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GUN CONTROL

USRESIST NEWS Gun Control Briefs cover emerging gun control policies at the federal and state level, as well as efforts made by corporations, students and other third parties to address gun violence.

Latest Gun Control Posts

 

Student Organizers Take Control of the Gun Control Debate: National Student Walkout and the March for Our Lives

Brief # 3 Gun Control 

Summary

On February 14, 2018 a gunman shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, Florida. According to CNN, within the first 12 weeks of 2018 there have been an average of 1.4 school shootings a week, which comes out to 17 school shootings where someone has been hurt or killed. Since the shooting on February 14, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have launched the #neveragain movement. The group of around twenty students from MSD was initially founded by Cameron Kasky, Alex Wind and Sofie Whitney the day after the shooting, they were later joined by fellow students Alfonso Calderon, Sarah Chadwick, Jaclyn Corin, Emma González, and David Hogg among others.

Analysis

The #neveragain movement organized by MSD students has featured two major events in the past few weeks. A month after the shooting in Parkland, the MSD students started a global initiative: the National Student Walkout. At 10 a.m. on March 14, students across the country walked out of school for 17 minutes to honor those who lost their lives during the school shooting. Walkouts happened in elementary, middle and high schools throughout the country including in Columbine, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut. Kaylee Tyner, a student at Columbine High School who participated in the walkout, told the New York Times, “We have grown up watching more tragedies occur and continuously asking: Why?” While some schools and administrations were supportive of the walkout, there were also schools that told students if they walked out they would be facing disciplinary action. According to Youth EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March, over 3,000 walkouts took place around the country with over 1 million students participating.

The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas also organized the March for Our Lives, a national movement on March 24, 2018. The march, originally organized for D.C., had over 800 sister marches planned worldwide. Their demands:

  • Fund gun violence research
  • Eliminate restrictions on the ATF
  • Universal background checks
  • High-capacity magazine ban
  • Limit firing power on the streets

Politicians were not asked to speak at the marches, rather they were student organized and led. In D.C. MSD student, Emma Gonzalez had a particularly powerful impact on the crowd, standing on stage for 6 minutes and 20 seconds, the majority of the time in silence. She said, “Six minutes and about 20 seconds. In a little over 6 minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us, 15 were injured and everyone in the Douglas community was forever altered. Everyone who was there understands. Everyone who has been touched by the cold grip of gun violence understands. For us, long, tearful, chaotic hours in the scorching afternoon sun were spent not knowing. No one understood the extent of what had happened.” Many activists also noted the intersectionality of this march by including and elevating people of color and their stories. Jaclyn Corin, one of the MSD student organizers addressed this directly in her speech saying, “We recognize that Parkland received more attention because of its affluence. But we share this stage today and forever with those communities who have always stared down the barrel of a gun.” Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old girl, also took the stage in D.C., to say never again for black females. “My friends and I might still be 11 and we might still be in elementary school, but we know. We know life isn’t equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong.”

In the US it is estimated 1.2 million people marched around the country. At the march in D.C. estimates range from 200,000 to 800,000 people. In Boston it is estimated between 50,000-100,000 people participated in the march and rally on the Boston Commons. In New York City around 200,000 people marched through the streets. In Los Angeles it is estimated around 55,000 people attended the March for Our Lives rally. And, in Parkland, Florida, approximately 20,000 people marched. Another student walkout is being planned for April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

In response to the Parkland shooting and the rise of the MSD student activists, the NRA has received an outpouring of monetary support from their supporters. Contributions to the NRA’s Political Victory Fund which funds candidates supportive of the NRA tripled during the month of February. Additionally, after the shooting, the NRA increased their Facebook ad spending from $11,300 to $47,300. Their ads included messaging such as, “Never in our lives have we seen more dangerous and reckless attacks from those who despise our freedoms.”

Now, the student organizers are turning their attention to the November midterm elections. Furthering the original goals of the march, nearly 4,800 people were registered to vote, which is in line with their next mission—Vote for Our Lives. David Hogg, another of the MSD student activists has said, “To those politicians supported by the NRA that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say get your resumes ready.”

Engagement Resources

March for Our Lives—Their mission is “Not one more.” Follow their website as they turn movement from the March into further action.

Sandy Hook Promise—An organization created by the parents of Sandy Hook students to build a national movement to deliver gun violence prevention programs and mobilize for the passage of sensible state and national policy.

Everytown—A movement of Americans working to end gun violence and build safer communities.

This brief was compiled by Rebecca Leclerc. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact, rebecca@usresistnews.org.

 

Mental Health and Gun Violence: Rhetoric or Necessary Policy?

