All Articles Tagged "gun laws"
(Chicago Sun Times) — As state after state voted to let residents carry concealed guns, Illinois has held out, for a long list of reasons: A strong gun control movement. A dynasty of powerful Chicago mayors. A line-up of state leaders who oppose expanding access to guns. With Wisconsin now on the verge of adopting concealed carry, Illinois soon will be all alone, the last state with a complete ban on carrying concealed weapons. That makes it the next big prize in the fierce national contest over gun control, with the National Rifle Association and its allies targeting the 50th state.
Finally somebody is getting in trouble for playing the race card and this time, it ain’t a black person.
Garry McCarthy, former chief of police of Newark, NJ and current Chicago top cop, has ruffled the feathers of the NRA and other pro-gun advocates with some comments he made recently at St. Sabina, a liberal black church in the heart of Chicago’s South Side. McCarthy, hand-picked by newly elected mayor, Rahm Emanuel, was speaking at a church pastored by the infamous Father Michael Pfleger, an outspoken supporter of limited gun rights. Well McCarthy must have been caught up in the spirit because he started spouting off about the peculiar nature of gun laws and “government sponsored racism”.
Said McCarthy, “So here’s what I want to tell you. See, let’s see if we can make a connection here. Slavery. Segregation. Black Codes. Jim Crow. What did they all have in common? Anybody getting’ scared? Government sponsored racism. I told you I wasn’t afraid [of race]. I told you I wasn’t afraid. Now I want you to connect one more dot on that chain of the African American history in this country, and tell me if I’m crazy: Federal gun laws that facilitate the flow of illegal firearms into our urban centers across this country, that are killing our black and brown children.”
McCarthy sure has a lot to say about guns and gun laws. It’s just not clear what exactly it is that he was trying to say. Is he promoting gun control or does he believe that gun control, in itself, is racist? If it’s the latter, I happen to agree with him.
Since the days of slavery blacks in one way or another have been the subjects of restrictive gun laws. Both enslaved and free blacks were prohibited from possessing firearms, except under very restrictive conditions. Gun restrictions for blacks gained traction after Nat Turner’s Rebellion in 1831, a revolt that caused the south to become increasingly irrational in its fears. Even after slavery various black codes adopted throughout the country required blacks to obtain a license before carrying or possessing firearms.
Historically blacks have been one of the major vocal oppositions to gun control, including the Deacons for Defense and Justice as well as the Black Panthers, who infamously marched on the California capitol to protest the Mulford Act of 1967, a bill inspired by the Panthers Police Patrols that prohibited the public carrying of loaded firearms. Even Clarence Thomas, writing in response to a recent Supreme Court decision to expend gun control, cited his opposition to gun restrictions, suggesting that “…when the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups proliferated, the use of firearms for self-defense was often the only way black citizens could protect themselves against mob violence.” It may seem like ancient history now but remember that after Obama was elected there was a reported run on gun and ammo supply shops, and just last year some members of the Tea Party staged several armed demonstrations around the capital as a “symbol” of their freedom.
But back to McCarthy and his misguided attempt at code talking to “the people.” If you listen to the whole segment, it is clear that McCarthy is trying to make an impression during his first weeks on his new job. But giving him the benefit of the doubt, that his intentions are genuine, he does have a point. Maybe we should begin to insert some common sense back into this debate about gun control. A couple of weeks prior to his controversial appearance McCarthy made similarly controversial yet not wildly publicized statements about what he felt about a Chicago rally to end the war on drugs: “If we just lock up a drug dealer, we may be actually causing violence. Because there’s an established market were somebody is going to go, seeking drugs. That’s demand. As long as that demand exists at a location, that supply will show back up.”
Many urban areas are awash in gun violence, most of which is the result of the black market sale of drugs. If we end this losing battle in the war on drugs, we end street violence. Yet few leaders are prepared to confront this reality and even fewer are willing to acknowledge that gun-control is not about protecting the honest working person. Stricter gun laws just mean more men without the presumption of violence are incarcerated just for the simple act of carrying an “unlicensed” gun.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
(Chicago Sun Times) — Giving gun-control advocates a major win, the House Thursday rejected a bid by Downstate gun-rights advocates to permit Illinoisans to carry concealed weapons. The measure pushed by Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) failed by a 65-32 vote, with one voting present. Seventy-one votes were necessary for passage. “Folks, 49 other states have some kind of carry permit process, and how can they be wrong? And it has not been the Wild West there,” Phelps said before the vote. “Everywhere this has been allowed to become law, crime has gone down considerably,” Phelps said. The outcome represented a victory for Gov. Quinn, who earlier this week threatened to veto the legislation. Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel also lobbied lawmakers against the measure.
