In the weeks following the shooting at Newtown, Conn.’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, gun control laws were at the forefront of the national political debate. In response to the incident, Connecticut enacted legislation requiring gun owners to register all military-style rifles and high-capacity magazines by the end of 2013.
According to the Hartford Courant, as many as 350,000 assault weapons may still be unregistered throughout the state. The state did receive around 50,000 applications for assault weapon certificates, but that represents only 15 percent of the weapons believed to be owned by Connecticut residents.
The problem presents a tricky situation for Connecticut law enforcement officials. Many individuals who possessed these types of weapons prior to the enactment of the new law had a clean, non-criminal record. Missing the registration deadline, however, makes them class-D felons. Prosecuting thousands of individuals on the basis of this law may be difficult.
Although owning an unregistered assault weapon in Connecticut now represents a serious criminal infraction, major Second Amendment rights organizations throughout the state claim that they do not believe the law is actually going to be enforced.
Ed Peruta, director of Connecticut Carry, had some blunt words regarding the current situation in the state.
“The fact is, the state does not have the balls to enforce these laws,” Peruta said. "The laws would not survive the public outcry and resistance that would occur."
Peruta and his organization also released a statement explaining that they are prepared to fight against any unnecessary enforcement of the law. How the state government reacts remains to be seen, but the sudden influx of non-violent criminals is certainly something it'll be forced to deal with in the coming months.
As anyone who’s ever taken a sixth-grade civics course knows: the legislature passes the laws, the executive branch enforces them, and if the citizens have a problem with any laws, they can challenge them in the courts. The Supreme Court is often the last stand for many laws, but sometimes, the court chooses pass on hearing certain cases, as it has for three cases involving gun control.
According to Reuters, the Court “declined to wade into the politically volatile issue of gun control by leaving intact three court rulings rejecting challenges to federal and state laws.” Two of the cases were backed by the National Rifle Association, involving laws that make it illegal for people under the age of 21 to purchase firearms or ammunition or for them to carry handguns in public in Texas. The third case was not led by the NRA but instead was brought by citizens in Washington, D.C., who wished to purchase guns from Virginia but could not because of a combination of local and federal laws.
These all would have been landmark cases had they made their way before the Supreme Court, but by passing on the cases, it is effectively allowing all of these laws to stand. The Texas case, in particular, would have been remarkable because it would have forced a ruling on whether or not “open carry” of weapons is a protected Second Amendment right. Currently, this is a question the Court has not yet addressed.
While the other two cases don’t exactly represent really significant changes to U.S. gun policy, the Court’s decision to pass on these cases is seen as a loss for the NRA. Despite legal gun-owners’ willingness to follow gun control laws, the NRA has become far more radical of late. It has taken the position that any gun regulation at all is an attack on Second Amendment freedoms. Given the recent media focus on mass shootings lately, this has arguably hurt the gun rights movement in the court of public opinion.
One of the fundamental problems in the gun control/gun rights argument is that the central item in the discussion, i.e. the gun, is seen as two completely different things from either side. For those who find themselves on the side of the spectrum that wants guns controlled (or banned outright) the gun is a terrifying death machine that ordinary citizens should not possess. For those on the side of the spectrum who prefers easy access to firearms (or mandatory ownership) the gun is the only real “protection” they trust.
Georgia lawmakers have recently introduced a bill that would essentially protect Georgians from any future federal laws that would “nullify certain federal laws…which attempts to govern firearms manufactured” in Georgia. Democratic State Senator Vincent Fort, who last year tried to pass an assault weapons ban, believes the new law is dangerous. He told CL Atlanta, “it’s unfortunate that this right-wing crowd [is] making these kind of extremist, ideological statements,” rather than focusing on the poor or the economy.
The ideological opposite of this bill is the recent "bullet control" proposal in the Mississippi State Legislature calling for individuals purchasing ammunition to provide personal details such as their name, Driver’s License, and Social Security Number. Law enforcement and government officials wouldn’t be the only people to have access to this information, but the records would be also open to the public.
No two individual laws better embody the central disconnect between the two sides of this argument. For gun control advocates, the idea that the entire state of Georgia would ignore federal laws seems to validate their position that there is no such thing as a “responsible” gun advocate. For those in favor of gun rights, the idea that purchasing some rounds means that the public has access to their personal information seems to validate their belief that the system is stacked against them.
What is difficult to address in legislation or even legislative discussion is the dichotomy of the gun. The thing these two laws have in common is that both come from a view of guns that the other side not only doesn’t share but doesn’t understand. A victim of gun crime wouldn’t see these weapons as protection from predators (human and animal), a way to put food on the table, or harmless sport and vice versa. Until this is addressed, any attempts to either protect gun-owners’ rights or responsibly limit everyone else’s risk will be doomed to fail on the national level.
