Monday, January 28, 2013

Battleground America: One Nation, Under The Gun

Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, Battleground America: One Nation, Under the Gun, looks at the evolution of the NRA from a sporting club that encouraged gun control to a radical lobbying group.

Lepore writes:

In the two centuries following the adoption of the Bill of Rights, in 1791, no amendment received less attention in the courts than the Second, except the Third.
Between 1968 and 2012, the idea that owning and carrying a gun is both a fundamental American freedom and an act of citizenship gained wide acceptance and, along with it, the principle that this right is absolute and cannot be compromised, gun-control legislation was diluted, defeated, overturned, or allowed to expire.

* Note - this article was first reported in the April 17, 2012 GVP Report.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Case for Gun Policy Reforms in America

An October report from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, The Case for Gun Policy Reforms in America, examines policies and initiatives for reducing gun violence.
"When you deny high-risk people access to guns, the evidence shows that saves lives," said lead author Daniel Webster. "And when you regulate all gun sales, fewer guns get diverted to criminals."
Sections in the report include: The Burden of Gun Violence in the United States; Why Firearms Prohibition for High-Risk Persons Should be Broadened; Regulating Gun Sales Can Prevent Diversion of Guns to Criminals and Underage Youth; and Right-to-Carry Laws Do Not Make Us Safer and Likely Increase Aggravated Assaults.

*Note - this report was first reported in the October 30, 2012 GVP Report.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Obama: Now is the time to take action against gun violence

The GVP Report - January 22, 2013

In The News
Obama's Weekly AddressPresident Obama announced a series of concrete steps we should take to protect our children and our communities from gun violence including universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and helping schools hire more resource officers.  In his weekly address he said he "would do everything in my power to make them a reality." .  Think Progress highlights what you need to know about the proposals.
Obama campaign to become nonprofit Organizing for Action. The group will advocate for the president's policies including reducing gun violence. 
New York Governor Cuomo signs the nation's first gun violence prevention bill since Newtown. The package includes fortifying the state's assault weapons ban, limiting ammunition magazine size and strengthens mental health regulations. NY State Police have launched a hotline to answer questions about the new laws.
Newtown Superintendent testimony In D.C., the House Democratic Steering Committee held a hearing, "Gun Violence Prevention: A Call to Action" that included testimony from Newtown, CT School Superintendent Janet Robinson. (Her testimony begins at 33:35 into the video).
► The President has directed the CDC to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence.  The Last Word looks at how and why the NRA suppressed gun violence research.
► A new report from the National Research Council, U.S. Health in International Perspective, finds "the prevalence of firearms in the United States looms large as an explanation for higher death rates from violence, suicidal impulses, and accidental shootings."

Community Support
Molly Smith, who is organizing theJanuary 26th March on Washington for Gun Control, explains Why I Am Marching for Gun Control.
Summit on Reducing Gun ViolenceMore than 20 gun policy experts and government officials met for a two day "Summit on Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis" at Johns Hopkins University.  Video of the presenters can be viewed here.  The presentations will also be published in February. You may pre-order the book here. 
Time Magazine, Your Brain in a Shootout: Guns, Fear and Flawed Instincts. Winning a gunfight without shooting innocent people typically requires realistic, expensive training and a special kind of person, a fact that has been strangely absent in today's discussions.
Dale Hansen, The Detroit News, The NRA Needs to Look in the Mirror gives examples of how the NRA has fought for nearly unlimited access to any and all guns. 
Benedict Carey and Anemona Hartocollis, The New York Times,Warning Signs of Violent Acts Often Unclear. One fundamental problem with looking for "warning signs" is that it is more art than science. The sort of young, troubled males most likely to commit school shootings often do not qualify for any diagnosis.
The Daily ShowJon Stewart, The Daily Show,devoted his entire show on January 8th to discussing the problem of gun violence in America.
Alex Seitz-Wald,, The Hitler Gun Control Lie. Gun rights activists who cite the dictator as a reason against gun control have their history dangerously wrong.
Media Matters, Nine Media Myths About Proposals to Strengthen Gun Laws, offers facts to dispel the myths and falsehoods being put forth by those against Obama's gun violence prevention proposals. complied list of some of the people either killed or injured by guns on Gun Appreciation Day. After learning of five people shot at gun shows on Saturday, Gawker decided it was time to create this larger list.

What the Gun Lobby is Doing
► Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) sends an email to his supporters warning "they're coming for your guns."  "You and I are literally surrounded," it reads.
► Saturday, January 19th, was Gun Appreciation Day.  Go here to find out what you should know about the event.
► Rick Perry, Louis Gohmert, Rand Paul and Ted Nugent are just a few of the people reacting strongly against the president's gun violence prevention proposals. Go here to see some of the craziest anti-Obama gun reactions.
► Mother Jones, Unmasking the NRA's inner circle, that includes a CEO who sells Bushmaster assault rifles and a top director who lives in Newtown.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gun Violence Can Be Solved With Science, Public Health Experts Say

The Denver Post writes:
Gun violence must be treated as a public-health issue - such as alcohol, smoking and traffic - say people concerned about gun-related death rates from mass shootings and random shots nationwide.

"Guns are where tobacco was in the 1950s," said Garen Wintemute, director of the Violence Prevention Research Program, who practices emergency medicine at the University of California at Davis School of Medicine. "There's a little bit of science and a great deal of reluctance to do anything with the results."