(Chicago Tribune) — Gov. Pat Quinn sought to stall a push to allow concealed carry in Illinois, saying Tuesday that he would veto any measure lawmakers sent him that would allow citizens to walk around with loaded guns in public. “I don’t think we’re in the business of trying to increase danger to the people of Illinois. We want to work with our law enforcement and prevent bad things from happening,” the governor said at a morning news conference. The threat of a veto from Quinn did little to deter supporters who have been emboldened by last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that tossed out Chicago’s long-standing gun ban. Hours after Quinn announced his opposition in Chicago, a House committee recommended approval of the latest version of a concealed-carry measure. Illinois and Wisconsin are the only states without some form of such a law.
(Chicago Tribune) — The debate over whether to allow Illinois residents to carry concealed guns with a permit was waged from the Capitol to Chicago on Wednesday, well ahead of any actual vote on the issue. Up north, outgoing Mayor Richard Daley warned of a city in which parks, college campuses, malls and other public places could be crowded with gun-toting citizens if the General Assembly passes the conceal carry bill. Daley said he and Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel sent a letter urging lawmakers to vote it down. “Do you want guns at your neighborhood festival or block party? Or in a park, like the one we’re here today?” Daley asked at a news conference at the Austin Town Hall Cultural Center, where he was joined by several aldermen and anti-violence advocates. “CTA buses or trains? Do you want students with concealed weapons walking around every college campus in the state?” The conceal carry legislation cleared a House committee this year but is being fine-tuned. Sponsoring Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, said he’s “three to four votes short right now” and said no vote will happen until late April at the earliest.
Students in Texas may soon be able to pack their books and pencils beside their guns and amo before heading to campus. More than half the members of the Texas House have signed on to a measure directing universities to allow concealed handguns, says the Associated Press. It would follow a similar bill passed by the Senate in 2009 and this one is expected to pass as well. Republican Governor Rick Perry has said he’s in favor of the idea.
With 38 public universities and more than half a million students,Texas would be the second state to pass such legislation, followed by Colorado. Supporters argue that the best defense against mass shootings, similar to the ones at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois universities, is a student who can shoot back.
History has certainly shown us that two wrongs always make a right.
Similar firearms measures have been proposed in about a dozen other states, but all face strong opposition, especially from college leaders, reports The Associated Press.
(Chicago Sun Times) — Flanked by the parents of slain Chicago Police officer Thomas Wortham IV, Mayor Daley on Monday proposed a package of new gun laws that might have kept Wortham’s alleged killers off the streets. Felons convicted of illegal gun possession or charged with other gun crimes would no longer be eligible for probation, under one of four new wrinkles in Daley’s annual package of gun control legislation. The lame-duck mayor is also proposing: a mandatory, ten-year prison sentence for pointing a gun at a first responder; a separate felony charge for parents or guardians who bring a child along when they commit or attempt a felony and automatic transfer from juvenile to criminal court for 15- to 17-year-olds charged with possession or use of a firearm. Wortham survived two tours of duty in Iraq, only to be gunned down in May in front of his parents’ home by thugs intent on stealing his motorcycle. The slain officer’s boyhood home is located across from a park the officer had worked to make safe for local kids.
(Washington Post) — In the 2½ years since the U.S. Supreme Court ended the District’s handgun ban, hundreds of residents in Washington’s safest, most well-to-do neighborhoods have armed themselves, registering far more guns than people in poorer, crime-plagued areas of the city, according to D.C. police data. Since the landmark court ruling in June 2008, records show, more than 1,400 firearms have been registered with D.C. police, most in the western half of the District. Among those guns, nearly 300 are in the high-income, low-crime Georgetown, Palisades and Chevy Chase areas of Northwest. In all of the neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River – a broad swath of the city with more than 52,000 households, many of them in areas beset by poverty and drug-related violence – about 240 guns have been registered. Although police declined to identify gun owners, citing privacy rules, they provided a breakdown by age, sex and location, from the start of firearms registration in July 2008 to the end of 2010. Of the 1,400-plus weapons, more than 1,000 are handguns, mainly semiautomatics, and the rest are rifles and shotguns. In the 20016 Zip code, encompassing some of the District’s wealthiest enclaves in upper Northwest, 151 firearms have been registered. That is more than 10 percent of the citywide gun total in an area with about 14,000 households, according to U.S. Census data.
