DC at Night

DC at Night

Friday, March 22, 2013

On Guns, Will Common Sense Prevail?

As governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy knows painfully well that the tragic killing rampage which claimed the lives of 20 5- and 6-year-old elementary students in his state last December changed the intensity of the national debate on gun control. The question, of course, is did that horrific incident create enough support to overcome steadfast NRA opposition to the enactment of reasonable gun restrictions designed to make Americans safer from gun violence.

Earlier this week, Malloy appeared at the Center for American Progress here in DC to outline highlights of a proposal he has submitted to lawmakers in his state for approval, a series of changes he says represents "a common sense approach" to make Connecticut a safer state.

Gov. Dannel Malloy
The cornerstone of the plan is universal background checks for all gun sales, a requirement that the NRA once supported but now opposes despite the fact that more than 90% of all Americans support the checks. "No weapon should change hands without a a background check," Malloy maintains.

He said his plan also would ban large capacity magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds, as well as restrictions to keep guns out of the hands of anyone convicted of a crime where force was used or threatened. There are several other provisions including ones that would call for safer gun storage. There is also one that would stop a person convicted of a drunk driving charge from owning a gun for a specified period of time. "You don't want someone to plead guilty to a DUI and then walk across the street and buy a gun," the governor said.

Malloy realizes there is no guarantee all his proposed measures will pass. For standing directly in the way, as it is in other states and at the national level, is the substantial, feared  power of the NRA.

"The NRA has been extremely effective and what we have in the United States is a system that doesn't work," Malloy said. "People make purposeful misleading statements about gun laws."

In the past, when there was a call for stricter gun control, lawmakers didn't act quickly and the moment for change passed. "The NRA has a lot of history in waiting. The NRA was even able to outwait their position (on universal gun checks)."

Malloy said actual statistics don't support the belief that guns make people safer. "In states where there are more guns in people's home, there are more suicides in those states," Malloy said. "We know that guns in houses put people in more danger, not less."

However, Malloy knows that unless the federal government tightens gun laws, a change that so far it has been reluctant to do, the situation in states will remain precarious. "For example, if you look at 95 as a highway that connects states that have very strong laws with states that have very weak laws, that still leaves states that have appropriate laws very dangerous. You can see what happens when guns from other states are brought into Connecticut."

He also knows that without changes, violent shootings will continue to claim lives. "It's going to happen" he said. "How many more malls will be shot up? How many more movie theaters will be shot up? How many more community colleges and schools will be shot up?"

The governor bristles when the idea of realistic restrictions is called an attack on the 2nd Amendment.
"We don't want to confiscate guns. What we're trying to say is that people who shouldn't have guns shouldn't have guns," he said.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
Malloy's appearance came on the same day the Center for American Progress called for President Barack Obama to remove all gun riders from his 2014 budget proposal. The appropriations riders, most initiated at the request of the NRA, limit federal authorities ability to regulate the firearms industry and fight gun-related crime. The Center contends that the riders:
  • limit the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco's ability to manage data in a modern, efficient manner and strips the agency of its ability to make independent decisions.
  • interfere with the disclosure and use of data crucial to law enforcement and gun-trafficking research
  • frustrate efforts to regulate and oversee firearms dealers and
  • stifle public research into gun-related injuries and deaths
"While the NRA's lobbyists claim to want to enforce the laws on the books, no organization has done more to inhibit law-enforcement functions of AFT than the National Rifle Association," says Arkadi Gerney, co-author of the Center's report on the gun riders.

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