Category Archives: Gun Control

Gabby Giffords stars in new gun-control TV ad ahead of State of the Union address

NBC News | Feb 11, 2013

By Mark Murray

Americans for Responsible Solutions, the organization founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) and her husband Mark Kelly, has released a new TV ad in the campaign to curb gun violence.

Giffords ties gun control push to State of the Union

Biden: We’re counting on ‘legitimate media’ for successful gun control effort

“We have a problem — where we shop, where we pray, where our children go to school,” Giffords says in the ad. “But there are solutions we can agree on, even gun owners like us. Take it from me: Congress must act. Let’s get this done.”

The ad — at a six-figure buy — will air this week in DC, as well in the cities represented by congressional leaders: San Francisco (Nancy Pelosi); Cincinnati, OH (John Boehner); Louisville, KY (Mitch McConnell); and Las Vegas, NV (Harry Reid).

And it comes after Giffords and her husband recently sat down with the New York Times for an interview. “Ms. Giffords, a former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, a gun owner, an astronaut’s wife, a shooting survivor and an incipient gun-control advocate, is settling into the third act of her public life. Her career as a lawmaker is behind her, but so is her role as the fragile, slightly mysterious victim in the months after she was shot point-blank in a parking lot here just over two years ago. Now, she is the face and emotional dynamism behind a new advocacy group and a separate political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, dedicated to reducing gun violence. It is an effort, she said, that gives her ‘purpose.'”

Giffords and Kelly also will attend President Obama’s State of the Union on Tuesday.

New Mexico Inches Toward Stricter Gun Controls

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Martin Vosseller, of Alamogordo, N.M., joined several gun-rights groups from around the state for a rally in Santa Fe on Friday. Mark Holm for The New York Times

nytimes.com | Feb 10, 2013

By DAN FROSCH

SANTA FE, N.M. — As state lawmakers around the country wrestle with whether to tighten gun laws, the fierce debate has not always fallen neatly along party lines — especially in the West.

Take New Mexico, where Democrats have dominated both chambers of the Legislature for decades, where Barack Obama twice won handily and where lawmakers have shown a willingness to back progressive causes like medical marijuana and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.

But in this largely rural state, where old Hispanic families have hunted, ranched and farmed the mountain valleys and mesas since Spanish settlers first arrived in the 1500s, efforts to restrict firearms have been viewed warily.

This is a place where you can bring your gun almost anywhere. You can even carry your weapon openly in the Capitol, if you wish — one of only a few states that allows open or concealed carry in their statehouses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“There have never been any advocates or lobbyists working on gun laws here. The N.R.A. has always been the only game in town,” said Pat Davis, executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico, a liberal political group that supports stricter gun laws. “We have not seen the Auroras or the Virginia Techs here.”

This year, though, is one of the first times in recent history that any significant effort has been made to regulate guns in New Mexico.

In January, State Representative Miguel P. Garcia, a Democrat from Albuquerque, proposed legislation requiring background checks for purchases of firearms made at gun shows and through private sales — both currently unregulated in New Mexico.

The proposal comes just weeks after the brother of a former state senator was shot to death, along with his wife and three of their children. Their 15 year-old son was arrested and charged in the case, which has shocked New Mexico.

Mr. Garcia’s initial bill stalled in a committee hearing after a Democratic lawmaker sided with Republicans against it. But in a compromise, Mr. Garcia introduced a less restrictive version, eliminating background checks on private sales but increasing cooperation between state and federal authorities to keep track of people with mental illness.

“That was a hard pill to swallow,” Mr. Garcia said in an interview. “But if we put together a nonpartisan initiative, we can win over more members of the Legislature and more Democrats will vote for this.

“The reality of the state of New Mexico is that we’ve got a lot of Democrats that represent moderate and conservative leaning districts with a high number of gun owners.”

Late Friday, Mr. Garcia’s bill passed easily in the committee with bipartisan support, a few hours after dozens of gun proponents rallied at the Capitol, carrying pistols and semiautomatic rifles.

“Don’t tell us we can’t be here, because it’s not true,” said a protester with a pistol strapped to his thigh. That New Mexico is only now inching toward more gun regulation belies the social and geographic intricacies that can make the gun debate so complex.

