Monthly Archives: November 2015

How the Gun Control Debate Ignores Black Lives

by Lois Beckett, ProPublica, November 24, 2015

By failing to talk about the majority of gun murder victims — black men — politicians and advocates are missing the chance to save lives.

On a drizzly afternoon in January 2013, almost a month after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 20 first-graders dead, more than a dozen religious leaders assembled in Washington, D.C.

They had been invited by the Obama administration to talk about what the country should do to address gun violence. Vice President Joe Biden had been meeting with victims and advocates all day, and he arrived so late that some in the room wondered whether he would come at all. When he finally walked in, the clergy started sharing their advice, full of pain, some of it personal. “The incidents of Newtown are very tragic,” Michael McBride, a 37-year-old pastor from Berkeley, California, recalled telling Biden. “But any meaningful conversation about addressing gun violence has to include urban gun violence.”

McBride supported universal background checks. He supported an assault weapons ban. But he also wanted something else: a national push to save the lives of black men. In 2012, 90 people were killed in shootings like the ones in Newtown and Aurora, Colorado. That same year, nearly 6,000 black men were murdered with guns….

read more at ProPublica

Open Carry / Concealed Carry: Both Make Us Less Safe

By Tom Buglio

Open Carry makes society more dangerous

A man in Colorado Springs was openly carrying a rifle, looking distraught.  A neighbor called 911, and was informed that Colorado is an ‘open carry state,’ so no police were dispatched.  A few minutes later, he shot and killed a boy on a bicycle, with the same caller calling 911 again.  The shooter killed 3 people before being shot by the police.  Without universal background checks, and no requirement for gun safety training, open carry is a dangerous law.

 Concealed Carry also makes us less safe

The more that sensational gun violence afflicts the nation, the more the myth of the vigilant citizen packing a legally permitted concealed weapon, fully prepared to stop the next mass shooter in his tracks, is promoted.  This foolhardy notion of quick-draw resistance, however, is dramatically contradicted by a research project showing that, since 2007, at least 763 people have been killed in 579 shootings that did not involve self-defense.

Tellingly, the vast majority of these concealed-carry, licensed shooters killed themselves or others rather than taking down a perpetrator. The death toll includes 29 mass killings of three or more people by concealed carry shooters who took 139 lives; 17 police officers shot to death, and – in the ultimate contradiction of concealed carry as a personal safety factor – 223 suicides. Compared with the 579 non-self-defense, concealed-carry shootings, there were only 21 cases in which self-defense was determined to be a factor.

Statistics compiled by the Violence Policy Center

ARS Responds to Guns Discussion in Democratic Debate

Americans for Responsible Solutions, Nov 14th, 2015

November 14, 2015 – Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, issued the following statement responding to the extensive discussion of gun violence and gun policy during tonight’s Democratic primary presidential debate:

“Voters are demanding to hear candidates’ plans for how we can make our country safer from gun violence, and fortunately, that’s exactly what voters got tonight. It was good to see the people running to be our Commander in Chief discuss some of the ways we can both prevent some of the 10,000 gun murders that happen in our country every year and protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” said Hayley Zachary, Executive Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “From now until November 2016, every debate, no matter the party, should include a responsible, serious discussion of how we can reduce the gun violence that is ripping so many of our communities apart.”

From 2004 to 2014, over 2,000 terror suspects legally purchased guns in the United States

By Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, November 16 2015

Given France’s strict gun laws, the terrorists who attacked Paris on Friday may have turned to black market sources for the weapons they used. But in the United States, known and suspected terrorists are allowed to purchase firearms under federal law.

“Membership in a terrorist organization does not prohibit a person from possessing firearms or explosives under current federal law,” the Government Accountability Office concluded in 2010. The law prohibits felons, fugitives, drug addicts and domestic abusers from purchasing a firearm in the United States. But people on the FBI’s consolidated terrorist watchlist — typically placed there when there is “reasonable suspicion” that they are a known or suspected terrorist — can freely purchase handguns or assault-style rifles.

And, as the GAO found, a number of them do: Between 2004 and 2014, suspected terrorists attempted to purchase guns from American dealers at least 2,233 times. And in 2,043 of those cases — 91 percent of the time — they succeeded. There are about 700,000 people on the watch-list — a point that civil libertarians have made to underscore that many on the list may be family members or acquaintances of people with potential terrorist connections.

