gun control legislation
Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Congressional action is the most important step that should be taken to increase gun control, even though President Barack Obama is close to finishing a new gun control initiative, according to USA Today.
Biden’s speech came hours after the White House released a report that claimed the administration has completed about 21 of the 23 executive actions he spoke about mid-January. The actions include improving the current background check system and the ability of federal law enforcement agencies to trace guns in investigations and allowing the government to research the roots of gun violence.
About six months ago, the gun control debate flared up after a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Americans generally support the passing of legislation that would increase the intensity of background checks on people buying guns, according to the New York Times.
But Congress failed to pass new gun legislation two months ago, and the majority of Americans believe new gun legislation is unlikely to pass this year, according to the New York Times.
Biden said he and Obama will continue to fight for new gun control legislation.
Democrats in Congress have also recently restarted the push for more expansive and effective laws through talks with Republican members of Congress, but the differences in each side’s ultimate goals might prove too stark for a compromise to be reached.
Opponents of gun control have said that Obama’s proposed executive actions are unjust and will not bring about substantial change.
Delaware governor, Jack Markell (D), has signed into law a bill that will require people to report lost or stolen guns to the police within seven days. Individuals who fail to report lost firearms will be subject to fines on the first two offenses, and every offense after that will be a class G felony.
This makes Delaware the eighth state in the nation to require citizens to report gun thefts.
“First and foremost it’ll help our police officers that arrive on a burglary scene or on a case of stolen property," said Lewis Schiliro of the Delaware’s Homeland Security. "They have a right to know that a firearm was involved for their own safety. I think the other thing it would do is help us to identify patterns where people continue to report guns stolen or don’t and help us really identify the straw purchaser.”
The bill’s co-sponsor, State Rep. Michael Barbieri, is optimistic about the new law.
“The argument we keep on getting is that we’re not going to prevent things like Sandy Hook and I don’t think anyone deludes themselves in believing that that’s what we will do, but what we will do is make it easier for law enforcement to take action on inappropriate behavior such as straw purchases,” he said.
Markell has been in a flurry of gun control activity recently. He recently signed into law a bill extending background checks on private gun sales, and he’s also supporting several other bills that will strengthen Delaware gun control policies. These other bills would make it illegal to bring firearms within 1000 feet of schools, restrict high capacity magazines and ban assault rifles.
Overall, this is a grim story for Delaware gun owners. With two of Markell’s gun control laws approved and three more in the works, Delaware could be on its way to becoming one of the strictest gun control states in America.
Police are sworn to uphold the law, but some police officers are allowing their political beliefs to trump their job responsibilities. As many as 200 police officers across the country are actively ignoring existing gun control laws in order to protest pending gun control legislation.
Police Chief Mark Kessler of Gilberton Borough, Penn., and hundreds of fellow pro-gun police officers gathered at the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association to talk about hot-button issues affecting modern police officers.
One of the biggest topics was how police officers were rebelling against federal and state gun control laws. Kessler boasted that he and city officials worked together on his so-called Second Amendment Protection Resolution, which “nullified every single gun-control law in the nation” for his small 800-person town.
Kessler argued, “I have a very unique view. If you want to own a firearm, carry a gun under your jacket or over your jacket, the Second Amendment is your concealed carry permit, period. … It has nothing to do with self-defense; it has to do with [freedom from] tyranny.”
Kessler was joined by Michael Peroutka, an attorney who encouraged his county to adopt a resolution that ignores the gun control Maryland Firearms Safety Act of 2013. He stated, “When a peace officer refuses to enforce an unconstitutional act the peace officer is not breaking the law, but upholding the law.”
On the one hand, it’s commendable that these police officers are standing up for their convictions. On the other hand, these police officers aren’t doing their job -- plain and simple. It is the responsibility of police officers to uphold the law, regardless of whether or not they agree with it. Allowing law enforcement officers to arbitrarily pick and choose which laws to enforce seriously undermines the legal system.
