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April 23, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

The importance of gun reform

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Justice Antonin Scalia is not a common advocate for federal oversight. However, he wrote, “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited” as to allow firearm possession by felons or the mentally ill.

Numerous polls have shown overwhelming support for common-sense gun violence prevention measures that would make our families safer and protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

As a mother, wife and citizen, I urge our nation’s leaders to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

I hope Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller will recognize the importance of requiring a mandatory criminal background check for every gun purchase and vote to pass meaningful gun reform.

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Previous Discussion: 16 comments so far…

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  1. "Criminal will never be subject to these background check laws they get their guns on the street"

    Right, and to keep weapons out of their hands you stop straw purchasers and runnners from buying in bulk and selling them. How? You register all weapons sold to who bought them.

    Precedent was set with the National Firearms Act of 1934 which did not destroy the 2nd Amendment as some believe.

    Good letter Sara, thank you.

  2. Justice Scalia is right on guns and the second amendment. The US and States have done a poor job with gun laws and gun culture. And we the people are paying a deadly price for it.

    Carmine D

  3. I agree with Carmine.

  4. I also agree with CarmineD, rare as it is.

  5. "As a mother, wife and citizen, I urge our nation's leaders to keep guns out of the hands of criminals."

    Lemma -- the problem is these kinds of controls also keep guns out of the hands of otherwise law-abiding people.

    "Precedent was set with the National Firearms Act of 1934 which did not destroy the 2nd Amendment as some believe."

    VernosB -- maybe not "destroy" but it certainly took a chunk out of it.

    "Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal." -- post-Civil War slogan found @ http://www.colt.com/ColtLawEnforcement/H...

  6. notacon, and why do you advocate " limit magazine size to something reasonable (7-10 rounds or so)"?

    All evidence from jurisdictions that have tried this in the past show that it does NOT result in a reduction in gun crime or gun deaths....so what result do you expect if it's enacted this time? What's the logic behind enacting a law that's been proven repeatedly to be utterly ineffective.

  7. So notacon, show me an example of a jurisdiction that has limited magazine capacity and seen a reduction in gun deaths as a result.

    Because the real world reality is that several countries have tried it....and it's never actually worked.

  8. notacon " I identified a situation where a criminal was stopped when reloading and I think military or police professional would tell you that's the best time to act to take down a perp, so why the problem with it?"

    Because you took that simple fact and made two irrational and unjustified assumptions from it.

    First you ASSUMED that had the shooter been using a larger capacity magazine that more people would have been shot or killed. Real world data shows that jurisdictions that have tried these limits have NOT seen any beneficial result.

    Second you ASSUMED that a law limiting magazine capacity would somehow prevent a criminal from obtaining a larger capacity magazine, despite all evidence from the real world showing that such bans do NOT reduce the supply available to criminals.

    So as you said "Let's be sensible". Let's not implement "feel good" measures that have been proven unsuccessful in the real world.

  9. Right up at the top, Future states that: "Criminal will never be subject to these background check laws they get their guns on the street

    Banning guns will not prevent criminals from getting them"

    First, background checks will slow the spread of guns on the street.

    Second it is impossible to prevent all criminals from getting guns, just as it is impossible to prevent all drivers from speeding. What we can and MUST do is to take steps that will slow the process. Consider this as a 20-80-20 deal. 20% of the population will never violate the law, regardless. Another 20% will never be hindered from trying to violate it, regardless. The balance, the 80%, will obey or violate depending upon the chances and penalties of being caught. What we CAN do is to raise the risks, and the penalties, to the point that most of that 80% will follow the law.

  10. The issue is whether private citizens should be able to own assault rifles, unlimited amounts of ammunition and 30-100 round clips. Owning of guns is not disputed.

    Even registering gun sales is being disputed: "What's the point of registering lawful gun owners?" Wayne LaPierre asked the crowd at CPAC today.

    LaPierre's solution is, that before purchasing any gun, the buyer with cash in had checks one of two boxes on the sales agreement:

    1. I am a lawful citizen.

    2. I am not a lawful citizen.

    If the second box is checked, the person will not be allowed to buy a gun. This is the Mr. Greenjeans method of making the world safe for democracy. This is the world of the NRA.

  11. "And President Clinton already got us an assault
    rifle ban that lasted until George Bush and the
    republican party did not re-new it."

    Wrong. Democrats didn't want to. President had both Houses: Pelosi and Reid for 2 years. Either could have reauthorized the Federal assault weapons ban, pushed through easily and President Obama sign. There was no evidence that the 10 year ban resulted in any decrease in homicides. Plain and simple. End of story. Exactly as the NRA, and La Pierre, had predicted when it went into effect.

    Carmine D

  12. People seize on Scalia's admonition that the right to arms, as are all others, is not unlimited. But they fail to understand what he means by that, because they believe that that particular statement, taken in isolation, supports their anti-gun agenda.

    It does not. It is well-established in American jurisprudence, and reflected in case law, that regarding fundamental rights only those laws that are narrow in scope, meet a compelling state interest, have a dead-certain likelihood to achieve their stated purposes, and are instituted in the least intrusive manner possible are constitutional. Only laws that do not materially curtail the right are permissible.

    U.S. v. Miller (1939) established that arms in common use that have some reasonable relationship to the efficiency of a militia are those protected under the right. D.C. v. Heller (2008) established that handguns in particular, meeting this two-pronged constitutional test, are specifically protected. Both of these cases are precedent, which means that THEY ARE THE LAW.

    A so-called "assault weapons" (sic) ban runs afoul of the Second Amendment because semiautomatic rifles and pistols meet both prongs of the Miller test, and are protected. By extension, any restriction that amounts to a de facto ban on their component parts and/or ammunition also runs afoul of the test.

    You can tug heartstrings all you want, but these are facts that you simply cannot get around.

    Face it, and move on. Frankly, we're tired of hearing it.

  13. "There was no evidence that the 10 year ban resulted in any decrease in homicides."

    CarmineD -- good point

    "People seize on Scalia's admonition that the right to arms, as are all others, is not unlimited. . . . ."

    Bhirsh -- a most excellent post

    "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." -- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac H Tiffany (1819)

  14. BHirsh (BARRY HIRSH): Ref your comment posted at 9:38 a.m. I suggest you read the actual decision handed down by the Supreme Court, which contains the comment "Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. . . " (Pp. 54--56".) AS for context: Immediately following that is "... the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional." The context clearly bans any attempt to restricban a militia-type weapon and to ban any attempt to render it, even temporarily unusable for self-defense.

    You also argue that "A so-called "assault weapons" (sic) ban runs afoul of the Second Amendment because semiautomatic rifles and pistols meet both prongs of the Miller test, and are protected. By extension, any restriction that amounts to a de facto ban on their component parts and/or ammunition also runs afoul of the test." That very same test applies to fully automatic hand-held weapons, to hand grenades, to grenade launchers, and other arms routinely used by the military. Are you seriously advocating that possession and use of these weapons must also be freely permitted? Do you want your next door neighbor carrying one? Firing it in the direction of your home in his perceived need for self defense? Just how much "self defense" does a hand grenade offer?

  15. renorobert - I have read the entire decision, many times.

    The U.S. v. Miller precedent forecloses fully automatic weapons, ordnance, etc. by stipulating that the protection applies only to arms IN COMMON USE. AR15's and the like are in common use. The holding also stipulates that the arms must have some reasonable relationship to the efficiency of a militia. AR15's and the like unquestionably meet this prong of the test as well.

    Heller didn't change any of that, it reinforced it. Scalia loosely analogized the "any weapons, anyplace at any time" and "dangerous or unusual weapons" language with carrying a head axe in public at high noon. While fully automatic weapons and ordnance may fit the bill for "dangerous or unusual", semiautomatic firearms and their components DO NOT.

    Please. The whole thing is rather straightforward.

  16. Another vote for keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, including ALL illegal invaders.