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“Uzi Accident Sparks Debate About Children And Guns”: Why Would A Parent Or A State Allow A Child To Handle Automatic Weapons?

It was the kind of story that was hard to miss yesterday. A 9-year-old girl, on vacation with her family, was given an Uzi to fire at the Last Stop shooting range in White Hills, Ariz. When the child couldn’t control the submachine gun’s recoil, she accidentally killed her instructor, 39-year-old Charles Vacca.

It’s generating some overdue conversation.

In the aftermath of the tragic death of a gun-range instructor killed by a 9-year-old girl who wasn’t able to control an Uzi 9mm submachine gun, many are raising questions about whether it is safe – or even legal – for young children to handle powerful firearms.

Arizona, where the incident happened on Monday, is one of 21 states that has no laws restricting the access of guns to minors under 18, as long as there is adult supervision.

Twenty-nine states have child access prevention laws. Fourteen prohibit someone from “intentionally, knowingly, and/or recklessly providing some or all firearms to children,” according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The Arizona Republic’s E.J. Montini ran a compelling piece with a notable headline: “Why do we allow a child to handle an Uzi?”

The columnist wrote, “Arizona law allows a minor to possess a weapon if accompanied by a parent, guardian or an instructor. But this type of weapon? It’s time we asked ourselves: Why would a shooting range allow a kid to handle an automatic weapon? Why would a parent? And, most importantly, why would a state?”

A New York Times report added that these ranges have become popular tourist attractions. People can “fire the weapons of their dreams: automatic machine guns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers. A hamburger lunch is included; a helicopter tour of the nearby Grand Canyon is optional.”

And while the public comes to terms with the propriety of these activities, we might also want to ask a related question: who’s in charge of the NRA’s social-media operation?

Yesterday afternoon, with much of the country stunned by the images out of Arizona, an official NRA twitter feed published a link to “7 Ways Children Can Have Fun at the Shooting Range.” This isn’t a joke. In fact, I took a screen grab of the message.

NRA Women


It’s worth noting that the gun group eventually unpublished the tweet, but not before many wondered aloud what in the world the NRA could have been thinking.

MSNBC’s Nick Ramsey added yesterday, “ ‘Think before tweeting’ is advice everyone on social media can use, but particularly those behind the Twitter handle @NRAWomen.”

Truer words were never spoken.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 28, 2014

August 29, 2014 Posted by | Gun Control, Gun Violence, Guns | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Christie Struggles To Defend The Indefensible”: Since We Can’t Save Everyone, Chris Christie Is Not Inclined To Try To Save Anyone

New Jersey’s Democratic legislature approved a measure in the spring to limit the size of firearm magazines to 10 rounds of ammunition. In theory, it’s the sort of gun-safety reform that’s tough to condemn – it’s perfectly consistent with the Constitution; it doesn’t affect hunters; it wouldn’t prevent Americans from buying firearms to protect themselves; and it might save lives.

The bill landed on Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) desk in May, but as we talked about last week, the Republican governor waited until the day before a holiday weekend to announce he’d vetoed the legislation. As Rachel noted on the show, Christie soon after added insult to injury.

First, note that the governor refused to meet with some parents whose children were murdered in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. It’s tempting to think basic human decency, if nothing else, would lead a politician to at least hear these parents out, but Christie’s office said he was out – even though the parents said they saw the governor when they arrived at his office.

Second, note how Christie explained himself yesterday while talking to reporters.

“I’ve heard the argument, and so, are we saying, then, that the 10 children on the clip that they advocate for, that their lives are less valuable? If you take the logical conclusion of their argument, you go to zero, because every life is valuable.

“And so why 10? Why not six? Why not two? Why not one? Why not zero? Why not just ban guns completely? I mean, you know, so the logical conclusion of their argument is that you get to zero eventually.

“So, you know, I understand their argument. I feel extraordinary sympathy for them and the other families, and all the families across America who are the victims of gun violence…. I understand their argument. I’ve heard their argument. I don’t agree with their argument.”

It’s important to understand why this slippery-slope argument is so deeply flawed.

In some of the high-profile mass shootings from recent memory, the ability of the gunman to use high-capacity clips has mattered a great deal. It’s not hard to understand why: when the shooter has to stop to reload, it gives people a chance. Maybe some can get away. Maybe the gunman can be tackled. Maybe that interval, however brief, can make the difference between life and death for a potential victim.

