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Entries in Gun Control (18)

Thursday
Jul262012

Police, Gun Control Advocates Push Washington for Action

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Police and gun control advocates Thursday sounded a louder call for politicians to take a stand against gun violence -- despite Congress’ lack of political will to touch the issue, or the White House’s affirmation that President Obama had no plans to put new gun laws on the books.

“We have refused to accept silence from the candidates for the highest office in our land,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told reporters Thursday at the National Press Club.

“The American people have shown overwhelmingly that they are ready to have a real conversation about how to prevent gun violence, and we are demanding the same from our elected representatives: Not to play politics but to lead.”

The nation’s largest anti-gun violence group, the Brady Campaign, was founded by President  Reagan’s press secretary, Jim Brady, who was confined to a wheelchair after he took a bullet to the head in the Reagan assassination attempt in 1981.

The group supports broadening the Brady Law, enacted in 1994, which requires federally licensed firearms dealers to run background checks on would-be buyers to weed out felons, drug addicts or others who might prove dangerous. But Thursday, the group put policy on hold and instead urged Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney to take the lead in discussing ways to end gun violence, whatever they might be.

“It is time for all of us to come together -- Republicans, Democrats, blue states, red states, people who own guns and people who don’t -- to have a meaningful national conversation about what we can do about it,” Gross said. “I think it’s shameful that our political leaders would play politics when there are lives that can be saved.”

More than 30 people die of gun-related violence every day in the U.S., according to the Brady Campaign. If that number holds steady, 48,000 Americans will be victims of gun violence during the next presidential term.

“We truly believe, as a nation, we are better than this,” Gross said.

Less than a week after a movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., left 12 dead and 58 injured, a national group of police associations also took to Washington, D.C., to drum up support for more gun control measures.

The National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, a group of nine national police associations, Thursday echoed its demands for background checks on all firearms purchasers.

“America, we are not doing enough to keep guns out of the wrong hands,” said James Johnson, Baltimore county chief of police and incoming chairman of the partnership. “We are long past the point of saying ‘enough is enough.’ The mantra has grown old. It’s time to take action to keep firearms from dangerous people.”

The Brady Law applies only to federally licensed gun dealers -- which accounts for 60 percent of all U.S. firearm transactions, according to the partnership. People who buy assault-style guns or high-capacity ammunition online, or through a classified ad, for example, might not be subject to those background checks.

Aurora shooting suspect James Holmes did pass background checks to purchase his guns legally, partnership president Hubert Williams acknowledged. But broadening the law would help close a “gaping hole” that illegal buyers can still exploit, he said.

“We’re not asking for new laws. We’re asking for existing laws to be enforced on all people that are purchasing these weapons,” Williams said. “We’re just saying that the law has a loophole in it that needs to be plugged.”

Gross, of the Brady Campaign, said it’s important for politicians to talk about gun control -- but just paying lip service isn’t enough.

“A speech is not a plan. An endorsement of a measure is not a solution,” he said. “We want a plan with solutions.”

Second Amendment advocates point to data stating the vast majority of firearms used in crimes are not legally purchased, and, most notably, criminals don't follow gun laws of any kind.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

President Obama Renews Push to Reduce Gun Violence

Win McNamee/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- In his most extensive remarks on gun control since the tragedy in Tucson, President Obama Wednesday renewed his push to reduce gun violence saying “AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals.”
 
Citing the massacre in Colorado and the, “less publicized acts of violence” that plague the nation’s cities, the president told the National Urban League that steps to reduce gun violence, “should not be controversial, they should be common sense.”
 
Following an “extraordinary heartbreaking tragedy” like the deadly shooting in Aurora, Obama said there is, “always an outcry immediately after for action,” but that, “too often those efforts are defeated by politics and by lobbying and eventually by the pull of our collective attention elsewhere.”
 
“Steps to reduce violence have been met with opposition in Congress. This has been true for some time, particularly when it touches on the issue of guns,” he added.
 
The president made clear his support for second amendment rights, saying, “hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.”
 
“I also believe a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals. That they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities,” he said.
 
Going forward, Obama vowed to work with members of both parties to, “arrive at a consensus around violence reduction, not just of gun violence, but violence at every level.”
 
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul232012

In Wake of Colorado Massacre, Gun Control Supporters Seek Reboot

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, has no qualms about stating his view of the obvious: Efforts to enact gun control legislation aren't working.

So in the wake of the Aurora, Colo. massacre that has claimed 12 lives so far, the nation’s top gun control advocate is seeking to change the debate about gun control.

“We just need to re-frame this whole conversation away from being part of the political debate,” he said Monday. “We need to expect more of ourselves and more of our leaders. There’s a disconnect between the interests of the American people and what our politicians are doing.”

The Brady Campaign, named after Ronald Reagan assistant James Brady, who was critically injured in the assassination attempt on the president, wants to reboot the national conversation and part of that, it seems, means taking its name off the masthead. The group will launch a new website later Monday night called wearebettterthanthis.org that will play down its sponsorship by the Brady campaign.