(The Root) — In the days and weeks following the Tucson shooting, lawmakers and activists have viewed the tragedy as an opportunity for reviving debate around gun control. New York Representative Carolyn McCarthy, for example, introduced a bill prohibiting high-capacity ammunition magazines. Activists who have long organized around the toll of gun violence in urban black communities, such as the Reverend Al Sharpton, saw their efforts around gun accessibility momentarily boosted in the media.
– Martin Luther King, Jr., (New York Amsterdam News, Dec. 1963)
Are mass slayings of innocent men, women and children with guns something that we have to just accept in America? Should we become more serious about restricting access to guns? After the recent and tragic shooting in Arizona, many individuals are now contemplating whether legislative actions should be implemented to prevent people like the alleged gunmen Jared Lee Loughner from destroying lives. Over the past few days, the very common cliché that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” has been repeated over and over in the cable chatter. Certainly, this statement is a fact when the veneer is removed, but it is also true that it is easier for people to kill people if they use guns.
A plethora of gun rights advocates have voiced strong opinions that fire-arms are not the problem and that the introduction of stricter laws to control guns is unnecessary. Conversely, some protagonists of gun control and interpreters of constitutional law have passionately exclaimed that private citizens should not be allowed to possess guns. Who is right?
First, should all civilians be banned from possessing any kind of firearm? To be sure, the Second Amendment does preserve and guarantee the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. This interpretation has been clearly supported by pre-twentieth century Supreme Court decisions (e.g., Andrews v. State), a recent Supreme Court ruling (i.e., District of Columbia v. Heller), writings of the Founding Fathers and early constitutional commentaries (i.e., The Federalist Papers, The 1833 Commentary on the Constitution of the United States, etc.). However, it is relatively safe to state that not everyone- specifically, criminals and dangerously mentally ill- should be able to have a gun and be able to take it anywhere. Objective evidence and statistics do indicate that nearly 100,000 people are shot in our country every year and almost 90% of murders and gun violence are committed by convicted felons. Hence, although we do have the right to keep and bear arms, there are clearly problems that exist within the context of private ownership of guns.
As aforementioned, myriad individuals who support gun rights truly believe that stricter laws are unnecessary. Is this a valid viewpoint? Well, there are no easy answers relative to this question. There are some commentators who would state that more restrictive gun laws can actually lead to more deaths. Though not universally true, this has been exhibited in Brazil, New Jersey, Hawaii, District of Columbia, Illinois, etc.
Certain gun right advocates would also make the assertion that stricter gun control laws would not affect felons because they purchase their guns illegally. To a large degree, this statement is valid. Certainly, criminals and “crazy” people will always find a way to obtain firearms, exclusive of the legal framework for guns. Still, the continuous improvement of gun control legislation in our country is sorely needed.
Without ambiguity, it is relatively safe to state that reasonable gun control proposals that are consistent with Second Amendment rights should be considered by Congressional lawmakers. Recommended discussions and civil debates should focus, at a minimum, on the following legislative propositions to close existing loopholes:
· Extending background checks to all gun sales, including gun show sales. Currently, unlicensed sellers are permitted by law to sell firearms with no background check whatsoever. Thus, criminals can easily purchase firearms through the Internet, newspaper ad, gun show or flea market.
· Implementing a 1000-foot zone around federal officials in which no guns are allowed;
· Prohibiting known or suspected terrorists from buying or possessing firearms;
· Prohibiting criminals who have been convicted of certain violent misdemeanors from gun possession;
· Restricting high-volume handgun sales to reduce trafficking;
· Timely reporting of lost or stolen guns; and,
· Ban on assault weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines and armor-piercing bullets.
On the whole, overly prohibitive gun control laws may not be needed, but effective laws that make sense are certainly warranted. Currently, it is simply too easy for dangerous people to obtain dangerous weapons. The weak gun control laws that we have to date with all of the loopholes must be amended or replaced with reasonable laws and public policies that will protect our families and communities from senseless gun violence.
Anthony Jerrod is a bestselling author, speaker, and public policy expert.