By comparison, neighboring Colorado, which historically leans more conservative, has weighed gun control legislation for years — spurred by the shooting at Columbine High School, and more recently the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora.

After the attack at Columbine, voters in Colorado overwhelmingly approved a measure in 2000 that closed the so-called gun-show loophole. And last week, Colorado Democrats unveiled a package of bills that includes universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines.

In New Mexico, State Senator George K. Muñoz, a Democrat from Gallup, said that guns had long been woven into the lives of the state’s rural Hispanic and Native American population, many of whom vote Democratic.

Mr. Muñoz, who said he was open to supporting Mr. Garcia’s legislation, sponsored a bill several years ago allowing individuals with concealed carry permits to bring their guns into restaurants that serve beer or wine, unless explicitly prohibited.

The measure passed and was signed by Gov. Bill Richardson, the state’s most powerful democrat at the time.

“I live in rural New Mexico. If the coyotes come to eat my cats, I’m going to have to shoot the coyotes,” Mr. Muñoz said. “When you say, ‘You can’t do this or you can’t do that,’ then everything goes underground.”

He added: “So how do you regulate guns? I don’t know.”

House Democrats unveil broad gun control package; mirrors Obama’s

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Reuters/Reuters – A display of 7-round handguns are seen at Coliseum Gun Traders Ltd. in Uniondale, New York January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Reuters | Feb 8, 2013

By Thomas Ferraro and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top Democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled a broad proposal on Thursday to curb gun violence that mirrors the one offered last month by President Barack Obama, including a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons.

But it remained unclear if the proposals will be put to a vote. The House Republican leadership has said it doesn’t intend to bring legislation to the floor until the Senate has acted, and there are doubts the Senate will pass gun control legislation.

“We know it’s going to be tough, but we also know this is important,” said Mike Thompson, chairman of the 12-member House Democratic Gun Violence Prevention Task that drafted the proposals.

Opponents led by influential and well-financed pro-gun groups charge that new restrictions on firearms would violate the right to bear arms.

Backers disagree. They argue that while Americans have the right to own guns, the government has the responsibility to impose restrictions for the public good.

There has been unprecedented public support for tougher gun laws in wake of the Connecticut school massacre in December that killed 20 children and six adults.

In addition to outlawing semi-automatic assault weapons and imposing limits on high-capacity ammunition clips, the House Democrat package, like one advanced by the White House, would require that all gun buyers be subject to background checks and provide for improvements in mental health services.

At this point the only gun-related proposal with much bipartisan support is the one requiring universal background checks.

The new package was announced on the second day of a three-day retreat by House Democrats that featured a visit by the president. He suggested that despite opposition by gun groups, many individual gun owners favor new restrictions.

“A majority of responsible gun owners recognize that we can’t have a situation in which 20 more of our children or 100 more of our children or 1,000 more of our children are shot and killed,” Obama told the meeting.

“There are common sense steps we can take,” Obama said, “and we should not shy away from taking those steps.”

Vice President Joe Biden, who led the effort to craft the White House proposals, told House Democrats on Wednesday that they have an obligation to step up and take action.

“I don’t want to hear about ‘Well, we can’t take it on because it’s too politically dangerous,'” Biden said. “There’s an overwhelming consensus about the need to act.”

Biden acknowledged that members of Congress who backed a 1994 ban on assault weapons – which expired in 2004 – faced a voter backlash that may have cost many of them their jobs.

“I’m here to tell you the world has changed since 1994,” Biden said.

A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday offered legislation expanding access to mental health professionals and improving the quality of mental health care in the United States.

The group, led by Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, noted that people experiencing severe but undiagnosed psychological disorders are at risk of committing violent acts at a rate 15 times higher than those receiving treatment.

The powerful National Rifle Association has led the charge against stricter gun laws but has agreed with those who have called for improvements in mental health treatment.

It strongly condemned the Democratic proposals on Thursday. “Congress should instead focus its energies on the things that will actually keep our families and communities safer – prosecuting criminals who misuse firearms; securing our schools; and fixing the broken mental health system that keeps dangerously ill people on the street,” the group said.