The idea, he said, is rescue the debate from the poles on either side of the gun control issue. The new site will feature a petition demanding politicians start talking about gun violence and how to prevent it. “It begins at the top with the president and Mitt Romney offering more than sympathy,” Gross said.

A Pew Poll in March found the public fairly split on the issue. Forty-nine percent of respondents said it was more important to protect the right to own guns. Forty-five percent said it was more important to control ownership.

What people and politicians should offer, Gross said, isn’t necessarily the kind of legislation that has been enacted in the past. ABC asked whether the Brady Campaign still supports the assault weapons ban, for instance.

“I wouldn’t say that we do or don’t at this point. I would say what we need to do is consider all of the solutions,” he said, arguing that such solutions will only come with input from supporters of gun rights and gun control.

“There are solutions that most gun owners and most NRA members support,” he said. “And there are supporters of a national gun policy that support the second amendment. …We need to make sure we’re on the same page before we start pushing specific policy provisions.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul222012

Movie Theater Shooting Prompts Gun Control Debate

AbleStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The worst mass shooting in U.S. history has sparked a renewed debate about gun control laws in the country.

James Holmes, a 24 year old student at the University of Colorado Medical School was detained Friday following the shooting of 70 people inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Twelve people were killed in the attack, which was carried out with an assault rifle, a shotgun and a pair of Glock pistols at the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Not much is yet known about Holmes, but investigations into the weapons he owns show that he purchased them legally. He purchased the four guns at local shops, and bought more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet in the past 60 days, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.

“All the ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally, all the weapons he possessed, he possessed legally, all the clips he possessed, he possessed legally,” Oates said. As far as investigators know now, Holmes had a clean background, with the exception of a single traffic ticket.

The right to bear arms is a constitutionally protected right in America, and in Colorado, the laws aren’t very strict. Background checks are required for purchases at gun shows, under an initiative voted into law after the Columbine shootings in 2000. However, there is no ban on assault weapons or high capacity ammunition clips. Registration and gun owner licenses aren’t required, and background checks for online sales aren’t required.

Advocates of increased gun control laws point to events like this one as evidence that the nation needs to adopt stricter laws about who can buy firearms, and what firearms they can buy.

New York City Mayor Bloomberg has been an outspoken advocate of stronger gun control rules as a chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. On his radio show Friday, Bloomberg called on top politicians to make their stance on gun laws clear.

“Maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do,” Bloomberg said. “Because this is obviously a problem across the country.”

Polls indicate most Americans favor stricter gun laws, but the issue hasn’t been rated as a highly important political one, because of conflicting sentiments about how to respond. Many people think stricter enforcement of existing laws is preferable to creating new laws, and that the availability of guns is not itself the primary cause of gun violence.

In the past, attitudes toward gun laws haven’t changed in response to gun crimes like the Aurora movie theater shooting.

Still, gun sales are climbing, and few politicians are willing to work towards strengthening gun laws.

This debate isn’t a new one for the community surrounding Aurora. Columbine, where 13 years ago two students opened fire on their high school classmates, killing 13, is just a short drive from Aurora.

Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel was killed at Columbine, became a gun control advocate following his son’s death.

“It makes me angry. It makes me angry for America when other countries are looking at us saying, ‘are you nuts?’” Mauser told ABC News’ Clayton Sandell. “When you have magazines that can hold 30, 50, 100 rounds, that makes it easy for people like [the Aurora movie theater shooter].”

According to the latest numbers of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, there are 123,000 licensed firearms dealers in the United States, meaning there are roughly as many gun dealers as there are gas stations.

Between 2006 and 2010 more than 47,000 people were killed in the United States by firearms, according to ATF reports.

Pro-gun rights advocates argue that gun ownership is a protected right, and that law-abiding gun owners shouldn’t be punished because of those who break the law.

“You can’t stop selling guns. If you’re going to be in an armed country, you’re just going to have to deal with the occasional fruit loop,” gun owner Andrew Wright told Sandell. “That’s the way it goes. It’s unfortunate, it really is.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar142011

NRA Reacts to Obama Op-Ed: Problem Isn't Guns, But Rather Criminals

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The heads of the National Rifle Association wrote to President Obama Monday, taking issue with his op-ed in the Sunday Arizona Daily Star, in which he said that since the tragic shooting in Tucson perhaps another 2,000 Americans have been lost to gun violence.

The president pushed for states to provide better data to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and suggested “an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks to sellers.”

The heads of the NRA responded to the president’s op-ed on gun issues, saying, “to focus a national dialogue on guns -- and not criminals or mental health issues -- misses the point entirely."

The problem is not gun laws, they say, but rather lax law enforcement, a sensationalist media and deficiencies in the mental health system.

