Entry for April 19, 2007

Mike Lane’s (email) cartoon of April 17 on the Virginia Tech shootings. Lane left the Baltimore Sun in a buyout in 2004, after 32 years. He tells his story at Cagle’s blog for July 14, 2004.

According to Virginians Against Handgun Violence, the NRA keeps a “hit list” of gun control advocates. Here’s a listing of Virginia weapons legislation and how the bills fared during 2007.

The Coalition Against Gun Violence takes a look at how the NRA has worked against restrictions on:

The Jurist maintains links to gun control court cases here and to its news coverage and links to sites here.

At our writing practice group at the library tonight, Natalie, a nurse and pro-Bush Republican said this about gun control:

The second amendment was talking about muskets. It didn’t give folks the right to have nuclear weapons…or for that matter, cannons.

According to data from the National Opinion Reseach Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, during the period 1972 to 2006 the percentage of American households that reported having any guns in the home has dropped nearly 20 percentage points: from a high of 54 percent in 1977 to 34.5 percent in 2006. In its report on the weapons used in the Virgiia Tech shooting, The Violence Policy Center notes

Since the mid-1980s, the gun industry has embraced increased firepower and capacity to resell the shrinking base of gun buyers in America…Formerly, the most popular handgun design was the revolver, most often containing six shots. In 1980, semiautomatic pistols accounted for only 32 percent of the 2.3 million handguns produced in America. The majority were revolvers. By 1991…semiautomatic pistols accounting for 74 percent of the 1.8 million handguns produced that year.

The Center has a report on trends in gun ownership here.

The Brady Campaign to to Stop Gun Violence, which worked to gain passage of the 1994 Brady Gun Law says

The Brady Campaign is working nonstop to get the message out that there are solutions to gun violence. We can ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips that make it so easy to kill quickly . . . we can require Brady background checks for all gun sales, including at gun shows . . . we can stop large-volume gun sales that supply illegal gun traffickers. These are just some of the steps we can take to make it harder for the wrong people to get guns.

It proposes the following actions:

According to the campaign, the current Federal legislation includes:

  • H.R.96 (Michael Castle, R-DE) that would require background checks for all firearm sales at gun shows. Although federally-licensed firearm dealers (FFLs) are required to conduct Brady criminal background checks when they sell guns at these gun shows, flea markets and swap meets, unlicensed individuals who set up tables right next to FFLs are not required to conduct background checks in most states. Terrorists, criminals and other people prohibited from buying or possessing guns seek out unlicensed sellers, because they know that they can simply put down their money and walk away with deadly weapons. Additionally, because unlicensed sellers are not well-regulated and do not keep records, criminals exploit gun shows to sell firearms and law enforcement has difficulty tracing gun-show firearms that turn up at crime scenes.
  • H.R. 297 (Carolyn McCarthy, D-NY) would provide grants and other incentives to help states forward all relevant records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The NICS contains records on criminals, drug addicts, domestic abusers and others prohibited from buying guns. However, because many states do not forward all relevant records, there are many gaps in the federal NICS – gaps exploited by people who are prohibited from buying guns.

Additionally, the site mentions 2005’s S. 683, the Child Proof Handgun Act (Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) and H.R. 1423 (Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), which never made it out of Committee. The bills would have required a handgun that can only be fired by an authorized user. Modeled on a 2002 NJ law that required dynamic grip technology developed by the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the , once it becomes commercially available, such a gun, in addition to protecting children, requiring handguns that can only be fired by an authorized user would also be a major blow to gun traffickers, because they necessarily need guns that can be used by anyone — most importantly the many criminals who are barred by law from buying firearms directly.

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Fhere’s an archive of coverage by the Richmond Times Dispatch and Channel 10, the local NBC affiliate, as well as one for the Roanoke Times.

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