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News, discussion and analysis on US gun laws

Gun Law News — May 20, 2009

Gun law update

Federal: Senate Votes to Allow Guns at National Parks
Publication: Washington Post

Federal: Obama Would Sign Credit-Card Bill With Gun Amendment
Publication: Bloomberg News

Federal:: Loaded guns allowed in national parks under bill
Publication: Associated Press
Location: Washington, DC

Maryland: O’Malley signs bills aimed at boosting public safety: More gun confiscation authority, allowance of speed cameras among new laws
Publication: Baltimore Sun

Maryland: Domestic violence bills, speed cameras become law
Publication: Maryland Gazette

Louisiana: LSU’s Les Miles concerned about a law that would allow guns on campus
Publication: USA Today
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Louisiana: LSU coach, conferences oppose guns on campus; House to debate bill Tuesday
Publication: Monroe News-Star
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Illinois: NRA’s gun control suit will wait for other area rulings
Publication: Daily Northwestern
Location: Evanston, IL

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Editorial

Headline: Editorial: Safer Credit Cards
Publication: New York Times

Headline: Advocates of Gun Rights Are Poised for a Victory
Publication: New York Times

Headline: Guns and Credit Cards: A Strange Legislative Fit
Publication: CQPolitics
Location: Washington, DC

Headline: Ninth Circuit misreads statute in Ileto case granting near immunity to gun industry
Publication: Jurist

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Opinions

Headline: Guns big part of domestic violence
Publication: Arizona Republic
Location: Phoenix, AZ

Headline: Hoyer says Dems beaten on guns
Publication: Politico
Location: Washington, DC

Filed under: Editorial, Federal, Illinois, Maryland

No guns in parks

Editorial of Toledo Blade

THE U.S. Senate demonstrated an amazing case of timidity the other day in voting overwhelmingly to allow people to carry loaded guns in national parks.

How sad it is that so few members of that honorable chamber are not in the pocket of, or for lease by, the powerful gun lobby.

It is difficult to think otherwise when the gun provision, cleverly tucked onto must-pass legislation reforming credit card laws, is approved on a 67 to 29 vote.

That means 27 Democrats, 39 Republicans, and one independent have no problem with visitors carrying loaded weapons in national parks and on public lands administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It apparently makes no difference that, according to 2006 FBI data, national parks are some of the safest places anywhere in the United States.

So what, exactly, is the wisdom behind introducing loaded guns into that kind of family friendly environment?

Yes, we’ve read the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Second Amendment gun rights, but we did not skip over the part in which the justices’ held that government may still impose reasonable restrictions on weapons. And the regulation against loaded guns in federal parks could not be any more reasonable.

The Senate measure, pushed by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, is simply a backdoor attempt to negate a federal court decision in March that overturned a last-minute rule implemented by the outgoing Bush administration.

The court rightly ruled against allowing people to take loaded guns into parks and wildlife refuges even if they had a permit for a concealed weapon and the state permitted weapons in parks.

The Obama Administration had prudently said it would not appeal the court decision and, if clear heads prevail on Capitol Hill, the Senate’s misguided amendment won’t survive in the final version of the legislation.

Filed under: Editorial

Gun Law News – May 11, 2009

Gun law update

Editorial

News report

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State

Publication: Journal News
Location: White Plains, NY

Opinions

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Local

Headline:  Minority youngsters dying weekly on Chicago’s streets
Publication: CNN.com
Location: Chicago, IL

Headline: Boy dies after Liberty County shooting
Publication: Houston Chronicle
Location: Libterty County, TX

Headline: 7-year-old Texas boy dies in off-road shooting
Publication: Associated Press
Location: Houston, TX

Headline: UW-La Crosse names eagle mascot ‘Colbert’
Publication: Associated Press
Location: La Crosse, WI

Headline: Prof. wanted in killings found dead in Ga. woods
Publication: Associated Press
Location: Athens, GA
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International

Filed under: Arizona, Editorial, Legislation move, Massachussetts, News report

Sharp shooter: Brooklyn teen gives NRA a smart lesson in gun control

(Editorial on NY Daily News)

Of the many arguments that can and should be made for toughening New York‘s gun control laws, few match the simple power of what 17-year-old Kristine Arroyo of Brooklyn said and did yesterday in Albany.

Kristine was behind the microphone at a rally of 250 fellow high school students organized by New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. She was speaking from the heart about people she knew who had been shot to death, including a 17-year-old boy from Boerum Hill last weekend.

Then she noticed that a dozen or so National Rifle Association members – also in Albany to lobby – had stopped by to listen. Earlier, she had overheard one of their number saying that people like her need an “education” on the meaning of the Second Amendment.