After suggesting that the president’s claim to support the Second Amendment is “lip service,” NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and chief lobbyist  Chris Cox urged the president to:

• “contact every U.S. Attorney and ask them to bring at least 10 cases per month against drug dealers, gang members and other violent felons caught illegally possessing firearms.  By prosecuting these criminals in federal court -- rather than state court -- strong sentencing guidelines would apply and charges would not be plea-bargained or dismissed, nor would criminals be released after serving only a fraction of their sentences. This simple directive would result in roughly 12,000 violent criminals being taken off the streets every year;"

• immediately end the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and  Explosives' "Fast and Furious" operation, "in which an unknown number of illegal firearm transactions were detected -- and then encouraged to fruition by your BATFE, which allegedly decided to let thousands of firearms ‘walk’ across the border and into the hands of murderous drug cartels.”

• call on the  media “to refrain from giving deranged criminals minute-by-minute coverage of their heinous acts, which only serves to encourage copycat behavior.  If media outlets won’t show a fan running onto the field during a baseball game because they don’t want to encourage that behavior by others -- surely they can listen to law enforcement experts and refuse to air the photographs, video messages or Facebook postings of madmen and murderers;" and

• “to encourage people to report red flags when they see them.  In the case of Tucson, a man clearly bent on violence was not reported to the proper authorities by those who had good reason to believe he had serious mental problems.  That’s not a deficiency in our gun laws, it’s a deficiency in our mental health system -- and should be treated as such.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb282011

Texas May Allow Concealed Handguns on College Campuses

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- John Woods was three weeks away from college graduation in 2007 when his insulated academic world at Virginia Tech University was shattered by the bullets of a deranged gunman. Woods' girlfriend was one of 32 people who died the day Seung-Hui Cho took his handgun onto campus and began shooting at random.

Nearly four years later, Woods is now a graduate student at the University of Texas and the executive director of Students for Gun-Free Schools. As such, he has become one of the foremost advocates for gun control on college campuses and is now trying to defeat a proposal to allow Texas students to carry handguns on campus.

"If you bring guns into an environment that is safe, you elevate the risk level," Woods said. "We will run the risk of more small shootings, more crimes of passion."

But Texas is a state where the Second Amendment is the golden rule, and the proposal in the Texas State House would allow guns on campus for the same reason that Woods wants to keep them off -- to head off another tragic school shooting like the one that changed Virginia Tech.

"After seeing what happened at Virginia Tech, I decided I never wanted to see a repeat of that situation occur on a Texas campus," said state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio. "So I introduced a bill to permit people who have licenses to carry weapons, take those weapons into campus buildings."

In the opening days of Texas' 82nd Legislature, Wentworth introduced his bill, which would allow concealed handgun license holders to bring their guns into university buildings. This bill is identical to the one he proposed during the last legislative session in 2009. The previous legislation passed in the Senate, but was never heard on the House floor because the legislature "ran out of time," Wentworth said.

Passage of this year's bill "looks pretty promising," he said. It has 14 co-sponsors in the Senate and more than half of the state's representatives have signed on to the House's version.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan132011

Texas Aims to Relax Gun Law; Part of Larger Trend?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- The shooting tragedy in Tucson has intensified some calls for gun control, but one state may soon be relaxing its firearms law further, signaling a larger trend across the country.

A bill pending in the Texas state legislature would allow employees to carry legally-owned concealed handguns in their vehicles on their employer's property.

If it passes, Texas would join 13 other states that already allow employees this freedom -- Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah.

Texas State Senator Glenn Hegar, who filed the bill, argues that it is an important step in protecting Texans' Second Amendment rights.

"Law-abiding citizens, people who have no desire to do any harm to others except than to have their legal firearms in their vehicle which no one knows is even there doesn't harm anyone.  They simply want to protect themselves.  Those people are being punished," Hegar told ABC News.  "Who we have to focus on are people who are criminals.  Those who want to do harm.  Those who have deranged thoughts who want to kill people on a shooting spree."

The legislation doesn't come as a surprise, given Texas' relaxed gun laws, but it comes at a time when sensitivity over gun control is heightened in the wake of the shooting in Arizona.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan112011

Glock 19: How Did Unemployed Loughner Buy Expensive Pistol?

Photo Courtesy - Pima County Sheriff's Department(TUCSON, Ariz.) – Questions remain about how Jared Lee Loughner could afford the Glock 19 he allegedly used in the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The popular firearm costs about $450, not including ammunition and magazines.

Loughner legally purchased the Glock at a Sportsman's Warehouse chain store in Tucson on Nov. 30 after completing a form and passing a background check. Walmart Inc. confirmed that Loughner tried to buy ammunition at one of its stores but was refused service due to "strange behavior," according to the FBI. He was later able to get it at another Walmart.

Sportsman's Warehouse had no comment about Loughner's method of payment. Jason Ogan, spokesman for the Pima County Sheriff's Department, said he did not have information related to Loughner's payment method either.

Loughner appeared Monday before a Phoenix judge, who assigned him two public defenders. Based on a financial affidavit that Loughner signed, the judge said he might not be able to afford defense attorneys.

Six people were killed and 14 injured in Tucson on Saturday. Giffords, shot in the left hemisphere of the brain, was in critical condition in a Tucson hospital. Loughner is charged with one federal count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress, two counts of killing an employee of the federal government, and two counts of attempting to kill a federal employee.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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