While North Carolina’s GOP-run legislature moves to loosen state gun restrictions — including relaxing prohibitions on guns in education facilities — a new poll of state voters finds little support for their proposal.
When asked whether they “support or oppose a bill that would allow guns on all educational properties and that would eliminate the requirement for permits for handguns,” a decisive 66 percent of NC voters told PPP they opposed the idea. Just 21 percent said they supported the idea.
Even among those voters who indicated that they’d voted for Mitt Romney in last year’s presidential election, just 32 percent backed the bill and 51 percent opposed it.
Campus administrators have objected to the proposal, as have campus police chiefs. The National Rifle Association backs the bill, which has been endorsed by both the North Carolina House and Senate, mostly along party lines.
Hadiya Pendleton's family grieves after she was shot and killed in January. Credit: AP
Chicago saw 46 people shot the weekend following the six-month anniversary of the Newtown shooting, which happened to coincide with Father’s Day weekend. During one of the bloodiest weekends of the year, Chicago Tribune reports that seven people were killed, with the youngest victim being a 15-year-old boy shot dead by police.
While mass shootings are more likely to attract the headlines — by ThinkProgress’ count there have been 14 since December — everyday gun violence in the U.S. adds up to a Newtown every single day (Slate counts more than 5,000 gun deaths since December).
Gun advocates tend to use Chicago to argue that gun violence laws are not effective. Chicago has some of the strictest laws in the nation — it had a ban on handguns until 2010 — but the city has long suffered from violence that is on an uptick the past two years. The total number of weekend’s shootings is actually slightly down compared to the same period last year, when 53 had been shot.
But as a city, Chicago is not isolated from areas with noticeably laxer laws. It is part of a state that has weaker gun violence laws, where a full 43 percent of the guns seized from Chicago crime come from. The rest of the seized guns were trafficked from other states not typically known for their gun violence prevention. Just in May, a convicted felon shot a man by arranging for someone to buy his hangdgun from a strip mall 40 miles away. Loopholes in federal law leave areas with strict gun laws more vulnerable to these straw purchases.
President Obama made a plea for federal law to catch up in February, before the Senate filibustered the most serious congressional attempt to address gun violence.
Defying 87 percent of the state’s voters, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) vetoed a universal background check bill for gun purchases on Thursday — one day before the six-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
The bill, passed by Nevada’s Democratically controlled state legislature, would have required a background check prior to all gun sales and would have increased reporting of mental illness data. The National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm called the proposal “misguided gun control legislation being forced on law-abiding citizens of Nevada.”
But far from being forced upon the people, the state legislature was acting on their clear will. An April poll found 87 percent of Nevada voters think a background check should be required on all gun sales — including 75 percent of Nevadans who said that “strongly favor” such a law. Just nine percent of Nevadans strongly opposed the idea. A February poll had shown 86 percent support in Nevada for universal background checks. After voting against the Manchin-Toomey background check compromise in the U.S. Senate, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R) was one of several opponents to see their approval ratings drop.
But Sandoval said his decision was in part due to the loud voices of that small minority that does not believe criminal background checks should be required prior to gun purchases. He told a local TV station that he’d received 28,000 calls from opponents, and only about 7,000 from supporters. While indicating support for the mental health data reporting provisions, he wrote in his veto message that requiring an instant background check would have been “an erosion of Nevadans’ Second Amendment Rights under the United States Constitution” that might “subject otherwise law-abiding citizens to criminal prosecution.”
Sandoval’s veto came on the of the six-month anniversary of the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. At the time, he released a statement lamenting the shootings and ordering that the state’s flags be flown at half-staff in memory of the victims.
WASHINGTON, DC — Most of the country will mark the six-month anniversary of Newtown by reading an article or two about the tragedy and, perhaps, taking a moment of reflection on how we as a society allowed it to happen. Not Sarah Clements.
Clements, a junior at Newtown High School, was in class down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14 when word spread that something terrible was unfolding. Her mom taught at Sandy Hook, just down the hall to the right of the entrance where Adam Lanza busted through. “He came in and turned left, but if he had turned right…” Clements recounted before trailing off.
There are moments that stuck out to her since. Reuniting with her family that day. The mob of parents in the Sandy Hook parking lot, many of whom wouldn’t get the same opportunity. Her principal crying at the first assembly following the shooting. Comfort dogs that had been brought in from Illinois.
But what’s helped her the most, Clements said, was when she decided in late January to form the Junior Newtown Action Alliance, a group of young people from the area who advocate for stronger gun laws. They’ve organized letter-writing campaigns in the community and made a slew of media appearances to explain why ending gun violence is a youth issue as well.
The group was in D.C. this week for the six-month mark of the tragedy, meeting with lawmakers and their staff on Capitol Hill. After meeting with the staff of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), as well as Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) herself, they sat down with ThinkProgress to tell their story.
