Stories about gun control/gun rights

Staff Reports

House Passes Bill To Allow ‘Concealed Carry’ Across State Lines

Dec. 7, 2017

Scott Neuman


The House approved a bill on Wednesday that would ease legal restrictions for carrying concealed firearms across state lines – a move pushed by the National Rifle Association that comes just weeks after mass shootings in Las Vegas and Texas.

On a mostly party-line vote, the measure easily passed, 231-198, although 14 Republicans voted no. Six Democrats voted for the so-called reciprocity measure, which would allow a gun owner with the proper permit in any state to carry a concealed firearm to another state where it is also legal.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is likely to encounter a much tougher battle.

In the House version, GOP lawmakers added a measure aimed at strengthening tracking in the national background-check database of legal and mental health records that might prevent some gun purchases. Just last month it was revealed that Devin Patrick Kelley, the gunman who killed 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., legally purchase firearms used in the attack despite a record of domestic assault in the Air Force that should have disqualified him.

However, as The New York Times reports: “… the background check measure was not enough to win over most Democrats, nor did it persuade law enforcement officials in some of the largest cities, including New York, who say the legislation would force locales with strict gun laws to bow to places with few or no gun restrictions.”

The bill angered many Democrats who argued that following mass shootings that have killed 80 people, the times called for stricter, not looser gun measures.

Connecticut Democrat Rep. Elizabeth Esty — who represents Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six teachers and staff were killed in a 2012 mass shooting – said the bill would undermine states’ rights, “hamstring law enforcement and allow dangerous criminals to walk around with hidden guns anywhere and at any time. It’s unspeakable that this is Congress’ response to the worst gun tragedies in American history,” according to The Associated Press.

The NRA’s executive director, Chris Cox, is quoted in the Times as saying Thursday’s vote is a “watershed” for Second Amendment rights and that the bill would ensure “all law-abiding citizens in our great country can protect themselves in the manner they see fit without accidentally running afoul of the law.”

In the Senate, supporters would likely need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster by Democrats.

Youth baseball team to hold AR-15 raffle despite outcry

CBS/AP February 19, 2018

NEOSHO, Mo. — A Missouri youth baseball team is moving ahead with a raffle of an AR-15 rifle despite criticism it received after a similar gun was used to kill 17 in a Florida high school.

Coach Levi Patterson told the Kansas City Star the fundraiser for the third-grade team in Neosho, Missouri, had been planned before last week’s shooting in Parkland, Florida.

He says his heart breaks for the shooting victims, but said gun raffles have been going on for years. He also said none of the children on the team would be forced to sell raffle tickets. Players selling tickets range in age from 7 to 9.

The weapon was offered by a player’s father who is a co-founder of a local gun store. The winner must pass a background check.

Meanwhile, there are other gun raffles across the country facing criticism as well. According to CBS affiliate KMOV-TV, that includes raffles hosted by two candidates.

Austin Petersen is hoping to get the Republican nomination for Senate in Missouri this August. His campaign posted an AR-15 giveaway on its website back in September. He told KMOV-TV that the gun was chosen because it was provided by a donor.

“If somebody gave us a 1911 sidearm, we would have given that away,” Petersen said.

He also said he “feels for the victims” in Florida but added “there isn’t any tragedy that justifies taking away the rights of innocent people.”

Republican Tyler Tannahill of Kansas launched and “AR-15 Giveaway” on his Facebook page the day before the Florida school shooting. While the Facebook post was taken down, the raffle is still available on his campaign website.

South Dakota Governor Signs Law Allowing Guns In Schools

March 8, 2013

Mark Memmott


South Dakota on Friday became what’s “believed to be the first state to pass a law that specifically allows teachers to carry firearms,” as The New York Times writes.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) signed the “school sentinels” bill that gives districts the right to “create, establish, and supervise the arming of school employees, hired security personnel, or volunteers.” In some other states, less specific provisions in current laws could give school employees the right to carry arms. As NBC News has reported, 18 states “allow adults to have a loaded gun on school grounds, usually as long as they have written permission.”

After training, teachers and other staffers in South Dakota could choose to bring guns with them to school if their districts want to set up “sentinel” programs.

South Dakota’s Argus Leader writes the the law signed today was “hotly debated this legislative session … it was pitched as a way for small schools without nearby law enforcement to protect themselves against shooters or other dangers.”

The Rapid City Journal says the law has been enacted “despite opposition from the education community.” Don Kirkegaard, superintendent of the Meade School District, tells the Journal that “I just wish … everybody would have talked a little bit together before we started passing legislation.”

The law’s passage and signing follows, of course, the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 students and six educators dead.

Under the new law, before creating a sentinel program a school district must “obtain the approval of the law enforcement official who has jurisdiction over the school premises.”

The law goes on to state that:

— “Any person who acts as a school sentinel … shall first successfully complete a school sentinel training course as defined by the Law Enforcement Officers Standards Commission.”

— Districts may not require any teacher or school employee to arm themselves, and “no individual teacher or other school employee may be censured, criticized, or discriminated against for unwillingness or refusal to carry firearms pursuant to this Act.”

— “The failure or refusal of any school board to implement a school sentinel program does not constitute a cause of action against the board, the school district, or any of its employees.”

— “A decision by a school board to implement a school sentinel program pursuant to section 1 of this Act may be referred to a vote of the qualified voters of the school district by the filing of a petition signed by five percent of the registered voters in the school district.”