Moreover, these resolutions would inevitably meet a grisly end if they were challenged in court. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder warned state legislators that he would come down hard if they passed similar resolutions, so nullifying gun control laws at the county or city level would certainly also fall under Holder’s threat.
California already has a reputation as one of the strictest gun control states in the U.S., and it looks as though it’s about to get a lot worse. More than 30 gun control bills are in the works in the Golden State; many of them are expected to hit Governor Jerry Brown’s desk sometime this summer.
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrel Steinberg (D) said, “These are common sense bills that will save lives.”
These bills include:
SB108: Requires gun owners to lock away firearms when the owner is not present.
AB187: Establishes a 10 percent tax on ammunition sales.
AB760: Establishes a nickel-per-bullet tax. In many cases, this tax would be more expensive than the bullets themselves.
AB231: Makes it a crime to store a firearm in any location where a person under the age of 14 can have access to it.
SB53: Requires people buying ammunition to endure a background check, get a permit, and pay a fee.
Steinberg also has his sights set on assault rifles. SB374 would prohibit any sort of transaction that involves a semi-automatic firearm that can accept detachable magazines. Steinberg said, “You can spray more bullets a lot faster, killing or hurting a lot more people.”
Many of these bills are still a long way off from becoming laws, but there isn’t much that can stop them. Sam Paredes of the Gun Owners of California stated, “We don’t have the votes in either house. We know it. We are realistic about it.” Gun rights supporters haven’t given up hope completely – Paredes acknowledged that gun advocates might be able to knock down the laws in court through Second Amendment challenges.
The gun rights advocates do have a few supporters in the legislature, such as Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R), but they’re grossly outnumbered. Melendez complained that even the Republicans aren’t putting up enough of a fight. “Republicans think the answer is to tighten up the laws we have. Democrats want even more gun control,” she said. “Punishing law-abiding citizens who exercise their right to own guns is far from the right solution.”
Ultimately, it will be up to Governor Brown to make the final decision. With Brown's mixed stance on gun control, the fate of these bills are, as Paredes put it, up to "a toss of the coin.”
Source: UT San Diego
Gun rights supporter James Kaleda was thrown out of a New Jersey hearing by Committee Chair Senator Donald Norcross (D).
Kaleda came to the meeting with guns blazing, so to speak. He said, “There is no assurance or promise you can give us or make that can counter that reality, that you are doing nothing today but disarming citizens.” He also argued that New Jersey legislators broke the promise written into the New Jersey firearms ID law that “No New Jersey resident would ever be denied an answer on their firearms ID card more than 30 days.”
Things took a turn for the worse when Kaleda and Senator Norcross came to verbal blows over the speech. According to Norcross, it wasn’t what Kaleda had to say that was the problem but how he was saying it.
Norcross interrupted Kaleda, “You will not holler at us. Do you understand?”
Kaleda countered with, “Yes, I will.”
At that point Norcross stated that Kaleda was out of order and asked Kaleda to leave. Kaleda refused as the crowd of gun supporters behind him booed Norcross. A New Jersey state trooper finally stepped in and forced Kaleda to leave. Several members of the audience applauded Kaleda’s stand.
This video is sure to provoke controversy. On the one hand, Kaleda was fairly composed throughout his speech and he did not raise his voice to the point of “hollering.” On the other hand, Kaleda’s anger was clearly evident on his face and his words had somewhat aggressive, insulting connotations. To complicate matters, gun rights advocates can easily make the case that Senator Norcross threw out Kaleda because the gun owner was speaking up against the government.
What’s your take on the video? Was Norcross justified in ejecting Kaleda? Was Kaleda being reasonable or was his emotionally charged speech out of order? Do you think Norcross had an ulterior motive for getting rid of Kaleda?
California legislators are considering a bill that would allow Oakland, which was recently ranked as the fourth most dangerous city in America by the FBI, to create gun laws that are stricter than California law.
An Oakland native, Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D), is sponsoring the bill. He said, "It's truly an extraordinary situation with the violence happening right now in Oakland. Oakland had 131 homicides last year and 12 of victims were children. This is the highest level of violence we've experienced in six years."