Watch a highlight from that interview with Clements (left) and another member of the group, Kyra Murray:
Murray later summed up why they are taking time to travel the country in an attempt to strengthen our nation’s gun laws: “I don’t want more towns on the map like Newtown, or like Aurora, or Columbine, or Tucson.”
The U.S. has averaged over one mass shooting per month for the past four years. In the six months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT, this trend has not relented. ThinkProgress analyzed all gun violence since December 14, 2012 and determined that there have been about 14 mass shootings.
These shootings tell a story that is now all-too-familiar to Americans. The gunman usually started by killing his family or significant other. Often, he had a history of anger or depression. And many of these killers should have been disqualified from buying a gun, whether because of their age, a criminal record, restraining order, or hospitalization.
Mass shootings, which ThinkProgress defined for this purpose as random gun-related incidents, usually in a public area and resulting in either multiple injuries or death, are still only a fraction of the gun violence that plagues Americans all over the country every day. On May 31, the number of people killed by guns since Newtown surpassed the number of American troops killed during the entire Iraq War. As of today, an average of 28 people have been shot to death every day since Newtown.
The 14 shootings since Newtown killed a total of 45 people, not including the perpetrators. Each death has transformed the lives of countless others who knew and loved the victims.
Besides the shootings mapped above, there were several incidents this year that came close to turning into bloodbaths but were thankfully averted. In March, a Florida college student pulled a dorm fire alarm to bring students out into the hallway so he could slaughter them with his arsenal of guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. He ultimately decided to kill himself instead. At Chelsea Middle School in Alabama, a crazed former employee took several middle school girls hostage in the locker room at gunpoint. Thankfully, he was apprehended before he could hurt anyone, preventing Chelsea from becoming the next Sandy Hook.
Santa Monica shooter John Zawahri (Credit: Santa Monica Police Department)
New details have emerged about the mental health record of John Zawahri, the gunman who killed five and wounded several others in Santa Monica last week, raising questions about how he was able to obtain the arsenal of military-style weapons used in the massacre. The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified school district confirmed Wednesday that Zawahri was removed from his continuation high school for posing a threat of violence to other students.
Zawahri originally attended Santa Monica High School, but was sent to Olympic High, a school for kids with academic or disciplinary issues. At Olympic, it was common knowledge among the students that Zawahri often browsed for assault weapons online. Family friends said he “had a fascination with guns.” In 2006, one student told an English teacher that Zawahri had invited him to his house, showed him his samurai sword and listed students he wanted to hurt. The teacher reported it to the principal, and soon law enforcement got involved. Police searched his house, but it is not clear if they found any weapons. Zawahri was also apparently watching YouTube videos on how to make pipe bombs and other explosives.
Despite this record, Zawahri was somehow able to obtain a semiautomatic AR-15 assault rifle, 40 high-capacity magazines, and at least 1,300 rounds of ammunition. After a person is institutionalized for a psychiatric exam, they are banned from possessing firearms for five years — which would have let Zawahri get weapons after 2011.
Police are still tracing Zawahri’s weapons to try to determine how exactly he was able to stockpile so much ammo. One gun, a black powder handgun, is thought to be a “curio or relic type” of weapon that may have been in the family for years. The AR-15 assault rifle may have been banned for sale under California law.
Mental health has been a central issue of the gun debate, after multiple mass shooters showed warning signs of violence and instability yet were still able to get guns and wreak havoc. After Seung-Hui Choi, who had been declared a danger to himself or others, killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007, Congress passed a law meant to improve reporting of people who had been involuntarily committed for background checks. However, the National Rifle Association managed to insert provisions that actually made it easier for people with mental illness records to get their gun rights restored.
Yet even if the background check system had been effective in stopping institutionalized violent individuals from buying guns from federally licensed dealers, Zawahri could have dodged a background check by buying his arsenal online or at a gun show without detection.
By Arkadi Gerney, Guest Blogger on Jun 11, 2013 at 3:45 pm
ATF Director Nominee B. Todd Jones (Credit: Associated Press)
August 8, 2006 was an unremarkable, slow-news day in Washington. A high of 90, but not especially humid. President Bush had left town a few days earlier for his Crawford ranch – and Congress had split for its August recess even before that. The Nationals were mired in last place in the National League East. And, Talladega Nights: the Legend of Ricky Bobby had just overtaken Miami Vice as the top box office draw.
It was also the last day the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the agency charged with enforcing the nation’s gun laws, had a Director.
In the 2,499 days since Carl Truscott left his leadership post at ATF, a lot has happened:
A succession of interim and acting directors have followed – Edgar Domenech, Michael Sullivan, Ronnie Carter, Kenneth Melson, and B. Todd Jones (the current acting director and nominee to be full-time Director).