Brief 33

Policy Summary:

There are many legislation proposals that are suggesting further limitations placed on those that are mentally ill and their access to guns. However, there are several loopholes which allow those with documented mental illnesses to purchase weapons. There have been recent movements to help block these loopholes. This includes further specifying the broad mental health categories which allow differentiation between commitments to outpatient treatment or guardian care, blocking access to purchasing guns from private sellers (e.g. buying at gun shows), and increasing accessibility to medical records which show possible violent behavior. Trump has also paved the way for open access to guns for as many Americans as possible, even those with a mental illness. Policy suggestions on both sides of the aisle have attempted to limit this access through closing some of the loopholes that exist for those that have documented mental illness. The problem of this lies not in the mental health policies around gun control, but in the presence of guns themselves.

LEARN MORE

Analysis:

The common strategy for conservatives to use to get out of applying common sense gun reform is blaming the problem of rampant US gun violence on solely the poor mental health of the active shooters. This is also actually working to convince most Americans that the gun violence problem is rooted not in access to guns, but the taboo of mental illness. The American Psychiatric Association has proven that there has been little research claiming a correlation between gun violence and mental illness. Limiting access to weapons for those with documented mental illness has been shown to reduce gun violence, but it’s not the main catalyst. There have been strong correlations to instances of bullying, but there hasn’t been significant connections between mental illness and gun violence in mass shootings. Ultimately, the broader question around mental illness and gun violence lies in access. Current legislation doesn’t limit the access of those without a documented mental illness or general public access to military style assault rifles. Common sense gun reform has often included background checks, but what’s the point if the buyer doesn’t have indicators of a violent history or if a buyer finds a military assault rifle at a gun show? This has been the central issue with gun control advocates: limiting access to more dangerous weapons for everyone, not just those with a mental illness.

LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources:

March for Our Lives- an organization started after the Parkland school shooting which aims to unify advocates for gun control around relevant issues. Consider donating or canvassing during the midterm elections on these issues with this organization.

Alliance for Gun Responsibility Foundation– Learn about how this organization is aiming to destigmatize the association between gun violence and mental illness. Consider donating or attending a conference if possible.

As always, contact your state’s elected officials and voice your concerns or support.

This Brief was compiled by Sophia Adams. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this Brief please contact sophia@usresistnews.org.

 

 

Gun Restrictions; Will Banning Bump Stocks Be Enough?; National Protest Action; March 23, 2018

Policy Summary: On March 23, 2018, the United States Department of Justice proposed a new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regulation that would effectively ban “bump stocks.” Bump stocks are add on gun components that when attached to a semi – automatic gun permits the weapon to harness the gun’s recoil energy after firing one shot or one pull of the gun’s trigger. The recoil energy is then used to facilitate the non – stop firing of the semi – automatic weapon with the aforementioned single trigger pull. The bump stock is attached to the rear of the weapon and when attached does not modify a gun’s internal components. The bump stock allows the weapon to fire more bullets at a faster rate without requiring a second or subsequent pull of the trigger by a shooter. LEARN MORE

Analysis: The announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the new regulation banning bump stocks is likely to be greeted with plenty of enthusiasm. The controversial device was not used in the Parkland, Florida shooting. However, it was used by Stephen Paddock to kill fifty – eight people at a concert in Las Vegas, Nevada in October of 2017. The device allowed him to shoot numerous rounds rapidly akin to using a fully automatic weapon, also known as a machine gun. According to this report, the use of a bump stock allowed Stephen Paddock to shoot ten rounds a second at a concert containing more than 20,000 people. While taking the step to ban these devices that increase the ability to fire more bullets in a shorter time span, the remaining question is whether this ban will reduce the epidemic of mass shootings in America.

Banning bump stocks can help reduce the high numbers of casualties at these mass shootings but it still does not get to the root problem of why mass shootings keep occurring. The shooter in Parkland, Florida was able to kill seventeen people in just under seven minutes without adding a bump stock add on to his weapon. The Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooter also was reported to not have used the bump stock device when he killed twelve people in less than ten minutes. President Trump and Jeff Sessions have made a wise decision to ban these devices in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida shooting but the reality is that bump stocks are not the only problem. America is going to have look past bump stocks and take a look at the bigger picture (mental health, availability of guns, age limits, etc.) to enact comprehensive and common sense gun restriction laws. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources:

Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence – non – profit group advocating an end to gun violence.

Every Town For Gun Safety – non – profit group looking to end gun violence and build safer communities.

Coalition To Stop Gun Violence – coalition group on issues of guns in America.

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Rod@USResistnews.org.