So Kristine asked the mostly black and Latino kids in her audience to stand up if they knew someone who had been shot to death. About 200 rose to their feet, probably three-quarters of the crowd.

Row upon row of young people stood in somber testimony to the deadly havoc guns wreak on the streets of New York and other cities.

“I want everybody here to look,” Kristine said to the NRA supporters. “We don’t need to be educated.”

She’s right. The ones who need education are those who oppose common-sense gun controls.

Such as using microstamping technology so shell casings can be easily traced to the gun that fired them.

Such as putting an expiration date on gun permits so they are not good ad infinitum, as is the case across most of New York State.

Such as cracking down on the minority of gun dealers who flout laws and requiring background checks on their employees.

Well done, Kristine. New York could use more leaders like you.

Filed under: Editorial, , ,

Gun violence is more serious plague than swine flu scare

By Cynthia Tucker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The deadly contagion is spreading, striking down young and old, well-heeled and downtrodden, sophisticates and illiterates. Last year alone, the affliction killed thousands in Mexico and even more in the United States.

Not swine flu. Gun violence. While federal and state authorities are preoccupied with preventing a swine flu pandemic from overwhelming the United States, the epidemic of gun violence rages on, unabated and little noted.

Last Saturday, George Zinkhan III, a well-respected University of Georgia professor, took two handguns to a community theater and killed his wife, Marie Bruce, and two of her theater colleagues while wounding two others, police said. Zinkhan left his 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son in his car while he went on his bloody rampage, according to authorities. Then, he dropped the children off at a neighbor’s house —- he explained he had an emergency —- and fled, police said.

Don’t expect that this latest mass killing will arouse any more outrage or prod any more public action than those that preceded it. In March and April, gunmen of curious motive and deranged sentiment opened fire in a nursing home, a community center, their own homes and public spaces, killing family, friends and strangers.

Among the lowlights of this savage spring were the murders of two children of Devan Kalathat, who shot them and three other relatives before he killed himself; the murders of five children of James Harrison, who killed them before committing suicide; and the murders of the daughter and nephew of Kevin Garner, who, similarly, killed his estranged wife, his sister and the children before turning his gun on himself, law enforcement officials said. The shootings produced outpourings of grief and outbursts of anger but few calls for tighter gun laws.

In fact, state legislatures in the South, including the Georgia General Assemly, have recently loosened laws that deal with weapons in public places. In Georgia, gun owners with concealed-carry permits may now take their firearms into state parks, onto public transit and into many bars and restaurants.

Moreover, the sales of firearms and ammunition have soared over the last several months, sparked by the election of President Barack Obama and the belief that Democratic control of the White House and Congress will lead to restrictions on gun ownership. It’s a strange notion with absolutely no basis in fact.

Witness Obama’s tepid response to Mexican authorities who pleaded for help in stopping the flow of deadly firearms from the United States into the hands of drug thugs.

After Attorney General Eric Holder suggested the Obama administration might push to reinstate the ban on assault weapons, which expired in 2004, the White House received a letter signed by 65 craven Democrats insisting that the president leave assault weapons alone. Obama agreed to do nothing.

We have an odd way of assessing risks. While swine flu may yet emerge as a full-scale pandemic, it hasn’t proved especially lethal so far. Even in Mexico, where public health facilities are not as well developed as in the United States, the death toll has crept past 150 but hasn’t claimed lives on the scale of drug-related gun violence.

Yet, swine flu has prompted the travel industry to brace for a panic; pharmacies report a run on supples of antivirals such as Tamiflu; and the news media have hurriedly produced new catchphrases for their round-the-clock swine flu reportage. President Obama has dispatched Cabinet-level advisers to assure Americans that his administration is doing everything necessary to prevent the spread of the disease.

If only we could muster half that hysteria over gun deaths.

Cynthia Tucker is editorial page editor. She can be reached at cynthia@ajc.com. See original editorial at ajc.com

Filed under: Comment on Gun Violence, Editorial

A Culture Soaked in Blood

By BOB HERBERT, NY Times Op-Ed —

Philip Markoff, a medical student, supposedly carried his semiautomatic in a hollowed-out volume of “Gray’s Anatomy.” Police believe he used it in a hotel room in Boston last week to murder Julissa Brisman, a 26-year-old woman who had advertised her services as a masseuse on Craigslist.

In Palm Harbor, Fla., a 12-year-old boy named Jacob Larson came across a gun in the family home that, according to police, his parents had forgotten they had. Jacob shot himself in the head and is in a coma, police said. Authorities believe the shooting was accidental.