And so lawmakers in New Jersey decided, in the name of public safety, to lower the legal limit of the magazine from 15 rounds to 10. The governor said last week such a change “will not end” gun violence, which is true, but it also misses the point. The goal here is to reduce the number of people who might get shot.

Christie wants to know if “they” – presumably, “they” refers to parents whose children were massacred – are arguing “that the 10 children on the clip that they advocate for, that their lives are less valuable.” I obviously can’t speak for them, but the governor’s cheap reply is based on deeply flawed logic.

Christie hasn’t denied that this gun-safety reform might make a difference. Instead, he’s arguing that since we can’t save everyone, he’s not inclined to try to save anyone.

And all the while, New Jersey’s Tough Guy Governor doesn’t even have the courage to sit down with Newtown parents and make his bad argument to their faces.

Rachel concluded last night, “No one is quite sure what counts as a shameful moment in New Jersey politics anymore, but the governor calling out the parents of murdered kids, for them not understanding the value of human life? This is at least testing the bounds of what is usually called shameful, if not the very definition of the word, itself.”


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 8, 2014

July 9, 2014 Posted by | Chris Christie, Gun Control, High Capacity Magazines | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Dirtbag On Aisle 9”: Target, ‘Open Carry’ And The Clash Of Cultures Over Guns

Today, Target Corp. released a statement in which it asked its customers not to bring firearms into its stores. Here’s an excerpt:

As you’ve likely seen in the media, there has been a debate about whether guests in communities that permit “open carry” should be allowed to bring firearms into Target stores. Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so. But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law …

This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.

Gun advocates often speak of their cultural attachment to firearms, and what we have here is certainly a clash of cultures. Target would probably never have taken this step were it not for the efforts of Open Carry Texas, a group of gun owners who get a charge out of walking into a grocery store or a coffee shop with AR-15s slung over their shoulders so that they can see the terrified looks on people’s faces. Target’s request comes in the wake of similar moves from Chipotle and Starbucks, and in each case it followed the same pattern: Open-carry advocates brought their assault rifles into the stores, customers and staff freaked out, and the corporation decided to make a request of its customers to leave their guns at home.

It’s important to understand that there are lots of gun owners who think groups like Open Carry Texas are nuts, and even plenty of gun advocates who think they’re doing serious damage to the cause. But groups like theirs have performed a service by reminding us that just as there’s a culture of guns, and cultures where guns are plentiful, there are also tens of millions of Americans for whom an absence of guns is a cultural value. It’s part of how they define places, whether it’s their communities or the stores they shop in, as safe and pleasant. People who grew up around a lot of guns may not blink an eye when they go to the hardware store and see a pistol peeking out of some dude’s sweatpants, but many people find that a troubling sight. We’re not all going to share the same culture, but being an honorable member of society means being aware of how some parts of your particular culture may make other people uncomfortable or afraid, and trying to act respectfully in response.

Despite what some extreme gun advocates believe, no right is unlimited, whether it’s your right to own a gun or your right to practice your religion or your right to freedom of speech. But beyond the legal limits, there are also the limits we all respect in order to have a society where we can get along despite our differences. My neighbor has a First Amendment right to write pornographic “Hunger Games” fan fiction, but if he hands his manuscripts to my kids he’s just being a creepy dirtbag, First Amendment or not.

And depending on the laws of your state, you may have a legal right to take your rifle down to the Piggly Wiggly. But that doesn’t mean that doing so doesn’t make you a jerk.


By: Paul Waldman, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, July 2, 2014

July 6, 2014 Posted by | Gun Control, Gun Lobby, Target | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Christie Vetoes Another Gun-Safety Measure”: It’s A Real Shame To See What Some Republicans Will Do In Advance Of A GOP Primary

In early 2013, not long after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) endorsed a series of gun reforms, including a ban on .50-cabliber weapons, saying there was no need for consumers to purchase these kinds of firearms. It was a sensible point – .50-cabliber weapons fire ammunition the size of carrots, have the capacity to pierce steel plate armor from several hundred yards away, and can even shoot down airplanes.

But when New Jersey’s Democratic legislature approved a ban on .50-cabliber weapons, Christie vetoed the bill. The pandering to the Republican Party’s far-right base had begun.

It’s an ongoing exercise.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a gun control bill on Wednesday that would have banned magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate called the restriction of the number of bullets “trivial,” and denied such a limit could prevent future mass shootings.

“Mass violence will not end by changing the number of bullets loaded into a gun,” Christie said in his veto message.

Well, no, of course not. But the point isn’t to end mass violence with one gun-safety reform; the point is to potentially reduce the number of casualties the next time a gunman goes on a rampage.

The governor must have some basic understanding of this, making his statement a classic example of willful ignorance.

I’ve never really understood why limits on high-capacity gun magazines are a problem for so many Republicans. These limits aren’t unconstitutional; they don’t affect hunters; and they don’t prevent Americans from buying firearms to protect themselves.

They might, however, help take the “mass” out of “mass shootings.” So what’s the problem? Other than the NRA telling Republicans that all reforms are bad reforms?

There’s some evidence that the shooter in Newtown paused to reload during the massacre. Nicole Hockley, whose six-year-old son Dylan was killed, said last year, “We have learned that in the time it took him to reload in one of the classrooms, 11 children were able to escape. We ask ourselves every day – every minute – if those magazines had held 10 rounds, forcing the shooter to reload at least six more times, would our children be alive today?”

It’s against this backdrop that Chris Christie vetoed a measure to limit magazine capacity, saying, “I will not support such a trivial approach to the sanctity of human life, because this is not governing.”

I haven’t the foggiest idea what that even means. What’s “trivial” about limiting magazine capacity in an attempt to save lives? If it’s “not governing,” what is it?

It’s a real shame to see what some Republicans have to do in advance of a GOP primary.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 3, 2014

July 5, 2014 Posted by | Chris Christie, Gun Control, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Georgia Legislature Considers Repealing Basically All Gun Laws”: It’s Way, Way Too Hard To Procure And Go Everywhere With A Gun

This probably won’t come as news to Salon’s readers in the state of Georgia, but it turns out it’s way, way, way too hard in the Peach State for one to procure and go everywhere with a gun. So the state Legislature, keeping its eyes firmly fixed on the real issues that matter, is on the verge of remedying this grave injustice by eliminating seemingly every single law regulating firearms in Georgia (which, considering this is Georgia, might not be quite as much work as it seems).

According to a report in Mother Jones, state lawmakers may soon pass the “Safe Carry Protection Act” (HB 875), a law that would not only expand Georgia’s “stand your ground” law but would also:

-Remove the fingerprinting requirement for gun license renewals

-Prohibit the state from keeping a gun license database

-Tighten the state’s preemption statute, which restricts local governments from passing gun laws that conflict with state laws

-Repeal the state licensing requirement for firearms dealers (requiring only a federal firearms license)

-Expand gun owner rights in a declared state of emergency by prohibiting government authorities from seizing, registering, or otherwise limiting the carrying of guns in any way permitted by law before the emergency was declared

-Limit the governor’s emergency powers by repealing the ability to regulate the sale of firearms during a declared state of emergency

-Lower the age to obtain a concealed carry license from 21 to 18 for active-duty military and honorably discharged veterans who’ve completed basic training

-Prohibit detaining someone for the sole purpose of checking whether they have a gun license

As if all of that weren’t enough, MoJo reports that the bill would also so broaden the state’s SYG regulations that even a person using a gun he does not legally hold would be allowed to claim a SYG defense.

In response to the bill’s pending passage, Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, the 17-year-old boy whose killer got off using a SYG defense, wrote a critical Op-Ed in the Savannah Morning News. “I believe Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, and the aggressive culture it fosters, is the reason my son is not here today,” wrote McBath. “Our legislature is looking to expand this dangerous law even further. Legislation here in Georgia, HB 875, would extend our state’s Stand Your Ground law to protect felons who kill using illegal guns.”

“The last thing our families need is for criminals to be shielded by this law,” she added.

More from MoJo:

The legislation passed the House overwhelmingly in February and moved to the state Senate, where it went into committee. But in a strategic move on Tuesday, House Republicans revised the bill and then tacked it onto a separate piece of legislation, HB 60, which would allow some judges to carry guns. The move accomplished two things: First, it allowed the bill to bypass committee and go to the Senate floor for an immediate vote because HB 60 had already been approved by both the House and Senate. Second, the revision did away with a provision that would have decriminalized carrying guns on college campuses—the bill’s supporters knew that the Senate had struck down a similar legislative effort at the end of last year’s session due to a campus carry statute.


By: Elias Isquith, Salon, March 13, 2014

March 14, 2014 Posted by | Gun Control, Guns, Stand Your Ground Laws | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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