Florida Passes Gun Control Bill Following Stoneman Douglas Shooting, Opposing NRA

Summary

On Wednesday, March 7, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) signed a new bill into law tightening gun restrictions and increasing school safety measures in the state of Florida following the Parkland school shooting on February 14 that left 14 students and 3 faculty members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School dead. While these restrictions have received criticism from the likes of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and conservative lawmakers, Governor Scott, who himself was previously graded an A+ legislator by the NRA, signed this bi-partisan bill into law so that students will feel safe at school, and so that parents do not have to worry about the safety of their children at school.

Provisions in the legislation that NRA and gun enthusiasts most strongly oppose include raising the minimum age for legal purchase of a firearm to 21, implementing a three-day waiting period for firearm purchases (most, but not all), and completely making illegal the purchase of bump stocks, an assault weapon accessory that rose to national consciousness following the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting.

Amongst the more controversial of provisions (viewed more favorably by the right) of the bill allows for the arming of certain school employees, namely librarians, guidance counselors, and athletic coaches, according to the New York Times. This provision of the bill in particular was a bi-partisan effort, as many Republican legislators in Florida felt that all school employees, teachers included, should be armed with the notion that this would increase school safety. Governor Scott opposes the idea that teachers should be armed, but was willing to allow for the arming of the aforementioned personnel.

Analysis

On one hand, the signing of this bill is a major victory for gun control advocates. Shooting after shooting, actions like the ones taken in the new Florida bill are called for by victims, community members, and advocates, However such pleas often fall upon deaf ears because many lawmakers at all levels of government are puppets of the NRA. Because of the response led by students at Stoneman Douglas, however, this shooting feels different, and the results thus far are certainly different. Governor Scott’s endorsement and signature on the bill demonstrates that even lawmakers most lauded by the NRA are willing to change course when the interest of constituents and public safety is finally deemed more valuable than the NRA’s dollars. This gives hope to gun safety advocates that demands will actually be met, and that victims won’t become another statistic in the unfathomable number schema that represents gun violence in the United States.

On the other hand, there are certain measures that were not taken up by the new Florida bill that signify the long road ahead for gun safety advocates. First, AR-15s can still be legally purchased in the state. This is the weapon that shooter Nicholas Cruz used to massacre 17 and injure dozens more at Stoneman Douglas; it is a military-grade weapon that simply does not belong in the hands of civilians, let alone on school grounds. There is seemingly no reason as to why this kind of weapon is legal for purchase following the Stoneman Douglas shooting. Furthermore, the bill does nothing by way of strengthening background checks in the state, a major flaw in the sale of guns in this country that continues to put lethal weapons in the hands of mentally unstable individuals, like Cruz. While the passage of the bill calls for celebration, it is just one incremental step in the fight for common sense gun legislation, and the fight cannot stop here.

Engagement Resources

Take a Stand With March For Our Lives: March For Our Lives is a grassroots organization mobilized by the students, victims, and community members directly impacted by the Parkland shooting. On March 24, cities across the country will walk in support of gun control and in solidarity with the victims of Parkland to make sure that another incident like the one in Parkland never happens again. To learn more about a march near you or to donate to the organization, click on the link above.

Stay in the Know With EFSGV: The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV) is a D.C.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that makes communities safer by translating research into policy. EFSGV does this through policy development, advocacy, community stakeholder engagement, and technical assistance. The organization is affiliated with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that serves as the advocating arm of EFSGV, working directly with members of Congress to pass common sense gun laws at the federal level. Stay up to date with the latest news on gun reform and research with EFSGV and CSGV by signing up for email alerts through clicking the first link above.

Support Everytown For Gun Safety: Everytown For Gun Safety is at the forefront of ending gun violence in all of its forms across the United States. As the largest gun violence prevention organization in the United States, Everytown consists of 4.5 million supporters working to change laws and lives by advocating for common sense gun legislation. You can support Everytown here, and learn more about its initiatives here.

Will Raising Minimum Age To Purchase Guns to Twenty – One Make A Difference?

National Protest Action
February 28, 2018

Summary

On February 14, 2018, a school shooter opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and killed seventeen people. The accused gunman, nineteen – year old Nikolas Cruz, was taken into custody and is awaiting trial. After the shooting numerous companies took action to distance themselves from and reduce business ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA), a non – profit group that is seen as an obstacle to enacting gun restriction legislation. While most companies eliminated discounts and benefits available to NRA members, the retail stores Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that they were raising the age limit to purchase guns from their stores from eighteen to twenty – one. Dick’s Sporting Goods also announced that they would no longer sell high capacity magazines at all. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Analysis

The actions taken by Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods are admirable steps to combat the number of school shootings in America. But raising the age limit to twenty-one to purchase a gun from their stores does not completely address the issue. An editorial in the Richmond Times Dispatch on March 3, 2018 calculated that the average age of a spree killer in America was thirty – five years. In the October 1, 2017 shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada the shooter Stephen Paddock was a sixty-four year old man and reportedly owned more than forty guns. The shooter in the Orlando nightclub shooting was a twenty-nine year old Afghani man. And in the Sandy Hook school shooting, Adam Lanza was a twenty – year old but had easy access to weapons because of his mother who was described as a “gun enthusiast.” Having the minimum age to purchase a gun would not have applied to these shooters except Adam Lanza although he still had easy access to weapons because of his mother.

Would raising the age limit to purchase guns really have an effect on reducing mass shootings? Schools are not the only places that have had to deal with gun violence. There have been incidents at concerts, a movie theater, military bases and even at an outdoor Congresswoman event in Arizona. The ages of these shooters are outside the range of eighteen to twenty-one years old. While the actions of Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods is a step in the right direction, what is needed to combat these incidents is to not merely place restrictions within a certain age range but to look at all of these incidents together and look for more common threads than age and location of the shooting. The epidemic of mass shootings in America have not been isolated only to schools and the shooters have not always been under the age of twenty-one. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact rod@usresistnews.org.


 

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Companies Distance Themselves From National Rifle Association (NRA) In Wake of Shooting at Parkland Florida High School

National Protest Action
February 26, 2018

Summary

On February 14, 2018, seventeen students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida were killed when a shooter opened fire at the school. In the aftermath of the tragedy, a debate on gun control in the United States emerged with arguments for more gun control and restrictions and arguments that opposed many of those proposals. The National Rifle Association (NRA), which bills itself as a civil rights organization that strives to protect the Second Amendment, were accused of trying to undermine legislative proposals that could be implemented to reduce incidents of school and mass shootings in America. In response to a perceived inability to influence state and federal legislators to enact more restrictive gun laws because of the political influence of the NRA, numerous companies decided to distance themselves and reduce their business associations with the NRA. LEARN MORE

Analysis

In recent years, the United States has experienced an increasing number of fatal shootings with numerous fatalities at places of learning and in the workplace. In the aftermath of these tragic shootings, there have been discussions on what can be done to prevent incidents in the future but nothing of substance has been implemented at the federal or state level. The NRA has traditionally been at the forefront of opposing gun restriction legislation and has been very effective at influencing politicians. The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School appears to be different because of events that have transpired that did not occur after other shootings in years past. Likely because of a CNN town hall meeting video of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) meeting with school survivors, most of America saw the anger in the students about why nothing was being done. And in a surprising move, numerous companies decided to cut ties with the NRA because of the perceived influence they have in defeating gun restriction legislation. At last count, twenty-four companies have decided to cut ties or reduce business associations with the NRA after the shooting in Parkland, Florida. There have been four medical services companies that have reduced business ties. Six travel service companies, including two airline carriers and a number of car rental companies, have followed suit. In addition, two banks and four companies in the insurance industry, some of whom provided gun insurance to NRA members, have also announced they will discontinue benefits to NRA members. (See the specific list of companies in Engagement Resources below).

This is remarkable because these types of incidents did not happen after mass shootings in years past. What has been put on display is the anger of high school students and citizens and companies who are simply fed up with the lack of progress at the state and federal level to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. The hope is that America has now finally turned the corner. It remains to be seen what will happen but with companies now willing to distance themselves from the NRA and an upcoming student protest march planned for later in March that a more open and honest dialogue about gun control can occur without the discussion being twisted and manipulated by the interests of the NRA. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources

  • March For Our Lives – online petition and webpage for info on March 24, 2018 march to end gun violence and school shootings in America today. Started by survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
  • Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence – non – profit group advocating an end to gun violence.
  • Every Town For Gun Safety – non – profit group looking to end gun violence and build safer communities.
  • Coalition To Stop Gun Violence – coalition group on issues of guns in America.
  • Listing of Companies That Have Reduced Business Ties With the NRA – sorted by category:
    • Health Services Companies: MetLife, Teledoc, Starkey Hearing Technologies and    Paramount RX
    • Insurance Companies: Chubb, Securian Financial Group, MetLife and Lockton
    • Banks: First National Bank of Omaha and Republic Bank
    • Travel Services: Enterprise, Hertz, Allied Van Lines, North American Van Lines, Avis,           Budget, TrueCar, Delta Airlines and United Airlines
    • Software: Symantec and Lifelock

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact rod@usresistnews.org.


 

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