Calif. seeks to adopt nation’s toughest gun laws

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Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli – Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, glances over to a pair of semi-automatic rifles as he discusses his support for a package of proposed gun control legislation

AP | Feb 7, 2013

By DON THOMPSON

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Weeks after New York enacted the nation’s toughest gun laws, California lawmakers said Thursday they want their state to do even more in response to recent mass shootings, particularly the Connecticut school massacre.

Democrats who control the state Legislature revealed 10 proposals that they said would make California the most restrictive state for possessing firearms.

They were joined at a Capitol news conference by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, along with several police chiefs.

“California has always been a leader on the issue of gun safety,” Villaraigosa said. “New York has stepped up and stepped forward. California needs to answer the call.”

Among the measures is one that would outlaw the future sale of semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines. The restriction would prevent quick reloading by requiring bullets to be loaded one at a time.

Lawmakers also want to make some prohibitions apply to current gun owners, not just to people who buy weapons in the future.

Like New York, California also would require background checks for buying ammunition and would add to the list of prohibited weapons.

Those buying ammunition would have to pay a fee and undergo an initial background check by the state Department of Justice, similar to what is required now before buyers can purchase a weapon. Subsequent background checks would be done instantly by an ammunition seller checking the Justice Department’s records.

The legislation also would ban possession of magazines holding more than 10 bullets, even by those who now own them legally. All weapons would have to be registered.

Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, promised that gun proponents will fight the measures in court if they become law.

“It strikes me as if these folks are playing some sort of game of one-upsmanship with New York at the expense of law-abiding citizens, and that’s just unconscionable,” he said about lawmakers.

Three bills have been introduced, with others to come before this month’s deadline for submitting legislation.

The measures are the most stringent to date among numerous proposals introduced this year to strengthen California’s firearm regulations.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said he is confident Democrats can use their majorities in the Assembly and Senate to send the measures to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown this year.

Brown has declined to comment on weapons legislation before it reaches him.

Steinberg said the measures are designed to close numerous loopholes that gun manufacturers have exploited to get around California’s existing restrictions.

Those measures had been the strongest in the nation until Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed New York’s new law last month.

Other proposed measures in California would ban so-called “bullet buttons” that can be used to quickly detach and reload magazines in semi-automatic rifles, and update the legal definition of shotguns to prohibit a new version that can rapidly fire shotgun shells and .45-caliber ammunition.

The state also would restrict the lending of guns to keep weapons from felons, mentally ill people and others who are prohibited from ownership.

Obama on guns: ‘We’re not going to wait until the next Newtown’

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President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about his gun violence proposals, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Special Operations Center in Minneapolis, where he outlined his plan before law enforcement personnel. Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Speaking at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Special Operations Center in Minneapolis, President Obama, says, “We don’t have to agree on everything to agree it’s time to do something.”

NBC News | Feb 4, 2013

By Kasie Hunt

Declaring “we’re not going to wait until the next Newtown,” President Barack Obama appealed directly to the American public on Monday to pressure reluctant lawmakers in Congress to move forward with gun control legislation.

Obama flew to Minneapolis, Minn., to urge constituents to contact their representatives and press for a package of new gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, universal background checks for gun buyers and new rules targeting gun traffickers.

“We don’t have to agree on everything to agree it’s time to do something,” Obama said, standing in front of a group of uniformed law enforcement officers.

Obama’s campaign-like strategy is designed to maintain a sense of urgency for gun control measures in the wake of the elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 elementary school children and 6 adults.

But the president conceded Monday that his plans already face steep hurdles in Congress.

“Changing the status quo is never easy,” Obama said. “This will be no exception.”

Obama’s remarks in Minneapolis reflected the political realities on Capitol Hill, where Democratic leadership aides privately say an assault weapons ban has little chance of passing. The fight will instead center on universal background checks and, some Democrats hope, high capacity magazines.

On Monday, Obama labeled universal background checks as “commonsense” and “smart” reforms that would earn bipartisan support.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get that done,” he said.

There’s some evidence of that: While the National Rifle Association says it opposes universal background checks, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has been working with New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and other Democrats to craft background check legislation.

For the politically difficult elements of his proposals – the bans on weapons and magazines – Obama set a more modest goal: “That deserves a vote in Congress,” he said.

That’s about the extent of what Senate Democratic aides say they can muster. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who earned a “B” grade from the National Rifle Association, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that he plans to allow the Senate Judiciary Committee to start writing a gun bill. If it doesn’t initially include the ban, senators could try to add it later in the process, as an amendment on the Senate floor.