That total number is a floor, since the 2011 and 2012 numbers include only partial data because of a programming error that the FBI subsequently fixed, according to the GAO. Overall, looking back toward 2007, the annual number of attempted gun purchases by terror suspects has generally held steady and may be declining slightly year-over-year.

Lawmakers have tried to stop this from happening. Bills have been introduced in Congress to do just that, going as far back as 2007 at the behest of then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) introduced a bill to do that earlier this year. The “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015” would prevent several hundred gun purchases by suspected terrorists each year, and it includes provisions to let people challenge a denial if they believe they were placed on the watchlist in error.

But these bills have rarely made it out of committee, in part due to vehement opposition from the National Rifle Association and its allies in Congress. The NRA objected to earlier versions of the bill, saying they were “aimed primarily at law-abiding American gun owners,” that “prohibiting the possession of firearms doesn’t stop criminals from illegally acquiring them,” and that the bills were “sponsored by gun control extremists.”

I reached out to the NRA to find out if they were similarly opposed to this year’s Feinstein/King bill but they have not yet responded. This piece will be updated if they do. A 2012 survey conducted by conservative pollster Frank Luntz, for pro-gun-control group Everytown USA, found that 76 percent of American gun owners, including 71 percent of NRA members, supported prohibiting people on the terror watchlist from buying guns.

The biggest knock against the proposed legislation is perhaps that the FBI’s watchlist is an imperfect tool for assessing an individual’s terror threat. Civil libertarians warn that the watchlist has ballooned in size to nearly 700,000 individuals in recent years. Many of those people may simply be family members, acquaintances or people only marginally acquainted with individuals who actually belong to terror groups. The NRA and its allies are worried that perfectly law-abiding people may end up on a watchlist and be unable to purchase a gun.

Terrorism Aided by Easy Access to Guns

Letter to the Editor, Daily Local News, 11/17/15 [not on Daily Local web site]

After the horrific Paris terrorist massacre, the world again turns its attention to how to respond.

We will hear lots of talk about closing the borders, stepping up military action in Syria and Iraq, stepping up intelligence gathering and whether to contain or destroy ISIS. All of these reactions are understandable, as the people of France are emotionally dealing with their version of 911.
Terrorism has become a reality of contemporary life.

Another constant is homegrown gun violence, which every day takes the lives of 90 people in the United States. While the tragedy of Paris is truly shocking and horrible, it is a sobering reminder that it just takes two days of ‘normal’ gun violence in American to have more deaths than what happened in Paris last week.

One of the main functions of government is to keep its citizens safe — especially when they feel vulnerable.

One way is to do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people–including terrorists. If we really want to protect Americans, we need to make it as difficult for terrorists to get their hands on firearms as possible. What to do?

1. Pass Universal background checks for gun purchases — no private sales without one

2. Pass Lost or stolen gun reporting — to reduce the amount of illegal guns

3. Crack down on ‘Bad Apple Gun Dealers’ — who do not follow safe procedures when selling guns.

There are 3 good bills in PA that deal with just these issues, and 2 bills in the US House that would strengthen background checks. I applaud State rep. Dan Truitt, State rep. Warren Kampf and State rep. Chris Ross for cosigning some of these bills. I call on Senator Dinniman and US Rep Costello to step up to the plate and Cosponsor these good bills.

Let’s hope that a reaction to the latest shocking act of violence in Paris can light a fire under our legislators to get serious about reducing gun violence- as a tactic to combat global and domestic terrorism.

Tom Buglio, West Chester
Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence

Universal Background Checks & the “Private” Sale Loophole Policy Summary

Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence, September 10, 2015

Background

The most dangerous gap in federal firearms laws today is the “private sale” loophole. Although federal law requires licensed firearms dealers to perform background checks on prospective purchasers and maintain records of all gun sales, it does not require unlicensed “private” sellers to do so. An estimated 40% of all firearms transferred in the U.S. are transferred by unlicensed individuals.

According the U.S. Department of Justice, because federal law does not require universal background checks, “individuals prohibited by law from possessing guns can easily obtain them from private sellers and do so without any federal records of the transactions.” “The private-party gun market,” one study observed, “has long been recognized as a leading source of guns used in crimes.” Although the private sale loophole is frequently referred to as the “gun show” loophole (because of the particular problems associated with gun shows), it applies to all private firearm sales, regardless of where they occur.

The growth of the Internet has significantly increased the ability of individuals prohibited from possessing firearms to find sellers willing to transfer firearms to them without background checks….

read more and see footnotes at Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence