I’m not an expert in gun buyback programs, but the basic idea seems pretty straightforward. In the hopes of getting more guns off the streets, there are organized events in which members of the public bring their firearms, and exchange them for cash. They’re usually publicly funded, though as Rachel noted on the show in March, some are privately financed.
But what matters is the point of the programs: removing guns from circulation. It’s possible Arizona Republicans find this confusing.
Arizona cities and counties that hold community gun buyback events will have to sell the surrendered weapons instead of destroying them under a bill Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law Monday.
The bill was championed by Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature who argued that municipalities were skirting a 2010 law that was tightened last year and requires police to sell seized weapons to federally licensed dealers. They argued that destroying property turned over to the government is a waste of taxpayer resources.
Hmm. Let’s say a local sheriff’s office in Arizona wants to reduce gun violence in its community by getting more guns off the streets. The sheriff decides to do this through a gun buyback program, encouraging local citizens to participate in exchange for money, helping to keep weapons out of the hands of children and criminals. The guns are then destroyed.
Under a new law championed by state Republicans, however, that sheriff’s office can’t destroy the guns — the firearms collected during the buyback will instead be brought to gun stores, where they then can be sold and put back on the streets.
The Arizona GOP wants to turn gun buyback programs into gun recycling programs — watch the assault rifle go from the street … to the police … to the gun dealers … back to the street.
Let’s all marvel at the cycle of life, or more accurately in this case, death.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 30, 2013
Yesterday was dispiriting for the vast majority of Americans who, according to recent polling, want to see expanded background checks on gun sales. But another story that may have been overlooked, between the disappointing Senate outcome and the updates coming out of Boston, was this investigative piece from the Times’s National desk about Internet arms sales, dubbed “the gun show that never ends.” Reporters scoured online ads on Armslist, a self-described “firearms marketplace,” and found that several people who buy firearms are convicted felons who fail background checks, and many private Internet dealers simply look the other way. It’s an unregulated swath of the market that’s evaded government oversight, and, in the absence of new gun legislation, will continue to do so.
Micki Pickren, 52, was shot in the back of the head, the side of the head and the face by her boyfriend in Auburndale, Fla., Tuesday evening. Randall Scott Miller, 44, a former Marine, has been previously arrested for battery domestic violence and child abuse. The bullet in Pickren’s head was not able to be removed but she is expected to survive. Miller is at large and considered armed and dangerous.
Edith Hardy, 82, was sitting on the sofa inside her Chester, Pa., home Wednesday afternoon when she was shot in the neck by a stray bullet during a barrage of gunfire that also critically wounded a young man. Authorities have no motives or suspects. The critically wounded man was believed to be the intended target; he sustained a gunshot wound to the head and is on life support. Hardy is expected to survive.
A woman sleeping on a couch in a Hayward, Calif., home suffered head and neck wounds early Wednesday when bullets ripped through a front window. A couple was engaged in a heated argument across the street from the home right before gunshots were heard. The victim, a 24-year-old woman, was rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery. Her condition was not known.
A 2-year-old boy is recovering from a gunshot wound after accidentally shooting himself in Gurley, Ala., Tuesday night. Deputies responded to a home on Church Street around 7:20 p.m. and found a child with a gunshot wound to the hand. Deputies said the unsupervised child shot himself. Deputies notified the Department of Human Resources. No charges are expected to be filed.
A crying 5-month old girl was found under a bed at a northwest Houston, Tex., apartment where two people were shot to death Wednesday evening. Police were called at around 6 p.m. after hearing the baby’s cries and found a man dead on the floor and a woman dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Police found a second man inside the bedroom who had also been shot in the head; he is in critical condition.
A student who suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound Tuesday morning at a Temple, Tex., high school is in very critical condition. Officers found the 15-year-old student near the rear of the gym at Temple High School and recovered a handgun. The boy has not been identified, but the school confirmed that he is a member of the school’s ROTC program.
A 19-year-old man was shot twice in the torso by a fellow student at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Elgerondo Williams, 22, pulled out a small-caliber handgun and shot his friend after they argued over money owed on a bet over a video game. The victim is in stable condition. Williams surrendered to a police officer on campus after initially fleeing the scene.
A man was shot by his roommate several times and killed after a dispute north of Nixa, Mo., shortly before noon Wednesday. The victim died where he was shot, at the end of the driveway of the home that the two men shared with two other men. Deputies arrested the alleged gunman as he was trying to flee.
A man in his 20s is in critical condition after an argument ended in a shooting in Waveland, Miss., on Wednesday. Four or five men were fighting at a residence when one of them took out a gun and began shooting. Police questioned two of the men, but no arrests have been made.
Three men were shot in the street in front of a home in Bridge City, La., on Tuesday night. At around 7:20 p.m., the unidentified suspects pulled up in a gold-colored vehicle and opened fire. All three are expected to survive. Police have no suspects.
