Obama

Common Sense Gun Control

President Obama has recently proposed a plan that would impose new gun control measures on the American public. He also signed 23 executive orders to help further his crusade of limiting gun violence. That is an extensive list to cover, so I’m going to stick to the four main pieces of legislation President Obama desires Congress to pass.

Proposed Legislation

The most contentious law President Obama wants codified is a ban on assault weapons. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has already signed into law a bill that requires a “statewide re-registration of all handguns and grandfathered assault weapons.” In response, New York assemblyman Raymond Walter highlighted New York’s violent crime statistics, which indicate that of the four people per 100,000 murdered each year, rifles account for a mere .03 percent of the killings. In fact, in 2011 only five people died from being shot with rifles, while 28 died from being pummeled with fists. I guess since you can’t ban fists, assault rifles are the next best thing. In all seriousness, though, a ban on assault weapons seems like it would do more harm than good. I would also find it to be unconstitutional pursuant to United States v. Miller (1939).

President Obama’s next target would be high-capacity magazines. He has proposed legislation limiting the size of ammunition magazines to 10 bullets or fewer, which is not a bad idea. When Jared Lee Loughner shot Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, he was able to fire 31 bullets in 15 seconds. It was only when he had to reload that bystanders wrestled the gun from him. If he had to reload after the first ten shots, some of his victims would probably be alive today. Moreover, limiting clip size to 10 rounds is not going to hinder anyone from defending themselves from a mugger, burglar, or insane co-worker. What I mean by that is that if you can’t drop your target with 10 shots, your target will probably drop you, and you may strike innocent bystanders by accident. I am not necessarily opposed to a ban on high-capacity magazines, but I will return to the topic of magazine size later.

The President would like to close loopholes that allow gun buyers to circumvent the background check system. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 40 percent of gun sales are completed without a background check. Most of these occur at gun shows or over the Internet. Regulating gun show purchases is something I support wholeheartedly, as it is common sense to require everybody get a background check before purchasing a firearm.

President Obama believes that Congress would also do well to enact a federal statute stopping “straw man” purchases of firearms in order to hamstring trafficking rings. Ironically, the ATF actually gave the okay on “straw man” purchases in Operation Fast and Furious and lost hundreds of guns during Obama’s first term, so maybe the government can crack down on itself before looking elsewhere.

My Concerns

The President’s proposals to limit the manufacture and sale of new assault weapons and ammunition clips with more than 10 bullets would not affect those already on the market, so the confiscation of guns grandfathered in wouldn’t be a concern… yet. Allow me to clarify. Even though I am supportive of most of these ideas, I do not like knee-jerk responses. If these pieces of legislation are passed, what are we to expect next time a school full of children is shot up, or a park, or a theater for that matter? If these measures fail to produce the intended results, I am afraid that Democrats may push for even tougher measures.

NewAdamOndoIcon-285x300I am not saying that we shouldn’t do anything, but I think more analysis and uniform action is necessary. Just look at New York’s new restrictions on magazine capacity. Gov. Cuomo has gone even further than Obama has called for by limiting the capacity to no more than seven rounds. When asked why seven, Cuomo responded, “Because [access to] the high-capacity magazines that give you the capacity to kill a large number of human beings in a very short period of time [are] nonsensical to a civil society.” Now, having seven bullets isn’t much different than ten, so the legislation itself isn’t that devastating to people who want to defend themselves. However, the fact that legislators are quibbling over whether they should allow seven or ten or fifteen bullets is worrisome. If Cuomo thinks that a 10 bullet maximum is nonsensical what is to stop Governor Jerry Brown of California from saying seven is nonsensical, so five is the new limit?

Long Island Assemblyman Joseph Saladino also made a valid point when he said that a seven bullet limit “would not have stopped that horrible and tragic crime [in Newtown, Connecticut].” I think that in the Loughner case in Arizona, clip size would have made a difference, but the shooter in this instance faced little resistance from his victims and could have carried multiple loaded guns, thus shrinking the already small windows the teachers may have had to tackle him. The only way to truly prevent a tragedy like that would be to arm teachers, and allow open carry in general. If Obama really wants to see a decrease in mass shootings, all he needs to do is emulate Texas.

Adam Ondo | University of Rochester | @JoplinMaverick

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8 Responses

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  1. Michael
    Feb 01, 2013 - 12:57 PM

    Adam, using an argument that limiting a law abiding individual’s gun magazine to a specific number of bullets in and effort to reduce a mentally deranged or a criminal’s ability to do less harm has no logical basis. More people die in auto accidents from speeding than gun violence. If we use your argument then we need to limit vehicle speeds to the maximum allowable highway speed. You Mustang can go from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds but at 70 the engine stops. Vehicular deaths limited but your personal liberties are infringed and justified by an argument that you don’t need to go any faster. Remember, anytime you suggest to limit an individual’s liberties, for whatever reason, you agree that someone else is responsible for your decisions and actions. Welcome to socialism/progressivism/etc…..

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  2. Britton
    Jan 29, 2013 - 04:57 PM

    I disagree with nearly everything that you say.

