Category Archives: Gun control

The Virginia Beach shooting confirms that gun violence is a national emergency

By Editorial Board, The Washington Post, June 1 at 2:45 PM

The Virginia Beach shooting confirms that gun violence is a national emergency

Mourners pray on Saturday for the victims of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach. (Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images)

THE TWELVE victims killed in the Virginia Beach massacre were the people who knit the sinews of a society together, who plot the course of overhead wires and underground pipes, who set the course of roadways and sidewalks. They were municipal engineers and administrators, account clerks and agents, all of them making sure in some way or another that the essential connections and pathways everyone relies on would keep functioning. One of the victims had come simply to follow the rules, and file for a permit.

MassShootingTracker.org

That they were murdered in cold blood at their workplace on Friday afternoon is another sign that our society is not functioning properly in the face of an awful scourge. Mass shootings at schools, newspapers, concerts, nightclubs and factories have become a threat to public health and safety in the United States, an epidemic of violence resulting in hundreds of deaths every year. Would the nation’s politicians be mute and paralyzed if, say, 199 people were killed by food poisoning, a defective toy, or an automobile part malfunction? That is the number who have died in mass shootings so far this year (along with 643 nonfatal gunshot wounds), according to one group that keeps track. Sadly, sensible gun control generates headlines for a few days after each massacre, but then nothing happens.

The reason for this inaction is no mystery: Politicians are intimidated by a gun rights movement, led by the National Rifle Association, that has for too long stood in the way of action. There are promising signs that this year’s crowded field for the Democratic presidential nomination might generate some long-overdue commitment to gun control, and some Democrats in Congress are devoting fresh attention to the crisis, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has suggested is a national emergency. But the hour is late. The answers are not rocket science: universal background checks for gun purchases; banning semiautomatic assault rifles, which are weapons of war; putting limits on high-capacity magazines, which allow mass shooters to take more and more lives (these magazines were used by the Virginia Beach shooter) and other measures.

The authorities in Virginia Beach announced they would say the shooter’s name only once. No doubt, many mass shooters may have been motivated by the perverse attraction of media notoriety, and so it will be interesting to see if this well-intentioned move has any impact, given today’s relentless and intense news and social media environment.

But something greater must be done. The Virginia Beach shooter put a sound suppressor on his .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol so that the death shots were muffled, perhaps denying others the warning that would have allowed them to escape. It is long past time to remove the silencer that seems to suppress action on gun-control legislation, to treat mass shooting as the epidemic it is, and do everything possible to save lives.

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    Supreme Court Refuses to Block ‘Bump Stock’ Ban Over Thomas and Gorsuch’s Dissent

    Repost from Reuters

    U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bid to block Trump’s gun ‘bump stock’ ban

    By Lawrence Hurley, MARCH 28, 2019 / 9:15 AM

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday handed President Donald Trump a victory by rejecting for the second time in three days a bid by gun rights activists to block his new ban on “bump stock” attachments that enable semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly.

    FILE PHOTO: A bump fire stock, (R), that attaches to a semi-automatic rifle to increase the firing rate is seen at Good Guys Gun Shop in Orem, Utah, U.S., October 4, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo

    The policy, embraced by Trump in the wake of an October 2017 massacre in Las Vegas in which bump stocks were used, went into effect on Tuesday. The ban is a rare recent instance of gun control at the federal level in a country that has experienced a succession of mass shootings.

    The court in a brief order refused to grant a temporary stay sought by the group Gun Owners of America and others in a lawsuit filed in Michigan challenging the ban while litigation continues. Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday rejected a similar bid to block the policy in a separate legal challenge brought in Washington by individual gun owners and gun rights groups including the Firearms Policy Foundation and Florida Carry Inc.

    Michael Hammond, Gun Owners of America’s legislative counsel, said many owners of the estimated 500,000 bump stocks in the United States would refuse to turn them in despite the ban and related criminal penalties. People caught in possession of bump stocks could face up to 10 years in prison under the policy.