Note - This article was first reported in the November 27, 2012 GVP Report.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

White House weighs broad gun violence prevention agenda

The GVP Report  - January 8, 2013

In The News

► The White House is weighing a broad, comprehensive approach to curbing gun violence. In addition to reinstating the expired ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines other measures being considered include universal background checks, a national database of certain gun sales and strengthened mental health checks. 

@GunDeaths Slate partners with @GunDeaths to collect data on gun deaths since Dec. 14th. You can help them draw a more complete picture of gun deaths in America.


The Supreme Court won't overturn a Georgia law banning guns in churches.The court refused to hear an appeal from which asked to overturn a lower court decision upholding Georgia's law banning guns in churches.          

► States with the worst mass shootings in 2012 saw smaller increase in gun sales than states in the South and the West.

Technology exists that would make guns safer. Biometrics and grip pattern detection can sense the registered owner of a gun and allow only that person to fire it. But the gun industry has no interest in making smart guns.        

States have subsidized makers of assault rifles to tune of $19 million. A Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting examination of tax records shows millions in tax breaks, most within the past five years.         

Smith & Wesson broke Clinton-era gun safety pledge to boost profits. Gun manufacturer had agreed new firearms would not take ammunition magazines larger than 10 rounds. But then introduced a new line of high-capacity pistols and its first ever military-style assault rifle.        

The NRA myth of arming the good guys. Mother Jones investigation shows mass shootings in the US are on the rise and ordinary citizens with guns don't stop them.

Community Support

Bill MoyersBill Moyers, NRA's Vision: A Nation Packing Heat Wayne LaPierre means business. Big business. So naturally, in a country where even life and death are measured by the profit margin, the cure for gun violence is, yes, more guns! Bigger profits.  (read full transcript here)

Naomi Zeveloff, Jewish Daily Forward,Choosing Sensitive Details in One Sandy Hook Story. "After interviewing the mother of a child killed at Newtown I wondered about sharing painful details. She had made it clear that she wanted the public to have a picture of the damage inflicted on the children's bodies.  I now believe she told me about what happened to Noah's body so that I would use it in the story, and give the public a clear picture of the brutality of the Sandy Hook shooting."

Spocko, FireDogLake, Guns Don't Sell Guns, People Do. How the NRA turns death into a sales tool and how to stop them.  Let's say that people have finally had enough with the way the NRA leadership is driving the discussion. What can you do, to make a difference? Here are some specific actions you can take.

Rachel Marsden, Baltimore Sun, In NRA-land, We're All Crack Shots and Cold-Blooded Killers.  We need sensible, effective, intelligent solutions, not gratuitously self-serving agenda-pushing. Because the more out of hand things get, the greater the risk of reaching the point of total crackdown on freedom.

John Wasik,, Gun Liability Insurance: Still a Viable Proposal. Let the insurance companies price the risk according to age, personal history, location and other factors. Like insuring any other form of property - cars, homes - you can buy as many guns as you want.  You'll just need to insure them.

Liam Madden,, Iraq Vet: Newtown Changed My Mind on Gun Control. I'm a hunter and a vet, and I revere the Second Amendment.  But I used bankrupt logic: It's time for gun control.

Daniel Darling,, My Take: It's Time for Evangelicals to Speak Up About Guns. An unwillingness to entertain common-sense restrictions casts the evangelical faith in an unnecessarily unfavorable light. It may cause some to think we love our guns more than our neighbors. There are many things about which Christian should be unyielding; the right to own a killing machine should not be one of them.

Geoffrey Canada, New York Daily News, New York's Newtown: The epidemic of city children killed by handguns has haunted me throughout my career. As someone who has been to way too many funerals, trying to comfort sobbing mothers over the murders of their beautiful children, I find it incomprehensible that it is harder to buy and own a car in American than it is to buy and own a handgun. At the time that the Second Amendment was passed, it was inconceivable we would turn those guns on ourselves and commence a self-slaughter. 

What the Gun Lobby is Doing

Wayne LaPierre on Meet the Press, "If it's crazy to put more guns in schools, then call me crazy."  LaPierre said there was no chance new gun control will pass in Congress.  Israel's Foreign Ministry rejected LaPierre's claim that Israel serves as proof that guns are needed in schools noting that armed guards at schools are meant to stop terrorists, not crazed or disgruntled gunmen. Jeanne Assam, who was working as a security guard when she confronted a gunman at New Life Church, called LaPierre's proposals "ridiculous."

Asa Hutchinson, who has been tasked with leading NRA's School Shield program, has ties to the security industry.  Hutchinson sits on the board of Pinkerton Government Services, a firm that provides security officers and other services.   Hutchinson has called for "trained, armed and professional security officers" in all schools.

► Southern Poverty Law Center notes that the far right is in a frenzy over the possibility of gun legislation. In a chilling development, a well-know neo-Nazi posted the photo and home address of a Colorado Congresswoman who proposed a ban on high-capacity magazines.  Reporters at a White Plains, New York newspaper found themselves under similar harassment after the paper published the names and addresses of handgun permit holders.

► reports that the NRA has recently thrown its weight behind an industry campaign to deregulate and promote the use of silencers. The American Silencer Association is working to rebrand the silencer as a safety device.