The “Fast and Furious” scandal broke in 2011 around a botched gun trafficking investigation in which ATF lost track of over 1000 firearms destined for the Mexican cartels. (The Department of Justice’s Inspector General found that leadership and oversight of the operation at ATF headquarters was “seriously deficient.”)
ATF agents Kimberly Place and John Francis Capano were killed in the line of duty.
Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown.
More than 80,000 Americans have been murdered with guns.
Why has the ATF not had a leader for almost seven years? By design.
As part of the reorganization of law enforcement agencies pursuant to the Homeland Security Act, ATF was moved from the Department of Treasury to the Department of Justice. Also in the Act was a little-noticed provision that would mean, going forward, the ATF Director position would require Senate confirmation. While adding a requirement for Senate confirmation for an agency head may sound like a “step up,” in ATF’s case, it has allowed a minority of gun-lobby-friendly Senators to use filibusters and other blocking tactics to prevent ATF from having a leader.
Today, B. Todd Jones, a United States Attorney and Marine Corps veteran, is finally getting a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on his nomination to be ATF Director.
Perhaps his principal antagonist will be the ranking Republican on the committee, Senator Charles Grassley. Over the last two years, Grassley has lead the Senate’s investigations of Fast and Furious and complained repeatedly that the operation displayed a “passive leadership,” “poor management,” leadership “failures” – and yet no one has done more than Senator Grassley to ensure that the agency continues to operate without a leader.
Arkadi Gerney is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.
This four-minute ad follows a young woman as she returns to her home, where she is alone (and scantily-clad, of course). As her door rattles, she is left looking vulnerable and scared – until she picks up her gun and disposes of the grisly predator with sheer force of fear. Glock’s message promotes the age-old argumentthat gunsstop rape, painting women as helpless victims until they have firearms at their side. Smaller outfits than Glock have used the same concept in their advertising.
3. “Which would protect her health best?”
Beyond being another example of the guns-stop-rape meme, this ad implores parents to make sure their daughters are armed. A cell phone and a pink-wrapped condom sit beside the gun, pitting contraception as weak. It also perpetuates the idea that all rape is committed by masked strangers in alleyways, ignoring the prevalence of acquaintance rape.
4. Open Range Sports targets bachelor parties
In another example of exploitative imagery, Open Range Sports uses a pregnant woman dressed in lingerie in a bridal veil to remind men that they should get their shooting out of the way before their weddings. This bizarre ad is part of a larger “Shotgun Wedding” campaign advertising bachelor and bachelorette parties hosted at gun ranges.
5. POF-USA tell us assault rifles are sexy
The Patriot Ordinance Factory’s ad uses the iconically sexist mudflap girl silhouette, with the company’s flagship assault rifle emerging from her breasts. The imagery crudely sexualizes assault weapons, perpetuating the concept of a violent, bigoted masculinity.
6. Bushmaster wants to reissue your “man card”
Sexism in gun ads doesn’t just emerge from misappropriating sexual violence or using exploitative imagery of women. Bushmaster’s extensive “man card” campaign is an example of how gun advertising casually taps into a conception of violent masculinity. The campaign, which used to have an entire section of the Bushmaster website devoted to it, allows you to test your manliness and revoke others’ man cards. It tops off with a poster of an assault rifle, the possession of which allows you to “consider your man card reissued.”
7. Daisy Rifles will help with your son’s manliness
This Daisy Air Rifles ad is targeted primarily at mothers, and promises that “millions of clean-cut, alert American boys” grew up on their product, developing “character and manliness.” By attaching a concept of gun ownership to “manliness” and hammering home the idea that boys develop “strength” through shooting, ads like this one perpetuate the social norm that guns and violence are integral to masculinity.
Kyle Coplen, founder of the Armed Citizen Project. Credit: New York Daily News
The Armed Citizen Project recently began handing out free shotguns to 50 residents of a Houston, Texas neighborhood. Like the name suggests, the group wants a maximum number of armed residents in cities with higher crime rates, once applicants complete a firearms course and background check. Founder Kyle Coplen’s goal is to spread to 15 cities, although a gun giveaway is already underway in Tucson, Arizona — the site of a mass shooting two years ago.
Beyond encouraging residents with minimal training to fight crime themselves, Coplen wants to provide guns specifically for “vulnerable women.” The Armed Citizen Project website says this is, “Fighting the war on women, one free shotgun at a time.”
Women are an increasingly important consumer base to gun manufacturers and the NRA, a trend visible in the rise of typically exploitive, sexist marketing. But the real effect guns have on women’s security is exactly the reverse. A gun in the home often risks accidental deaths or suicide attempts, while it is also invariably more dangerous to women in abusive relationships. Women are not safer with guns, despite the NRA and allies’ insistence that gun violence prevention is anti-feminist.
Coplen hopes to eventually use his initiative as a type of field experiment that proves that guns have a “deterrent effect” on crime. However, the best research out there shows that the number of guns and gun deaths go hand-in-hand.