Thursday, January 10, 2013

Eight Smart Gun Bills and Two Stupid Ones

Think Progress

The 113th Congress is officially in session, and legislators kicked off the new year, and new term, yesterday with several pieces of gun-related legislation, their response to December’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.
In total — between the Democrats’ proposed gun safety laws and the Republicans’ plans for expanded gun access — ten bills are being introduced today. Here they are:
1. Banning high-capacity ammunition. HR 138. This bill from Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) would ban anyone in the US from owning, buying, or trading high-capacity ammunition clips, like the kinds that are often used in mass shootings. Such clips allow a gunman to fire off as many as 100 rounds without stopping to reload. McCarthy’s connection to gun safety laws is personal: Her husband was killed and son critically injured during a mass shooting.
2. Closing the ‘gun show loophole.’ HR 141. Another measure from McCarthy requires that all gun purchasers undergo a full background check. As-is, the private sales of firearms, and the sale of guns at gun shows, are exempt from the background check requirements that are mandatory for other gun sales. That loophole is currently an easy way for criminals or the mentally ill to access a gun undetected.
3. Making the database of who cannot buy guns effective. HR 137. Currently, states do a terrible job of entering names — of felons or the mentally ill — into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This measure also from McCarthy is called the Fix Gun Checks Act, and has been introduced in previous legislative sessions. It would create incentives and penalties to encourage the efficient entry of names into NICS. It would also close the gun show loophole.

4. Regulating where and how ammunition is purchased. HR 142. McCarthy’s fourth and final bill would make it mandatory for all ammunition dealers to have a license to sell. It would also require anyone purchasing ammunition to do so in person, face-to-face with a seller. All bulk purchases of ammunition would need to be reported under McCarthy’s law. This bill responds to the criticisms that the internet is an open market for the unlimited sale of ammunition.
5. Requiring handguns to be registered. HR 117. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) crafted this national law based on his state’s requirements for handgun purchasing. It would require every single handgun sold in the United States to be licensed and registered, without any exceptions or loopholes, and for that registry to be easily accessible.
6. Regulating how gun licenses are issued. HR 34. Like Holt, Rep. Bobby Rush’s (D-IL) bill aims to create a unified system of gun licensing procedures — for both handguns and semi-automatic weapons. Rush’s legislation, a reintroduction of “Blair’s Bill,” named after a murdered Chicago teen, would also require gun safety training for firearm owners.
7. Raising the age of legal handgun ownership to 21. HR 65. In a move that seems pointed toward combating youth street violence, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) proposed this bill that would make it illegal to own a handgun before the age of 21. Some states have such laws in place, but Jackson Lee’s measure would make the law national.
8. Requiring the reporting of stolen guns. HR 21. This bill, which Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) has introduced to Congress previously and is reintroducing to the new Congress, would also close the ‘gun show loophole’ by requiring all gun-owners to undergo background checks. Additionally, it would make sure that gun owners are required to report stolen guns — a measure that could help law enforcement track illegal guns.
9. & 10. Eliminating ‘gun free zones’ in schools. HR 35 and HR 133. Following the lead of the National Rifle Association, Reps. Steve Stockman (R-TX) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) are both proposing more guns in schools. They want to eliminate “gun free school zones.” In a press statement, Stockman used this highly flawed logic as the reasoning for his bill: “In the 22 years before enactment of ‘gun free school zones’ there were two mass school shootings. In the 22 years since enactment of ‘gun free schools’ there have been 10 mass school shootings.”


  1. Regarding #5....what good will this do? The killer will most likely be dead, and even if they aren't how does registration prevent it?

    The only thing it is good for, is after the fact, assistance to law enforcement in determining who purchased the firearm.

    Here again, law enforcement is not preventing anything...just writing up the report.

    1. For one thing, registration and licensing will eliminate straw purchasing, or nearly so. In addition, combined with reporting requirements for lost and stolen guns, it will constrain you lawful gun owners to finally start being more responsible with your property.

    2. So providing the government a list of privately held firearms for future confiscation will just be an unintended consequence?

    3. Gunsuck Greg: Your paranoid fantasies indicate that if there was mandatory mental testing for gun purchase, your weapons would be confiscated. You are a sick cookie.

    4. Nice catch-22. The government will take your guns from you, but only if you are crazy enough to believe that will happen.

    5. I'm sick because I know the history of Britain's handgun ban? Handguns were registered. The government had a list of who had what. Now handguns are illegal for the most part, and confiscating them was easy.

      I'm sick because I see the talk in New York and Illinois about confiscating semiautomatic rifles? How can that be done without a list?

      There's nothing paranoid about seeing where a policy leads. Your attempts to deny reality are the sign of sickness here.

  2. As usual, MikeB presents incorrect information. Regarding Mikeb's number 2, "As-is, the private sales of firearms, and the sale of guns at gun shows, are exempt from the background check requirements that are mandatory for other gun sales."

    Any firearms dealer (who has a Federal Firearms License because that is his/her business) has to run a criminal background check on sales regardless of the location of the sale. So a firearms dealer that would have to run a background check at their store would also have to run a background check at a gun show.

    Further, private sales have never required a background check regardless of the location where the transaction occurs.

    1. First of all It's not MY number 2. I copied and pasted it. Secondly, thanks for that simpleton's explanation of private sales vs. the FFL kind. Everyone around here knows that already even thought the wording of point number 2 was a bit ambiguous.

    2. Then why does your side keep calling it the "gun show loophole"? That looks deceptive.

    3. Mike,

      I'm glad you understand this, but I wonder if Think Progress does since the text came from them. If they do, they didn't state that.