Currently, California regions have to abide by the same basic gun control laws. These laws generally work fine in rural areas, but legislators feel that they are inadequate in urban areas like Oakland. If passed, the law would allow Oakland legislators to draft bills that would force citizens to renew gun registration every year.
Targeting a single city with custom-tailored laws might seem a bit unorthodox, but it’s nothing new for the Golden State. There is already a law that allows the city of Los Angeles to regulate imitation firearms at a local level rather than relying on state help.
The National Rifle Association unsurprisingly bashed the bill, arguing, “The repeal of state preemption would lead to an unpredictable patchwork of local laws. American citizens have right to travel from one jurisdiction to another in California without the fear of violating locally politically motivated ordinances.”
Technically that is a sound argument, but that’s also an argument against states’ rights, a principle that the NRA generally supports.
Additionally, the city of Alameda can only be accessed by driving through Oakland. Adding strict laws in Oakland could complicate Alameda citizens who want to transport firearms across city lines.
California already has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, which naturally leaves gun rights activists worrying about how much more damage legislators can do.
Oakland City Councilwoman Libby Schaaf brushed off their concerns, saying, “This is just having tighter controls on who’s owning and who's selling them and buying them. This law would allow Oakland to actually create that type of procedure and get guns out of the hands of people who should not have them."
What’s your take on the new bill? Are city-specific laws a good idea? Will Oakland officials be able to stop gun violence by placing more restrictions on gun rights?
Source: Huffington Post
A New Jersey Senate committee recently passed a massive package of gun control bills in order to reduce gun violence. The full Senate will vote on the 15 individual bills on Monday.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) is optimistic about the bill. He said, “I always said that I wanted to talk to all sides, and that’s what we did. In the end, I think we have a stronger set of bills.” He added, "This is a good package, and I don’t know what (the Assembly) will do, but I’m confident they see that it’s comprehensive and will become the national model."
The bills would impose a number of major restrictions on gun owners. One bill would require residents to undergo training in order to apply for weapon permits. Another would cause all online ammunition sales to send an electronic notification to the local police. Another bill would reinstate a seven-day “cooling off” period in order to prevent angry, emotional people from buying a gun in the heat of passion.
Votes on the package generally fell along party lines, with the majority of Democrats predictably voting in favor of the bill and Republicans voting against it.
A few desenters, such as Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D), argue that the newest package is excessive. These bills come in the wake of 22 gun control bills that the Senate passed following the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy. Another Democrat, Jeff Van Drew, stated, "Any time there is a tragedy, I don’t know if we should create laws that affect law-abiding citizens." It seems that Van Drew promotes a “cooling off” period for politicians, even if he doesn’t promote a “cooling off” period for angry, would-be gun owners.
Despite dissent form his colleagues, Sweeney has boasted about the bill package. "What we’ve accomplished is what Washington wasn’t able to do," Sweeney said, referring to one of the bills that would create a system of instant background checks.
New Jersey is already one of the strongest proponents of gun control in the nation. If these bills pass the Senate, New Jersey gun owners will have even more to complain about.
Missouri legislators have recently approved a set of gun control bills, including one that would invalidate federal gun control laws and another that would allow certain people to carry guns in schools. Now it’s up to Democratic Governor Jay Nixon to veto the bills or sign them into law.
Dixon recently told reporters that he refused to sign the latter bill, arguing, "Putting loaded weapons in classrooms is quite simply the wrong approach to a serious issue that demands careful analysis and thoughtful solutions." He also sent a letter to public school superintendents expressing his distaste for the bill.
Apparently, there is also a chance that Nixon may change his mind. The governor’s office released a statement that read, "As I do with all legislation that comes to my desk, I will give this bill a thorough and thoughtful review before making a final determination on what action to take. That review has not been completed and therefore no determination has been made."
Currently, Missouri law prohibits concealed firearms in schools unless it is specifically approved by a local school board or a school official. That’s already a much more relaxed stance on guns than what you’ll find in most other states, where guns in schools are banned outright.