A report by the Associated Press discovered that in 2013 Kansas was 3rd in the nation when it comes to racking up federal gun prosecutions for owning, possessing illegal firearms. Also in 2013, Kansas received a record number of applications for concealed-carry permits—which many believe is motivated by the fear of more restrictive federal laws.
Whereas the national conversation may be focused on restricting who can have guns and where they can have them, Kansas has gone in the opposite direction. A policy passed last year by Kansas’s state legislature allowing individuals legally carrying concealed weapons to do so in public buildings such as courthouses, museums, and community halls. If a local government wants to ban individuals from carrying weapons on public property, they have to provide—and pay for from local budgets—metal detectors and security to, according to The New York Times, “[ensure] the safety of those they have disarmed.”
The key issue is not-so-much the guns themselves, but that the law applies only to those who have paid $150 and met a series of requirements to be issued a permit to carry a weapon concealed. Along with a clean criminal record, background check (and, given President Obama’s recent executive actions, mental-health background check), Kansans also must complete a certified weapons training course that runs at least 8 hours.
What offends guns-rights activists is that these citizens, who’ve arguably had to jump through a number of legal hoops in order to exercise what they see as a fundamental right, are pre-supposed to be untrustworthy in a public space with their weapons. Also, the weapon makes that person feel safe. Ultimately, this is a debate about which sort of environment “feels” safer: a public building with metal detectors and armed security or an open door where anyone could possibly be armed.
Chicago, a city known both for its restrictive gun laws and its troubling problem with shooting deaths, recently lost a battle in federal court trying to uphold their ban on handgun sales.
In an opinion from U.S. District Court Judge Edmond E. Chang, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, he wrote that the ordinance “goes too far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms.”
However, before any stores can open for business, the city has both the right to appeal the decision further or to come up with a new ordinance that is constitutional and thereby less restrictive. Also, the city still has the right to restrict zoning as a way to limit how many gun stores there are and where they are allowed to be.
Further, Judge Chang writes that even though most illegal guns are initially purchased from a legal weapons dealer, the law enforcement focus should be on the person who then illegally transfers the gun to other parties. These “straw purchasers” should have the focus of law enforcement operations, which could extend to dealers if they knowingly sell to one.
Increasingly, studies are finding that the restrictive gun control measures aren’t as effective as initially thought, especially since the only ones respecting those laws are legal, responsible gun owners and dealers. A global Harvard study published last fall discovered that the number of guns available in a community is irrespective of the murder rate. A more recent study in the academic journal Applied Economics found that states that allow concealed-carrying of weapons had lower murder rates than cities that do not.
The findings of these studies, coupled with these rules, puts gun control advocates in particularly difficult position. It seems that rather than a preponderance of guns, it is a preponderance of willingness to murder that is at the heart of America’s homicide problem, via handgun or any other means. How does one even approach legislating against that?
Thus, the debate will most likely remain unchanged and politicians will align their opinions about guns with those of their constituents, in order to ensure reelection. One might suggest that it’s the debate itself that hold the most appeal for those on either side who’d prefer to keep arguing tired points rather than embracing new ideas and strategies.
Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) recommended “liberal tears” as the best lubricant for cleaning guns in his most recent post on Twitter.
Stockman, who is running in the Republican primary against Sen. John Cornyn, tweeted a picture Monday of a spray can marked “liberal tears” and a gun. In the caption below the picture, he wrote that liberal tears worked as the best gun lubricant.
Stockman has been trying to win over Texans by supporting gun rights, and by being more aggressive about them than Cornyn. While Cornyn was endorsed by the National Rifle Association earlier in December, Stockman was endorsed by the Gun Owners of America, a group considered to be more assertive than the NRA.
“The right to keep and bear arms is granted by God,” Stockman wrote in a statement against the Arms Trade Treaty.
In May, the outspoken gun proponent even gave away a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle via his Twitter.
“Grab this gun before Obama does,” the tweet read.
— Rep. Steve Stockman (@StockmanSenate) December 30, 2013
Gun Control Groups Spent More Money On Advertisements Than Gun Rights Groups In Year Since Sandy Hook
The December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn. immediately ignited a debate about gun control and Second Amendment issues in the United States. According to Advertising Age, the amount of money spent on gun control television advertisements since the tragedy occurred has surged, with gun control groups advertising spendings surpassing $14 million. Gun-rights organizations, on the other hand, spent $1.9 million on advertising throughout the previous year. The study also notes that Second Amendment rights groups spent $6.2 million on lobbying politicians as opposed to advertising.
Despite all of the money being spend on both sides of the agenda, a new CNN poll reported that support for stricter gun control has decreased in the year following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. According to the media outlet’s survey, 55% of Americans supported stricter laws in the weeks immediately following the shooting, compared to 49% now.
Support for gun control seems to be fading even as school shootings appear to be more commonplace. The recent school shooting in Colorado was little but a blip on the media radar. A new gun control ad, released in conjunction with the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the relative lack of discussion surrounding the issue, consists of a mostly silent soundtrack and images of the shooting before displaying text that reads “But with 26 more school shootings since that day, ask yourself: is silence what America needs right now?”