Two people were injured in a shooting at a San Pablo, Calif., bar on Tuesday night. Police responded to reports of a shooting around 9:10 p.m and found two people who had been shot multiple times. They are expected to survive. No suspects have been arrested.
Shootings in the Heart of Chicago and Grand Crossing neighborhoods in Chicago, Ill., left two men injured Tuesday night and early Wednesday. At 8:40 p.m. Tuesday, a 50-year-old man was shot in the shoulder as he left his home to inspect gunfire outside. At around 1:45 a.m. Wednesday, two people approached a 45-year-old man from behind and opened fire, fleeing on foot.
According to Slate’s gun-death tracker, an estimated 3,514 people have died as a result of gun violence in America since the Newtown massacre on December 14, 2012.
By: Joe Nocera, The New York Times, April 18, 2013
Model international actors Iran and North Korea came together to block the adoption of a treaty regulating the $70 billion dollar arms trade at the United Nations on Thursday, no doubt endearing them to the National Rifle Association.
The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) has been in negotiations for the past two weeks, the second attempt to gain a unanimously agreed upon text. The final draft was put before the delegates on Wednesday, with the assumption that it was set to cruise to an easy approval. That assumption was trampled once the Iranian delegation rose to break the required consensus for the treaty’s passage. Iran’s disapproval opened the door for North Korea to join in blocking the treaty. Syria also took umbrage at the text, leading to it and Iran reportedly both objecting to the lack of reference in the treaty’s final draft to foreign occupation or “crimes of aggression.” The President of the Conference quickly suspended the debate before a final vote could be held, leaving the door open to bringing the Iranian and North Korean delegations around, but the chances remain slim.
While not perfect, the treaty had still managed to appease the concerns of many advocates for stronger treaty-language. In particular, a hard fought clause regulating the import and export of ammunition and munitions made its way into the final text. Given the United States’ past hesitance in moving forward on the treaty — including its insistence that the ATT Conference work through consensus — and its current support, the late hour block from Iran and North Korea comes off as slightly ironic. The irony is even more pronounced when one considers that the Iranian delegate, in explaining his objection to the treaty, denounced the U.S.’ influence in shaping the treaty. “The right of individuals to own and use guns has been protected in the current text to meet the constitutional requirements of only one State,” Iranian ambassador Mohammad Khazeee said.
The treaty will now likely move to the General Assembly, however, where it will find the two-thirds necessary to finally pass next week. Given the crazy rhetoric present the last time it almost passed, the eventual passage of the ATT will be sure to provoke even more inflammatory opposition now. In opposing this version of the treaty, the National Rifle Association was much quieter about its lobbying effort, including a push for provisions exempting so-called “civilian firearms” from the treaty’s effects. There is no sign of that influence in the final draft of the ATT. However, the NRA still seems set to come out with a win on this one. Either the treaty is delayed, allowing more time to take it down for good, or it passes with the individual protections it supports hard-coded into the final document.
Their domestic influence will be marshaled once more though once the treaty is signed. At that point, the ATT will go to the U.S. Senate for ratification, where several Republicans have already made abundantly clear their skepticism regarding the very idea of regulating the arms trade. For years now, conservatives have used the supposed threat that an Arms Trade Treaty would entail as a fundraising tool or way to burnish their right-wing credentials. The Heritage Foundation has been slamming each successive draft of the ATT, and will now likely begin a campaign alongside the NRA to doom it in the Senate.
By: Hayes Brown, Think Progress, March 28, 2013
If you’re 18, the law says you can’t buy a handgun. But you can buy a handgun without breaking the law. This paradox exists thanks to a little-noticed manifestation of the so-called gun show loophole, which keeps government regulations out of private gun sales.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 made it illegal for a gun dealer to sell handgun to anyone under the age of 21. “Sales of handguns and ammunition for handguns are limited to persons 21 years of age and older,” the ATF’s official Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide states. But the agency’s regulations only apply to federally licensed firearms dealers, not to non-professional private sellers.
“A high school senior in most states can go to a gun show, go online, or any other place that they might find a private seller and lawfully purchase a gun that they couldn’t otherwise at a gun dealer,” explained David Chipman, a former ATF special agent who now works with Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
“That is correct,” confirmed George Semonick of the ATF. “Under federal law, it’s not unlawful for an 18-year-old to posses a handgun,” Semonick explained to Salon, though some states have their own age requirements for handgun possession.
While Congress will soon consider legislation to close the part of the private seller loophole that lets them sell guns without background checks, the handgun age restriction loophole has so far not been specifically addressed or even much noticed. “I’m shocked that the media hasn’t jumped on this,” Chipman told Salon.
But the Internet is way ahead of Washington (and the media) and can helpfully explain this nuance in the gun laws to anyone looking for answers. “How should I go about buying a pistol? I’m 18 years old?” one user asked on Yahoo’s question forum. There are plenty of informed responses: “You cannot buy from a dealer if you are under 21. You can buy from a private sale in many states, but not all states,” one read.
