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Member since: Sun Jan 14, 2007, 02:51 PM
Number of posts: 7,981

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Gun lobby defends not the Constitution but a cynical business model

There's a little known fact about guns in America, and it's one that the firearms industry and its political allies don't like to dwell on: The rate of gun ownership in America is declining.

This has been the case for decades. Rates peaked way back in the 1970s, the era of disco balls and bell bottoms. In 1977, 54 percent of American households reported owning guns. In 2010, the last time the General Social Survey data was compiled, the percentage had shrunk to 32.

The Violence Policy Center follows such data, as analyzed by the National Opinion Research Center. The center's last report was "A Shrinking Minority: The Continuing Decline of Gun Ownership in America."

The trend is expected to continue. It seems counterintuitive, given all the recent headlines about people lining up at gun stores and given the stranglehold the gun lobby has on American politics. It raises all sorts of questions. Who owns guns, who doesn't, and why? For the nation to handle its problems with gun violence effectively, we need to grasp the nitty-gritty realities of gun ownership.

Posted by SecularMotion | Sat Feb 23, 2013, 05:28 PM (11 replies)

Democrats see 2014 opportunity in gun control debate

Democratic campaign strategists believe Republican opposition to the gun control push led by President Obama will make the GOP vulnerable with voters in suburban districts — the very seats Democrats are focusing on in their bid to regain the House majority.

A memo Monday from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee outlines how it believes "Tea Party Republicans" are hurting the party overall with their stance against expanded gun control measures.

"On the eve of a major grassroots push in favor of gun violence prevention, it’s clear that Tea Party House Republicans will maintain their out-of-touch approach and obstruct sensible reforms to reduce gun violence that most Americans support — undermining their party’s appeal, hurting their candidates and endangering suburban Republican seats," the memo reads.

Obama last month unveiled a series of reforms aimed at curbing gun violence, including a call for a ban on assault weapons, universal background checks and a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines. But many of the president's proposals remain controversial within the Republican Party — and among many Democrats — including the assault weapons ban and background checks.


Posted by SecularMotion | Fri Feb 22, 2013, 07:09 AM (5 replies)

Democrats Guide Package of Gun-Control Bills Through the Assembly

Regardless of where they stand on gun control, the audience in the packed Statehouse gallery witnessed a small piece of history yesterday, as Democratic leaders passed a package of 22 bills that impose new curbs on access to guns, as well as other gun-related legislation.

Many of the bills were approved with little or no Republican support in the Assembly. The package now heads to the Senate for passage.

At this point, the key question is what will Gov. Chris Christie do when the bills land on his desk. Last month, he created a bipartisan task force to look at the issue of gun violence and asked for a report within the coming month. If the task force meets its deadline, it would be within the 45 days Christie has to either veto or sign the legislation.

The measures range from tighter requirements for background checks; proof of safety training before purchasing a firearm; a reduction in the maximum capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds; to a stipulation that ammunition sales and transfers be conducted face to face. One bill disqualifies certain people -- like those on the federal Terrorist Watchlist -- from buying guns. Another prohibits the state from investing in companies that manufacture, import, or sell assault weapons to civilians.

Posted by SecularMotion | Fri Feb 22, 2013, 07:06 AM (21 replies)

Poll finds broad support for gun control legislation in Vt.

CASTLETON, Vt.-A new poll from the Castleton Polling Institute finds Vermonters are overwhelmingly in favor of restricting access to guns and ammunition, and that's true even among gun owners.

Pollsters asked 620 Vermonters four questions about gun control, and the difference between what gun owners and non-gun owners thought might surprise you.

When people were asked if they would agree with requiring strict reporting for mental health professionals to the national instant background check system, 82 percent of gun owners and 88 percent of non-gun owners favored the move.

The poll found strong support for broader background checks by closing the gun show loophole, which allows people to buy guns without a background check-- 71 percent of gun owners and 81 percent of non-gun owners want background checks at gun shows.

Posted by SecularMotion | Fri Feb 22, 2013, 07:05 AM (0 replies)

Latest Front in the Gun Debate Is Mandatory Insurance

In a society sharply divided over efforts to curb violence and the right to bear arms, both sides of the gun debate seem to agree on at least one thing: a bigger role for the insurance industry to play in a heavily armed society.

But just what that role should be, and whether insurers will choose to accept it, are still very much in dispute.

Lawmakers in at least half a dozen states, including California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, have proposed legislation this year that would require gun owners to buy liability insurance — much as car owners are required to buy auto insurance. Doing so would give a financial incentive for safe behavior, they hope, as people with less dangerous weapons or safety locks could qualify for lower rates.

“I believe that if we get the private sector and insurance companies involved in gun safety, we can help prevent a number of gun tragedies every year,” said David P. Linsky, a Democratic state representative in Massachusetts who wants to require gun owners to buy insurance, which he believes will encourage more responsible behavior and therefore reduce accidental shootings. “Insurance companies are very good at evaluating risk factors and setting their premiums appropriately.”

Posted by SecularMotion | Thu Feb 21, 2013, 02:00 PM (19 replies)

Bronx politician pushes for gun-crime registry

A Bronx politician is pushing for a registry that would track criminals much as the state’s sex offender registry tracks offenders.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., made the suggestion in his State of the Borough address yesterday.

“Law-abiding citizens ought to know who among us is responsible for gun violence,” Diaz said.