The bill would allow school employees to become voluntary “protection officers.” In order to qualify, school employees would need to have a valid concealed carry weapons permit and they would need to undergo special training for the position.
Backers of the bill argue that putting guns in the hands of sanctioned school officials could prevent school shooting tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook. Opponents point out that putting guns around irresponsible, untrained children is a recipe for disaster, especially considering that students regularly steal from their teachers.
Of course, Nixon’s veto may only be a minor setback. If he vetoes the bill, Missouri legislators may vote to override the veto and upgrade the bill into a law without Nixon’s approval.
Louisiana legislators are one step closer to a legal battle with the federal government. House Bill 5, which is sponsored by state Representative Jim Morris (R), passed a Senate committee on Tuesday. The bill is now on its way to the Senate floor for further debate.
The bill would invalidate any federal gun control legislation that restricts the ownership of semi-automatic weapons in the Louisiana.
Legislators are playing with fire; US Attorney General recently criticized Kansas for passing a similar bill. He promised that he would “take all appropriate action, including litigation if necessary” to stop the law. Rep. Jim Morris and his colleagues can expect a similar reaction from Holder if the bill passes through the Senate unscathed.
In fact, that’s what Morris is counting on. According to Morris, a legal battle between the state and the federal government would be “worth every dime.” Ignoring the question of whether or not Louisiana citizens should be able to own firearms unrestricted, Morris’s desire to provoke a costly legal battle within the government is a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face. At the end of the day, the only thing it does is waste tax dollars.
The Senate committee also approved of three other gun bills. House Bill 6 would allow law enforcement officers to carry firearms in schools while off-duty, House Bill 265 would allow citizens to purchase lifetime concealed carry permits for $500, and House Bill 8 would enforce penalties up to $10,000 on those who “intentionally disseminate for publication” information about concealed permits.
Carl Redman, the executive editor for The Advocate news source, called that last bill “patently unconstitutional” for restricting freedom of speech. He added, "I find it very ironic that the very people who screamed the loudest about attempts to limit their Second Amendment rights are here eager to limit my First Amendment rights."
Two of the four bills are apparently in direct violation of the Constitution. Do Louisiana legislators honestly hope that these bills will stick, or are they just wasting time and tax dollars making an ultimately futile political stunt?
Following the Newtown tragedy, Connecticut lawmakers passed some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. The new laws have led to an explosion in background checks – the number of background checks has spiked by more than 6000% in the Constitution State since the Newtown shooting.
By state law, a would-be gun purchaser must pass a criminal background check. That includes all private sales and gun show sales. State Police Col. Danny Stebbins explained that he has been swamped with more than 62,000 background check requests, compared to about 1,000 background check requests in December. "We didn't see this coming and there was no way we could be prepared for it," he said.
The Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated that this veritable mountain of background checks will cost taxpayers $17 million during the 2015 fiscal year. That includes $4 million for the state police to conduct background checks, develop a gun registry, and hand out permits.
To make matters worse, the stricter gun laws have scared gun rights advocates into a gun grab.
Unsurprisingly, government officials aren’t terribly thrilled about the pile of paperwork. Sgt. Andrew Matthews, the president of the Connecticut State Police Union, said, “There is a real struggle with the Malloy administration trying to be fiscally responsible. With fewer people, and no money to be spent on overtime, you can't have it both ways. We are seeing now that the job is not getting done in some cases."
Gov. Dannel Malloy has plans to fix the fiscal problem, such as by hiring civilians rather than sworn officers to save taxpayer dollars.
This is a glimpse of what might have happened if the gun control bill had passed the Senate. It gives gun rights advocates an opportunity to shout, “Told you so!” as government officials struggle to keep up with the deluge of background check requests.
Gun rights advocates might see this backlog as one more reason to disdain government involvement, while gun control advocates might see it as a necessary evil in order to create positive social change. Either way, Connecticut taxpayers will feel the pinch as the state funnels more money into bureaucracy and paper work.