Another: “To be honest your best bet is to place a WTB [want to buy] classified, make sure you are up front about your age because lots of Face to Face sellers won’t sell to someone under 21.” A third: “Basically you have to put an ad in your paper saying you would like to purchase one of these or pick it up at a gun show.”
A separate user wrote that he or she had “heard from a lot of virginia residents that you can buy a gun at 18 years old in virginia at a gun show without a license i also know a couple of people that have bought from gun shows.”
The topic has come up on numerous gun forums as well, where commenters can give sophisticated explanations of the dichotomy between licensed dealers and private sellers. “I hate when people don’t know that you can sell a handgun to a 19 year old in a private purchase,” one commenter complained. Another responded: “Unfortunately, it will be very hard to convince something is legal if they feel it is illegal … All you can do is print out 18 USC 922(x) and the ‘providing firearms to juveniles or minors’ statutes in your state.”
“It’s quite legal for a nonprofessional to sell it to the 18-to-20-year-old, and for the 18-to-20-year-old to buy it, even if the nonprofessional knows or suspects that the buyer is under 21,” wrote libertarian-leaning lawyer Eugene Volokh on his popular blog back in 2010. Volokh notes that while the 18-to-20-year-old “can’t have someone buy it specifically for him, since that would be conspiracy to make a false statement, given that the straw purchaser would have to falsely assert that the gun is for the straw purchaser himself,” he can buy it from a private seller. (Although, one 18-year-old in Pennsylvania found a state-specific loophole that let his father legally purchase a handgun for him.)
Laws vary from state to state and while some make it illegal for people under the age of 21 to purchase or possess a handgun at all, others go by federal law, which deals only with sales from gun dealers. An 18-to-20-year-old cannot, however, obtain a concealed carry license in any state, as they all set the threshold at 21.
The ATF’s Semonick explained that this loophole sometimes creates unexpected complications. For instance, if an 18-year-old brings their legally purchased handgun into a gun store for repairs, the licensed dealer is not allowed to return the gun, as that would violent federal law prohibiting the transfer of a handgun from a dealer to someone under 21-years-old.
“As a law enforcement professional, this was one of my concerns,” former ATF agent Chipman said. “It shouldn’t be easier to go buy three Glocks than to buy a case of Bud. But that’s the case.”
By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, February 5, 2013
“Confessions Of A Former Gun-Worshipper”: Like All Religions, Gun Worship Deserves A Healthy Dose Of Critical Thinking
First confession: I used to have a thing for guns.
Because guns meant men, power, danger, and love.
Guns meant legendary rifle-carrying Revolutionary War-fighting ancestors, posses of Okie great-grandfathers riding the line between outlaw and volunteer lawman, and Johnny Cash look-alike uncles. They meant chuckling tales of misspent shotgun cartridges traded by friends of Johnny Cash look-alike uncles at family funerals. Grandfathers who special-ordered assault rifles to keep in their homes in the Los Angeles suburbs—just because they could, and just because someone might think that they shouldn’t. And, once in a long while, guns meant a drive into the manzanita-thicketed Southern California foothills with Dad to aim into the dusty hillsides.
Guns were what boys got to do. More precisely: guns were what sons got to do.
How could I not have a thing for guns?
Second confession: I no longer have a thing for guns.
Yes, Newtown had something to do with it. But I have more private reasons as well. Suffice it to say, I sat up one morning last month and said, yes, I’m all done with guns now. Not interested. In any way, shape, or form.
And my conversion—or is it a deconversion?—has made me think more seriously about the reverence in which guns are held in this country.
It’s something I’ve known intellectually, of course. I’ve read my Richard Slotkin. I know, as he writes in Gunfighter Nation (1992) that one of our greatest national myths holds that “violence is an essential and necessary part of the process through which American society was established and through which its democratic values are defended and enforced.”
What I’ve only realized lately is the extent to which the sacralization of guns by the gun lobby has made it nearly impossible to have a sober, data-based public conversation about gun policy—blocking even the collection of data on gun violence, as Tom Diaz of the Violence Policy Center explained here last month.
We’re all waiting, of course, to hear what Vice President Joe Biden will say next Tuesday as he presents the findings of his gun task force. You can bet there will be something about closing the now infamous “gun show” loophole that allows for nearly 40% of gun purchases to proceed without a background check, as well something about reinstating bans on assault weapons—like the weapon used at Sandy Hook elementary. Maybe Vice President Biden will also underscore an obvious national need for better mental health screening and treatment.
But also needed is a broader conversation about the sacred halo many Americans—including me—have bestowed on guns and gun ownership.
Like all religions, gun worship deserves a healthy dose of critical thinking.
By: Joanna Brooks, Religion Dispatches, January 11, 2013