It appears as if silence on both sides of the issue is what is continuing to happen, at least on the advertising side of the debate. With New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s term ending at the end of the year, he has pledged to dump millions into pro-gun control causes and advertisements nationwide. As is the case with any hotly-debated issue, a similarly wealthy individual or group on the other side of the equation is likely to dump their own money towards influencing legislation and public opinion.
Organizers of a gun advocacy forum in Viera, Fla., removed from their raffle a 9mm semi-automatic handgun — the same model that George Zimmerman used in the controversial killing of Trayvon Martin.
According to TIME Politics, The Gun Rights Preservation Forum had originally intended to raffle off a copy of the Bible and a Kel-Tec PF-9 during an event with George Zimmerman defense attorney Mark O’Mara.
However, O’Mara suggested that this might not be the best fundraising idea.
O’Mara is still scheduled to appear at the organization’s event on Nov. 4, reported The Blaze. The raffle is likely to be rescheduled, and the handgun has been removed from the raffle altogether.
“The right thing to do is to postpone the raffle,” Bob White, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Central East Florida, told USA Today.
White also stated that he had no idea that the handgun was the same model that Zimmerman had used when the fundraiser was announced, and that the organization was only trying to support the Kel-Tec gun manufacturer.
“We have no doubt that George Zimmerman used this weapon legally in the defense of his own life,” White said in a statement to Florida Today. “Certainly, its use prevented further serious bodily harm to himself, and he may very well have saved his own life by its use. We also recognize, though, that another life was lost in the process, and we do have empathy for the parents of Trayvon Martin. Losing their son was tragic, regardless of the circumstances.”
White also stated that holding the raffle during the event with O’Mara might distract from their goal of advocating Second Amendment rights.
“At the same time, it could potentially cause needless additional heartache for the parents of Trayvon Martin,” he said. “Nothing good could come from such a thoughtless act.”
White added that the event which normal draws in 50 to 60 people is expecting a crowd of 200 this year. All proceeds from the raffle will go toward lobbying and public education projects, The Blaze reported.
A man was "playing around" with his gun in his apartment near Nashville, Tennessee when he accidentally shot his neighbor in the apartment below him through the floor.
The situation happened around 11 p.m., and reports show that the woman living in the apartment below 22-year-old David White was struck in the left shoulder after the bullet went through his floor, through her ceiling, and into her body.
The woman was asleep in bed with her husband, and six feet away from the bed was the couple’s one-year-old baby asleep in a crib.
Also in the house at the time of the incident was the couple’s six-year-old child.
Vincent Goutremont, husband of the gun victim, says that they were both asleep when he awoke to his wife screaming in pain. Doctors say that the bullet is in the woman’s chest and they don’t plan on removing it.
White was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment for the incident, as well as possession of a controlled substance and drug possession without a prescription fort he marijuana and amphetamine pills found in his apartment following the accidental shooting.
California GOP Candidate Tim Donnelly, Bullhorn in Hand, Warns Citizens That Their Guns Will Be Taken Away
With a bullhorn in his hand, California Conservative Assemblyman Tim Donnelly sent a message, loud and clear, to Democratic Governor Jerry Brown; he needs to “keep his hands off our guns” or else “then he will pay at the ballot box.”
Speaking at the GOP Convention in Anaheim, Donnelly officially began his bid for Governor with a promise to gun owners in the state that if Governor Brown winds up trying to “deprive” citizens of their rights to carry firearms, he will be beat come election day.
Governor Brown has multiple pieces of gun control legislation that he has yet to act on, and with his past history in mind, many gun owners fear that he will take away their right to bear arms.
Donnelly also added, in his fiery speech, that he is pushing back against an inevitable move towards socialism, while saying that taxes are “going to be the number one issue in this race.”
The Conservative gubernatorial hopeful also said that it really comes down to one thing; too much government.
“The greatest issues affecting Californians,” asserted Donnelly, “have to do with government controlling our lives, and literally destroying our businesses.”
When asked about other issues like gay marriage, abortion, and appealing to Hispanic voters, Donnelly had a lot to say. In regards to gay marriage, Donnelly made clear that he believes marriage should not have anything to do with the government in general, but should just be a religious practice, saying that he believes it is a “sacred convenient between one man and one woman, ordained by God.” He also feels strongly about abortion, saying that he is “proudly pro-life.” When it came his appeal in minority communities like the Hispanic population in California, Donnelly seemed to think that he wouldn’t have any issues.
While it is generally expected that Governor Brown will win re-election in next year’s race, Donnelly is clearly pulling out all the stops to try and make sure that doesn’t happen. His staunch conservative views on gun control, among other issues, make him a strong candidate to effectively tout the GOP agenda.