Reid has no plans to introduce his own gun bill, a senior Democratic aide said Monday, instead leaving that process to the Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. Still, aides acknowledged, including a gun ban in the overall package could prevent other, more popular gun regulations from passing Congress.

Democratic aides say Leahy hasn’t yet decided exactly what he’ll include in the bill, though he’s introduced a measure that would crack down on people who illegally buy guns to give or sell to others. Before the committee starts writing a bill, planned for later in February, there will be at least two more hearings – one this week in the Constitution Subcommittee and another full committee hearing after that.

Congress held its first hearings on gun control late last month, where National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre clashed with Democratic senators and emerged in opposition to universal background checks.

Obama referred to lobbyists like LaPierre in his remarks, though he didn’t mention the longtime gun advocate by name. He urged Americans to tell Congress if he didn’t speak for them.

“If we’ve got lobbyists in Washington claiming to speak for gun owners saying something different, we’ve got to go to the source,” Obama said. “We cannot allow those filters to get in the way of common sense… keep the pressure on your member of Congress to do the right thing.”

Arizona Republicans Push Their Own Gun Secession Bill

The bill, known as HB 2291, would, among other things, make it a Class 6 felony for a federal government employee or official to enforce federal laws or regulations of firearms, accessories, and ammunition that are owned or manufactured within state lines and remain within state lines.

The bill would also make any new federal laws restricting semi-automatic firearms and magazines, or requiring any form of firearm registration, unenforceable in Arizona.

Among the bill’s sponsors is state Rep. Carl Seel (R), who previously made headlines as the author of a 2011 birther bill.

According to HB 2291’s primary sponsor, the bill is designed to send a message to the President and Congress.

“Here’s a line in the sand: Thanks, but no thanks. Stay out with your federal regulations you’re going to impose on us,” Rep. Steve Smith (R) told Capitol Media Services.

Arizona’s lawmakers aren’t the first to think of this kind of thing. As TPM reported earlier this month, similar noises have been made by Republicans in Mississippi, Texas, and Tennessee.

Read the full text of HB 2291 here.

Utah Yet Another State Getting In On The Gun Secession Movement

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tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com | Jan 23, 2013

by Eric Lach

For those keeping track at home, add Utah to the list of states where lawmakers and officials are pushing back against even the idea of new gun control measures coming from Washington D.C.

At a rally in front of the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, newly-elected state Rep. Brian Greene drew cheers when, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, he announced that “he would unveil legislation next week giving local sheriffs the power to arrest any federal agent attempting to seize firearms from Utah residents.”

Greene, who is a National Rifle Association “Golden Eagle,” told the crowd to be wary of President Barack Obama’s recent gun control proposals. Last week, the White House announced 23 executive actions Obama plans to take to reduce gun violence in the wake of December’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., as well as other proposals he wants Congress to take up.

“This is all about control,” Greene said. “I saw the president in his press conference the other day with all the children around him and he made this comment — and I want to correct him. He said if this can save just one life we have a duty to do it. No, Mr. President, you have a duty to uphold the Constitution.”

Greene’s bill is known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act. Reached by TPM on Tuesday, Greene said the bill was still being drafted, and public copies were not yet available.

Greene, however, was beaten to the punch by the Utah Sheriff’s Association, which last week, the day after Obama’s executive orders were announced, sent a letter to the President, telling him that “it is imperative this discussion be had in Congress, not silenced unilaterally by executive orders.”

“We respect the Office of the President of the United States of America,” the letter concluded. “But, make no mistake, as the duly-elected sheriffs of our respective counties, we will enforce the rights guaranteed to our citizens by the Constitution. No federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them what the Bill of Rights — in particular Amendment II — has given them. We, like you, swore a solemn oat to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and we are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation.”

According to the Tribune’s report of Saturday’s rally, some of the speakers’ language went further than that.

“If I could tell one thing to these bedwetting, hand-wringing liberals out there, it’s that Thomas Jefferson anticipated you and called you a tyrant,” Clark Aposhian, Chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, told the crowd. “And there’s already a method of taking care of it, if not by the First Amendment, then by the Second.”