    Re the magazine capacity ban: The proposed legislation does nothing about the thousands (more likely millions) of hi-cap mags that are currently owned by the citizenry. Banning the sale of mags over 10 bullets will do nothing to prevent criminals or law-abiding citizens from acquiring them. It simply creates a black market for the sale of them.

    Re the “gun show loophole”: this is really the “private seller loophole” as a private seller is allowed – in some states, e.g. TN – to sell to another private purchaser a firearm without conducting a background check prior to the close of the transaction. Closing this “loophole” would do little good as many private sellers would simply circumvent the system and sell without the check knowing that the law is largely unenforcible. Statistics have shown that fewer than 2% of all firearm purchases at “gun shows” results in a criminal acquiring a firearm that is later used in a crime.

    I think it was said best by the father of a child that was killed at Sandy Hook, “the problem is not gun laws” and that current laws and regulations simply need to be enforced.

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  3. Matthew
    Jan 25, 2013 - 09:10 PM

    Adam:

    “When Jared Lee Loughner shot Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, he was able to fire 31 bullets in 15 seconds. It was only when he had to reload that bystanders wrestled the gun from him.”

    And while factual, it is not relevant. Why? Watch this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L09bRepKZUA

    That’s right Adam: If the sheriff had done his job, chances are this never would’ve happened because as a convicted felon, Loughner wouldn’t have been able to legally purchase the guns used in the first place. (And they WERE legally purchased.)

    Reply
  4. Trilby
    Jan 25, 2013 - 05:53 PM

    But do you see why knee-jerk responses are the only responses that ever get anything done? Every piece of safety legislation was written with the blood of miners. The mining industry is very astute at avoiding regulation, and the only time they can’t stop meaningful safety regulation is after the death of many miners due to unsafe working conditions.

    The same is true for a lot of other areas. Our Congress does not often just pass sensible regulation just because it’s a good idea to do so- it’s usually because outraged citizens demand they do so. Citizens aren’t normally outraged, but only after the failure of regulations has led to a disaster. If Congress waits, the outrage will die down, and they won’t act because the special interest (whether it be gun manufacturers, tobacco companies, or mining companies) will have their armies of lobbyists and money make sure nothing proactive happens.

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  5. Christopher Rushlau
    Jan 24, 2013 - 06:13 PM

    This round of anti-gun-ism (it’s a religious movement) stems from the Israel lobby’s fear that the Newtown shooting came close to homebase, forming a constellation with the Gifford shooting. You could see that thinking both by the President’s moving on the issue when otherwise he is paralyzed by the Israel movement and by the mobilizatin of “liberal” assets in support of this round of anti-gun-ism, like Nation Magazine.
    The “liberals” sort of deserve all the crap that’s dumped on them by the supposed conservatives by absolutely failing to call out the Israel lobby on genocide and racism counts. So “liberal” comes to be synonymous with “coward”, but, then again, so does “conservative”.

    Reply
  6. Jack Penland
    Jan 24, 2013 - 05:15 PM

    Codicil to my above comment: First, if a cartridge supply device is detachable from the weapon, it is properly called a magazine. Non-removable units such as are found on many sporting rifles are more correctly called “clips.” My opposition to limits on the size of magazines is much as you stated, it is a slippery slope. When has the government camel, once it has it’s nose under freedom’s tent, ever voluntarily backed off? Does never sound about right? The current Oligarchy ensconced in “Moscow-on-the-Potomac has become addicted to power for the sake of power. Most of the regulations that have the force of law that unnecessarily complicate our lives are not laws passed by Congress, but bureaucratic minutiae generated by apparatchiks anxious to justify their paycheck. We are a government not of the people, but of the bureaucracies. In short, anyone who expects efficiency, or more honesty or effort than is absolutely required is doomed to disappointment. I oppose giving ANY government more authority, because the more you empower government, the more you diminish the people it is supposed to serve, and the servant becomes the master.

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    • Sarge
      Jan 29, 2013 - 08:23 PM

      A magazine is “a container of ammo” whether it fits the rifle or not, i.e. a room full of ammo is a magazine. A clip is actually a method that charges the magazine inside the rifle and fits completely inside the rifle’s magazine, i.e. the M1 Garand. There are many other definitions of “clips” but they are all used to “charge” the magazine. If outside the weapon, they are called a magazine. In a hunting rifle the magazine is under the bolt and must be “hand-fed” one bullet at a time into the magazine. This could go on and on but you get the idea.

      Reply
  7. Jack Penland
    Jan 24, 2013 - 03:51 PM

    I disagree with your stance on universal background checks, as this is simply a prelude to a National Gun Registry. It seems to me that the 40% figure is highly inflated, but I am not certain. If you want gun control, you should start with the BATFE, whose incompetence and corruption is becoming legendary. Why should a government agency that has proven itself repeatedly to be untrustworthy be entrusted with potentially damaging information? They have wreaked enough havoc and trampled enough rights of honest people. I feel that in many cases, they are guilty of far worse crimes than the people they investigate, and under anti-gun administrations, they are given what amounts to a hunting license. I would feel more supportive of universal checks if they were performed by someone or something a little more non-political.

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