Most Likely to…. Reduce Gun Violence

by heatherwhaley

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There is a book out called, Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis by Daniel W. Webster and Jon S. Vernick.  It came about through a symposium at the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  It begins with a startling statistic.  “On January 21, 2013, President Obama took the oath of office for his second term.  Unless we take action, during those four years some 48,000 Americans will be killed with guns.”

The authors explain their motivation thusly:

One month—to the hour—after the harrowing and unfathomable massacre of 20 children and 6 adults in a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school, Johns Hopkins University convened a summit that brought together preeminent researchers on gun violence from across the country and around the world. This was a moment when advocates, lobbyists, and politicians on both sides of the gun-control debate were beginning to mobilize and spar. In this unruly mix, Johns Hopkins seized the opportunity to discharge a critical role of research universities and provided principled scaffolding for the debate. We wanted to use the opportunity to cut through the din of the shrill and the incendiary, the rancorous and the baseless, and provide rigorous, research-based considerations of the most effective gun regulations and the appropriate balance between individual rights and civic obligation. 

So what did they find out?  Turns out, quite a lot.  They consulted the best research on the subject, compared what worked and what didn’t work in past policy.   It’s quite good.  I think a lot of people will be surprised that their recommendations are not already in place.  Most people don’t know that even if you have a restraining order against you, in some states you can not only keep the guns you have, but you can buy more.  If you’ve been convicted of stalking, you can buy a gun under current law in many states.  This is what we mean by COMMON SENSE GUN LAWS.  It’s unimaginable to me that our legislators are struggling with the idea of background checks for all gun sales.  They’re not even bothering with private sales – which means that I can buy any number of guns, and sell them privately to whomever I choose whether they be a gang member, terrorist, or depressed housewife, with no check whatsoever.  That doesn’t make sense.  I recommend you pick up a copy, but I have provided here the recommendations they put forth that are, “the most likely to reduce gun violence in the United States.”

Background Checks
Fix the background check system by doing the following:

  •  Establish a universal background check system, which would require a background check for all persons purchasing a firearm (with an exception for inheritance transfers).
  • Facilitate all sales through a federally licensed gun dealer. This would have the effect of mandating the same record keeping for all firearm transfers.
  • Increase the maximum amount of time for the FBI to complete a background check from 3 to 10 business days.
  • Require all firearm own ers to report the theft or loss of their firearm within 72 hours of becoming aware of its loss.
  • Subject even those persons who have a license to carry a firearm, permit to purchase, or other firearm permit to a background check when purchasing a firearm.

Prohibiting High-Risk Individuals from Purchasing Guns
Expand the conditions for firearm purchase:

  • Persons convicted of a violent misdemeanor would be prohibited from firearm purchase for a period of 15 years.
  • Persons who committed a violent crime as a juvenile would be prohibited from firearm purchase until 30 years of age.
  • Persons convicted of two or more crimes involving drugs or alcohol within a three-year period would be prohibited from firearm purchase for a period of 10 years.
  • Persons convicted of a single drug-trafficking offense would be prohibited from gun purchase.
  • Persons determined by a judge to be a gang member would be prohibited from gun purchase.
  • Establish a minimum of 21 years of age for handgun purchase or possession.
  • Persons who have violated a restraining order issued due to the threat of violence (including permanent, temporary and emergency) would be prohibited from purchasing firearms.
  • Persons with temporary restraining orders filed against them for violence or threats of violence would be prohibited from purchasing firearms.
  • Persons who have been convicted of misdemeanor stalking would be prohibited from purchasing firearms.

Mental Health

  • Focus federal restrictions on gun purchases by persons with serious mental illness on the dangerousness of the individual.
  • Fully fund federal incentives for states to provide information about disqualifying mental health conditions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for gun buyers.

Trafficking and Dealer Licensing

  • A permanent director for ATF should be appointed and confirmed.
  • ATF should be required to provide adequate resources to inspect and otherwise engage in oversight of federally licensed gun dealers.
  • Restrictions imposed under the Firearm Own ers’ Protection Act limiting ATF to one routine inspection of gun dealers per year should be repealed.
  • The provisions of the Firearm Own ers’ Protection Act which raise the evidentiary standard for prosecuting dealers who make unlawful sales should be repealed.
  • ATF should be granted authority to develop a range of sanctions for gun dealers who violate gun sales or other laws.
  • The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, providing gun dealers and manufacturers protection from tort liability, should be repealed.
  • Federal restrictions on access to firearms trace data, other than those associated with ongoing criminal investigations, should be repealed.
  • Federal law mandating reporting of multiple sales of handguns should be expanded to include long guns.
  • Adequate penalties are needed for violations of the above provisions.

Personalized Guns

  • Congress should provide financial incentives to states to mandate childproof or personalized guns.
  • The Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission should be granted authority to regulate the safety of firearms and ammunition as consumer products.

Assault Weapons

  • Ban the future sale of assault weapons, incorporating a more carefully crafted definition to reduce the risk—compared with the 1994 ban—that the law would be easily evaded.

High-Capacity Magazines

  • Ban the future sale and possession of large-capacity (greater than 10 rounds) ammunition magazines.

Research Funding

  • The federal government should provide funds to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute of Justice adequate to understand the causes and solutions of gun violence, commensurate with its impact on the public’s health and safety.
  • The Surgeon General of the United States should produce a regular report on the state of the problem of gun violence in America and progress toward solutions.
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