He proposed an online registry featuring criminals convicted of crimes involving a gun. They would have to update the police about where they live and work and stay on the registry for 10 years.

Posted by SecularMotion | Thu Feb 21, 2013, 10:46 AM (8 replies)

Gun Zealots Make Case for Gun Control

One wonders whether the synapses simply fail to connect in the minds of zealots.

First we get a zealot like Scott Roeder who was so consumed with the "right to life" that he murdered Dr. George Tiller.

Then there’s the more recent case of the infamous ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, who told his captive, Jim Reynolds, that he had gone on his murderous rampage because he wanted to clear his name.

Now comes the case of 45-year old Everett Basham, who was so upset with the injustice of new gun safety legislation that he allegedly sent an email to California State Senator Leland Yee (D) threatening to kill him unless Yee "stopped pushing legislation to ban so-called 'bullet buttons,' devices that permit swift reloading of military-style assault weapons by allowing for rapid exchange of ammunition magazines."

Posted by SecularMotion | Wed Feb 20, 2013, 10:36 AM (30 replies)

A 'well regulated militia' has little in common with the arsenals of today

Had I grown up on a farm or a ranch, I might see things differently. Had I had a good use for a gun — to protect the sheep from the coyotes, or to put down an injured horse — I would likely feel differently.

We all see things through our own eyes. It's difficult to see through someone else's eyes when talking about the Second Amendment: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Walk into a gun show or a gun shop. What do you see? Do you see the arms of a well-regulated militia necessary to the security of a free state?

The photos of gun shows send chills up my spine. What I see is a drug store for addicts — precision, man-made machinery. To a gun aficionado, do the wares for sale compare with methamphetamine or crack cocaine? Do they offer the means to reach an illusory high of power and invulnerability, a cocoon of godlike power over life and death?

Posted by SecularMotion | Wed Feb 20, 2013, 10:29 AM (8 replies)

The Science of Panic: Why the NRA Is Wrong About Defensive Gun Use

Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, released an op-ed for the Daily Caller on Wednesday, February 13, to defend the pro-gun position, listing hurricanes, tornadoes, riots, gangs, lone criminals, and my personal favorite, terrorists, as threats Americans are "sure to face -- not just maybe." This use of fear to implement a political agenda is nothing new to America's right wing. From the infamous Southern Strategy to Milton Friedman and George W. Bush passing laissez faire reforms in New Orleans following Katrina, conservatives have unabashedly manipulated their ranks because scared people are obedient. Studies indicate that people who have larger right amygdalas, the part of of the brain associated with sensitivity to fear, tend to be more conservative. It is no surprise, then, that this tactic is so effective. Now, I find myself wondering where Mr. LaPierre lives that he encounters each of these threats, but more importantly I question his underlying assumption that armed civilians are competent enough in crisis scenarios to ward off or kill an attacker.

Though the scenario plays out in virtually every western and action film ever made, good guys stopping bad guys with guns is a rare occurrence as we know from reports from the U.S. Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice and the Harvard Injury Control Policy Research Center's David Hemenway. Every year there are even a few token incidents in the news of this occurring, but for most part these events are uncommon. And there is a good reason for why that is: Human physiology.

When people are put in a crisis situation the fight-or-flight response is triggered and the sympathetic nervous system kicks into action involuntarily. Stress hormones like epinephrine are released en masse into our blood stream increasing arterial pressure and blood flow to major muscle masses, dilating the blood vessels. This boosts our gross motor skills. Still some blood vessels constrict which reduces blood flow to the ends of appendages to limit injuries. The heart rate increases. A report from Killology Research Group, that studies the science of combat, explains that "extreme SNS activation will cause catastrophic failure of the visual, cognitive, and motor control systems." Tunnel vision and auditory exclusion impair our ability to take in our surroundings, we lose complex motor control (meaning we fumble performing anything but the most basic movements) and irrationality and confusion prevent sound action.

This is precisely why police officers and soldiers require constant training in high stress situations to develop muscle memory to overcome these physiological barriers to rational decision-making. Even then, prolonged exposure can result in post-traumatic stress disorder. The argument that armed civilians are just as capable as law enforcement at stopping crime is essentially the same as saying "police don't need training."

Posted by SecularMotion | Tue Feb 19, 2013, 08:48 AM (65 replies)

Pro-Gun Voices in Congress Are Open to Bullet Capacity Limits

WASHINGTON — Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, is haunted by many things that emerged from the investigation of the December mass shooting at a Newtown elementary school. Among them is the nagging question of what prompted the gunman, Adam Lanza, to put down his assault rifle after killing 20 children and pick up the pistol he used to end his own life.

“We do know that historically in these instances, amateurs have trouble switching magazines,” Mr. Murphy said, referring to the high-capacity ammunition feeding device used by Mr. Lanza to shoot scores of bullets in seconds. “I believe, and many of the parents there believe, that if Lanza had to switch cartridges nine times versus two times there would likely still be little boys and girls alive in Newtown today.”

It is that conviction that has helped put fresh scrutiny on the size of magazines as Congress debates new gun laws.

While influential lawmakers in both parties view a proposed ban on assault weapons as politically toxic, lawmakers seem increasingly open to a ban on high-capacity magazines, like the 15- and 30-round devices that have been used in shooting rampages from Aurora, Colo., to Tucson, where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head, to Newtown.

Posted by SecularMotion | Mon Feb 18, 2013, 05:50 PM (50 replies)
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