— “Any person, other than a law enforcement officer or school sentinel acting pursuant to section 1 of this Act, who intentionally carries, has in his possession, stores, keeps, leaves, places, or puts into the possession of another person, any firearm, or air gun, whether or not the firearm or air gun is designed, adapted, used, or intended primarily for imitative or noisemaking purposes, or any dangerous weapon, on or in any elementary or secondary school premises, vehicle, or building or any premises, vehicle, or building used or leased for elementary or secondary school functions, whether or not any person is endangered by such actions, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

“This section does not apply to starting guns while in use at athletic events, firearms, or air guns at firing ranges, gun shows, and supervised schools or sessions for training in the use of firearms. This section does not apply to the ceremonial presence of unloaded weapons at color guard ceremonies.”

We asked in December whether teachers who have “concealed weapons” permits should be allowed to have guns in schools. Nearly 58 percent of those who answered said yes; about 42 percent said no.

Why Americans Started Buying Military-Style Weapons Like the One Used in the Florida Shooting


By Olivia B. Waxman February 16, 2018

It’s become a sadly familiar American routine. The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., bore many of the hallmarks of the other school shootings that have shocked the nation over the course of the last weeks, months and years. Among those similarities was the weapon used by accused shooter Nikolas Cruz: the AR-15.

This semiautomatic version of the U.S. military’s M-16 infantry rifle and similar weapons have been used in most of the deadliest mass shootings in the last decade, including the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In some states like Florida, they’re easier to buy than a handgun.

So how did a military-style weapon become so widespread among civilians?

The answer requires going all the way back to the arms buildup during the Cold War, as C.J. Chivers describes in The Gun, a book on the invention of the assault rifle. Soviet Senior Sgt. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov is credited with developing the Kalashnikov rifle more commonly known as the AK-47 in the late 1940s. (“AK” stands for Avtomat Kalashnikova, the automatic by Kalashnikov.) The weapon eventually made its way to other communist countries, such as China and Vietnam. As Chivers described this week on the New York Times’ The Daily, when Americans found themselves “outgunned” in Vietnam in 1962, Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara ordered the Pentagon to make one to match it. The result was the M16. A lighter semiautomatic-only version of was available to civilians shortly after. That gun was the AR-15.

Civilians started to be able to buy the weapons shortly after they were developed for the military, but Chivers argues that doing so was still relatively uncommon. Many American gun-owners didn’t know or didn’t think about the option of owning a semiautomatic weapon.

That changed after a shooting at a Stockton, Calif., elementary school on Jan. 17, 1989, that left 5 dead and 29 wounded.

“Before Stockton, most people didn’t know you could buy those guns,” Chris Bartocci, a former employee of AR-15 manufacturer Colt and author of Black Rifle II, told CNN. He argues that people went out and bought the weapon after reading and hearing the news reports about the school shooting.

The Feb. 6, 1989, TIME cover story tried to make sense of how the gunman got a hold of a Chinese-made semiautomatic weapon in the first place. It reported that as trade increased following the normalization of relations, so did imports of Chinese copies of the AK-47, “which soared from a mere 4,000 a year as recently as 1985-86 to more than 40,000” in 1988. AR-15 sales went up too.

Also boosting sales was another one of the major domestic stories of the 1980s: the crack epidemic. “Law-enforcement officials note that the rise of semiautomatic weaponry parallels almost exactly the virtual takeover of parts of big cities by crack dealers,” the story noted. Robert Stutman, who ran the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York State operation back then, told the magazine that “the paranoia induced by the drug, which most of the traffickers use themselves, makes them pick the best weapons available for protecting themselves, and they have the money for it.”

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Then, when the police couldn’t match the dealers’ firepower, citizens who felt unsafe started buying these weapons themselves for self-protection:

The final and most dismaying turn in this cycle: responsible, law-abiding citizens — afflicted by a lack of confidence in the police, reading every morning and watching on TV every night the stories about shootouts endangering innocent bystanders — start arming themselves in case they have to join the battle. It used to be that the great majority of American gun owners bought their weapons for hunting or sport (target shooting, for instance). But recent surveys show nearly 50% mentioning self-protection as their primary reason. Says Mark Warr, a sociologist at the University of Texas: ”It’s a giving up on the system. People have lost confidence in the ability of local government to control crime. There is a growing feeling that ‘We must do it ourselves.’”

As that mentality spread, more Americans purchased military-style weapons for non-military self-defense purposes.

When the school shooting in Stockton occurred, some people responded by seeking to put an end to that trend. As Chivers has noted, the event “was part of the impetus for bans on assault-style weapons at the state and national level.” President Bill Clinton signed the most famous one in 1994, which included the AR-15 and other versions of military-style semiautomatic rifles.

At the same time, the news about the shooting raised awareness that military-style weapons were in fact available for purchase by civilians. In the midterm elections after the ban passed, Clinton’s party lost a net 54 seats in the House and eight in the Senate, giving Republicans a majority in both chambers of Congress for the first time since 1952. And Chivers argues that the conversation about the ban, ironically, helped raise awareness of the AR-15 and its variants even more, thus increasing demand.

Congress didn’t renew the ban when it came up for reauthorization. Because of the political fallout, Democrats “tended to look the other way” when it expired in 2004, as TIME previously reported. In the years since, fear that a ban would return — and fear of increased restrictions on gun-ownership in general — have at times driven increased purchases.

By 2013, the National Rifle Association reported that Americans owned about five million AR-15s.

From Social Media

The 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference begins on Thursday and features panels such as “The Heller Supreme Court Decision: The Man and the Case that Secured Your 2nd Amendment Rights” and “The 2nd Amendment: 10 Years after Heller,” both celebrating the Supreme Court decision that interpreted the 2nd amendment as granting citizens the right to possess firearms unconnected with service in a militia as the original language of the Constitution indicates. Trump is scheduled to speak at the Conference on Friday morning.

The same people that said 13 and 14 year olds were perfectly mature enough to date Roy Moore are now saying 17 and 18 year olds are too immature to have opinions on gun control.

Staff Reports