      I've seen far too many gun control advocates, especially those in the media and lawmakers who should both know better, falsely state that FFL's can avoid doing these checks when selling at Gun Shows.

      Even if they're just ignorant, they should know better as this kind of misunderstanding colors the public's understanding of the issue and can cause people to pick a different side than they might if they had all the facts. The same is true of other prevalent misunderstandings like the idea that teflon coating on bullets helps them pierce body armor (Something I heard repeated on MSNBC last night by CT's new Senator who said he plans to introduce a law to ban these bullets).

  3. Number 3 is a joke, "3. Making the database of who cannot buy guns effective."

    There were over 2 million documented violent crimes in the U.S. in 2010 ... and millions of property crimes. Somehow the hundreds of thousands of law enforcement personnel and the hundreds of thousands of laws on the books were impotent to stop violent crime and property crime. That same apparatus will be just as impotent with databases.

  4. Number 4 regulating ammunition sales will accomplish nothing ... just like all of our existing laws did nothing to stop the 2+ million violent crimes that happened in 2010.

  5. While I don't know that number 3 would do much to prevent crime, and I can't speak to the wording of the bill since it's text wasn't online last night when I reviewed many of the others, it would simply be an attempt to improve the checks system already in place, and it might improve that system. I would, however, like to see an amendment to also require states to improve their reporting of expungements, dismissals, acquittals, and arrests where no charges were filed--this is another area where our background check system has glaring faults and people who never have committed a crime often get denied and face an expensive legal battle to fix the problem. I deal with a lot of these cases, and they contribute to the public's dislike of background checks.

    As for the other things,

    10 rounds is a silly, arbitrary number or we would limit police to it too. The Newtown shooter showed that he had plenty of time to change magazines as much as he wanted by leaving the school strewn with half full magazines as he shot, reloaded, and moved on. This seems like a rational limitation at first glance, but further examination shows that it wouldn't really make a difference.

    You know why we dislike and distrust registries, so I won't reiterate all of those reasons again.

    As for the limitation of handgun ownership, this will be disregarded by those committing violence in inner cities--the OG's will still give the young guys guns. The only people who will be affected will be those 18-21 year olds whose parents give them a handgun to keep at home for self defense or to use for competition shooting.

    Finally, regarding 9 and 10, these school zones are not heeded by anyone except the truly law abiding gun owners. Your "hidden criminals" and the overt criminals don't care and aren't deterred by these. What these would do is remove one of the hurdles to allowing teachers to be armed if they desire so and the state they are in allows it. This is something I've actually heard local law enforcement say they are in favor of because it would enable School Resource Officers to concentrate their patrols and duties at schools where no teacher was authorized to carry a handgun.

    1. I think a lot of hidden criminals are impacted by the gun-free zone regulations. Remember they're not all active in criminal activity but not yet caught. Many of them are just stupid or clumsy, others are on drugs or drink too much, still others are rageaholics. Many of them do obey the laws but they're not safe.

    2. Is that your view of teachers, for example? We work in gun-free zones. We're smart, able, calm, and sober enough to teach students--a fundamentally important job in a democracy--but not enough to be armed?

  6. Forgot to hit on the limitation of ammo sales to face to face transactions, etc. A spree shooter knows he will either be in jail, a fugitive without access to his cash, or dead after his shooting, so he will pay whatever price he has to and go wherever he needs to go to get his ammo. The only people this will affect are those of us who practice a lot. We buy this ammo in bulk, online, so that we can practice a lot. Greg says he goes through 100 rounds at the range. I run through 50-200 depending on how many guns I'm practicing with and how much I feel is necessary to maintain my proficiency. If I can't get cheap ammo, I can't practice as much, and my accuracy suffers. If a criminal can't get cheap ammo, he pays more and commits the same crime.

  7. 1. High capacity--more than ten rounds, presumably--is a misnomer. Standard magazines often hold fifteen to seventeen rounds. In addition, the genuinely high-capacity magazines have a tendency to jam. The representatives want to make mass shooters more effective.

    2. Private transactions frighten control freaks. How can the government control things it doesn't know about?

    3. If all you wanted to do was improve the reporting system, I doubt you'd get much objection. We know there's so much more.

    4. I buy ammunition in bulk because when I go to the range, I want to shoot a lot. Ammunition in bulk is cheaper. Sometimes, I can get rounds on-line that I can't find locally. Besides, these mass shooters tend to get killed or caught after shooting only as much as comes in a couple of boxes at Wal-Mart.

    5. The government can't take what it doesn't know about. Ask the legal handgun owners in Britain.

    6. Licenses to do what? It sounds like a license to own. Most states don't require a license to own. We don't want a brand-new licensing system added on to everything else we already comply with.

    7. Eighteen is already the minimum age, and licensed dealers can't sell a handgun to anyone under twenty-one. But we allow eighteen-year-olds to vote, smoke, sign contracts, join the military, and marry.

    8. I would, anyway, since I'd want my gun back. Criminals won't report when their guns are stolen.

    All of the above is security theater and a set of infringements on our rights.

    9 and 10 are good.

  8. Mikeb, will you at least do this: Will you admit that without registration, confiscation is much more difficult?

  9. OK, just looked at the text of the Gun Show Loophole one--it's finally online for anyone interested.

    It not only requires background checks. It also requires that, before a gun show can be held, the operator has to provide the Attorney General with 30 days notice that includes a list of the names and personal information of Anyone and Everyone who will be offering a gun for sale or trade at the show, whether they will be operating a table, or just walking around with one of their own guns that they want to sell or trade.

    That is patently impossible to comply with, so this bill is dishonestly named; it isn't just a closing of the "gun show loophole," it's an attempt to shut down all gun shows.

    Hell No!