    “GOA will continue to fight the issue in the court system, as the case now returns to the lower courts. We remain convinced that the courts will consign this unlawful, unconstitutional ban to the trash bin of history, where it belongs,” Hammond said in a statement, using the group’s acronym.

    A Justice Department spokeswoman said the administration was pleased with the high court’s action.

    Bump stocks use a gun’s recoil to bump its trigger, enabling a semiautomatic weapon to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, which can transform it into a machine gun. The Justice Department’s regulation followed the lead of many states and retailers that imposed stricter limits on sales of guns and accessories after a deadly shooting at a Florida high school in February 2018.

    LAS VEGAS SHOOTING

    Trump pledged to ban bump stocks soon after a gunman used them in a spree that killed 58 people at a country music festival in Las Vegas. The Justice Department on Dec. 18 announced plans to implement the policy on March 26.

    The FBI said in January it had found no clear motive for the 64-year-old Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

    In the Michigan case, a federal judge already has ruled in favor of the administration. The Cincinnati, Ohio-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to put the ban on hold pending appeal. Other plaintiffs in that case include the Gun Owners Foundation, the Virginia Citizens Defense League and three individual gun owners.

    In the Washington case, a federal judge also upheld the ban, prompting the gun rights advocates to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That court has heard oral arguments but has not yet ruled.

    Those challenging the policy have argued that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) lacks the authority to equate bump stocks with machine guns. One of the laws at the center of the legal dispute was written more than 80 years ago, when Congress restricted access to machine guns during the heyday of American gangsters’ use of “tommy guns.”

    Trump’s fellow Republicans typically oppose gun control measures and favor of a broad interpretation of the right to bear arms promised in the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. In 2017, there were 39,773 gun deaths in the United States, according to the most recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures released in December.

    Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham
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      Bump Stock Ban now official nationwide – Supreme Court

      Repost from NPR News
      [See also the New York Times report.]

      Bump Stock Ban Proceeds After Supreme Court Denies Gun Makers’ Request To Halt It

      By Laurel Wamsley, March 28, 201912:54 PM ET
      A bump stock, left, is a device that can be added to a gun to increase its firing speed. The devices were banned by the federal government his week. George Frey/Getty Images

      The U.S. Supreme Court officially denied an appeal from gun makers seeking to stop a Trump administration ban on bump stocks, the gun add-ons that can dramatically increase their rate of fire. The ban went into effect on Tuesday.

      Gun makers had filed separate appeals to Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, requesting a temporary hold on the ban. Roberts denied one appeal earlier this week; Sotomayor referred hers to the full court, which denied it on Thursday, allowing the ban to proceed while challenges to it move through the courts.

      Bump stocks gained national attention after they were used in the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, where a gunman used bump-stock outfitted rifles to kill 58 people at an outdoor concert.

      The ban requires bump stocks to be destroyed — such as by melting, shredding or crushing — or handed over at an office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The ATF recommends making an appointment with the ATF office beforehand.

      As NPR’s Bill Chappell reported on Wednesday, the anticipation of a ban spurred sales of the devices:

      RW Arms, a prominent bump stock retailer based in Fort Worth, Texas, says its entire remaining inventory of 60,000 bump stocks has now been turned over to the ATF’s custody. The items will be “shredded and recycled under the supervision of ATF agents,” the company said.

      In the run-up to the total ban, RW Arms had rushed to sell as many bump stocks as it could, posting a countdown clock on its website to warn customers of the impending change. Its bump stocks were priced at between $179 and $199; the website now says they’re out of stock.

      The ATF isn’t saying exactly how many bump stocks have been turned in so far — in large part because there are many ways for gun owners to comply with the law. But the agency’s chief of public affairs, April Langwell, says bump stock owners have turned the accessories in at ATF field offices “all across the country.”

      Some states and cities banned the devices more than a year ago.

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