There is no way to overstate the horror of gun violence in America. Roughly 16,000 to 17,000 Americans are murdered every year, and more than 12,000 of them, on average, are shot to death. This is an insanely violent society, and the worst of that violence is made insanely easy by the widespread availability of guns.

When the music producer Phil Spector decided, for whatever reason, to kill the actress, Lana Clarkson, all he had to do was reach for his gun — one of the 283 million privately owned firearms that are out there. When John Muhammad and his teenage accomplice, Lee Malvo, went on a killing spree that took 10 lives in the Washington area, the absolute least of their worries was how to get a semiautomatic rifle that fit their deadly mission.

We’re confiscating shampoo from carry-on luggage at airports while at the same time handing out high-powered weaponry to criminals and psychotics at gun shows.

There were ceremonies marking the recent 10th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School, but very few people remember a mass murder just five months after Columbine, when a man with a semiautomatic handgun opened fire on congregants praying in a Baptist church in Fort Worth. Eight people died, including the gunman, who shot himself. More on NY Times

Filed under: Comment on Gun Violence, Editorial

Who Will Face Down the Gun Lobby?

By E.J. Dionne Jr., Op-Ed of Washington Post

Try to imagine that hundreds or thousands of guns, including assault weapons, were pouring across the Mexican border into Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California, arming criminal gangs who were killing American law enforcement officials and other U.S. citizens.

Then imagine the Mexican president saying, “Well, we would really like to do something about this, but our political system makes helping you very difficult.” Wouldn’t Mexico’s usual critics attack that country’s political system for corruption and ineptitude and ask: “Why can’t they stop this lawlessness?”

That, in reverse, is the position President Obama was in last week when he visited Mexico. The Mexican gangs are able to use guns purchased in the United States because of our insanely permissive gun regulations, and Obama had to make this unbelievably clotted, apologetic statement at a news conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderón:

“I continue to believe that we can respect and honor the Second Amendment rights in our Constitution, the rights of sportsmen and hunters and homeowners who want to keep their families safe, to lawfully bear arms, while dealing with assault weapons that, as we know, here in Mexico, are helping to fuel extraordinary violence. Violence in our own country as well. Now, having said that, I think none of us are under the illusion that reinstating that ban would be easy.”

In other words: Our president can deal with all manner of big problems, but the American gun lobby is just too strong to let him push a rational and limited gun regulation through Congress.

It’s particularly infuriating that Obama offered this statement of powerlessness just a few days before today’s 10th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado — and just after a spree of mass homicides across the United States took the lives of least 57 people.

No other democratic country in the world has the foolish, ineffectual gun regulations that we do. And, unfortunately, what Obama said is probably true.

Earlier this year, when Attorney General Eric Holder called for a renewal of the ban on assault weapons — he was only repeating a commitment Obama made during the presidential campaign — the response from a group of 65 pro-gun House Democrats was: No way.

Their letter to Holder was absurd. “The gun-control community has intentionally misled many Americans into believing that these weapons are fully automatic machine guns. They are not. These firearms fire one shot for every pull of the trigger.” Doesn’t that make you feel better?

Those Democrats should sit down with Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania. “Time and time again, our police are finding themselves outgunned,” Rendell said in Harrisburg last week. “They are finding themselves with less firepower than the criminals they are trying to bring to justice.”

The Democratic governor told his own state’s legislators that if they didn’t support such a ban, “then don’t come to those memorial services” for the victims of gun violence. “It’s wrong,” he said. “It’s hypocritical.”

And why can’t we at least close the gun show loophole? Licensed dealers have to do background checks on people who buy guns. The rules don’t apply at gun shows, which, as the Violence Policy Center put it, have become “Tupperware Parties for Criminals.”

But too many members of Congress are “petrified” of the gun lobby, says Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), a crusader for sane gun legislation ever since her husband was killed and her son paralyzed by a gunman on the Long Island Rail Road in 1993.

Family members of the victims of gun violence, she says, are mystified by Congress’s inability to pass even the most limited regulations. “Why can’t you just get this done?” she is asked. “What is it you don’t understand?”

Obama, at least, should understand this: He was not elected by the gun lobby. It worked hard to rally gun owners against him — and failed to stop him.

According to a 2008 exit poll, Obama received support from just 37 percent among voters in households where guns are present — barely more than John Kerry’s 36 percent in 2004. But among the substantial majority of households that don’t have guns, Obama got 65 percent, up eight points from Kerry. Will Obama stand up for the people who actually voted for him?

Yes, I understand about swing voters, swing states, the priority of the economy and all that. But given Congress’s default to the apologists for loose gun laws, it will take a president to make something happen.

Filed under: Editorial, Gun politics