They are not afraid to speak out for victims and public safety. I was one of the speakers. I spoke about my own loss of a sister who was murdered 20 years ago. And what has happened since? Virtually nothing. The Brady Law was passed and enacted in 1993 but left a gaping hole allowing for private sellers to sell their wares without requiring background checks on the buyers. That has become a problem unanticipated at the time the law passed. Now private sellers have become more numerous and with large stores of guns- the same guns sold just one aisle over at a gun show- but without a background check. The Internet has provided a new market for gun sales with no background checks. Flea markets and other private sellers can do the same. Check out Armslist.com for just one example:
Since my sister was murdered, every state but one, Illinois, has passed a version of conceal and carry. Minnesota's laws allows guns into more places than many other states and was written with some large loopholes that are now being exposed in the flurry of media attention to our state's and nation's gun laws. If you think it's a good idea for domestic abusers, felons and others who were denied by local law enforcement to appeal the process and get their permit to carry a loaded gun in public anyway, raise your hand. Minnesota has a serious problem. From the article:The real numbers aren't known because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives does not track how many guns are sold online or how many of them are used in crimes. But gun control advocates suspect the market is large. Jon Lowy, director of the legal action project of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, says, "The last figure we have is 40 percent of gun sales take place without a background check. That figure is probably low, because it dates from before the advent of the thriving internet market. Today the internet provides a mechanism to facilitate countless private sales without a background check, no questions asked."Until April 2011, Armslist had operated largely under the radar, attracting attention only from gun enthusiasts. But that spring, Dmitry Smirnov brought the site its first widespread notice. Smirnov was a Russian immigrant living in British Columbia. As a foreigner, Sminrov, then 21, could not legally purchase a gun anywhere in the United States. (Canada's gun laws are even stricter.) But through Armslist, he connected with Benedict Ladera, a 31-year-old Seattle man who sold him a .40-caliber handgun outside a Washington casino. Ladera charged Smirnov an extra $200 because he couldn't prove he lived in the state. Smirnov then traveled to Illinois, and tracked down Jetka Vesel, 36, whom he'd had a brief relationship with after meeting her through an online gaming site a few years earlier. He'd been harassing her from afar ever since she broke up with him.Once in Illinois, Smirnov stuck a GPS tracker on Vesel's car and followed her for a few days before finally ambushing her as she came out of the Czechoslovak Heritage Museum, where she'd been volunteering. He shot her a dozen times. He turned himself in a few hours later, and pleaded guilty to the crime. Ladera was also prosecuted and sentenced to a year in prison.The Vesel case is not the only murder involving a weapon procured through Armslist. In Wisconsin in October, three days after his wife obtained a restraining order against him for domestic violence, Radcliffe Haughton purchased a gun from a private seller he contacted through Armslist, after posting a rather desperate ad on the site that read:.....
There's more in this article. I hope you will read the whole article. We need to fix these dangerous practices that the NRA lobbyists have managed to get written into our gun laws.Minnesotans with histories of assaults, weapons violations, domestic violence and narcotics offenses are regularly denied a permit to carry a loaded firearm because sheriffs consider them a threat to themselves or the public.Despite their backgrounds, many of them appeal. And win.Since 2003, at least 299 people deemed too dangerous or otherwise unfit for a gun-carry permit were able to obtain them on appeal to the sheriff or a judge, a Star Tribune analysis shows.In a system that prosecutors say is heavily weighted in favor of permit seekers, it's nearly impossible to find out why the denials are overturned. State law protects the privacy of gun owners, prohibiting law enforcement from releasing any data that could identify them -- even if they have criminal records.
There are fixes at state and national levels that will make us safer and free from gun violence. Check out, for example, this article, written by Republican David Frum, about things that can be done without legislation that make common sense:
The gun industry needs to account for its' practices and contribute to the safety of the public. Guns are designed to kill. It's even more important to require the industry to make changes because the product they sell contributes to the deaths and injuries of about 100,000 people a year in America. Something will be done in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting. Doing nothing is simply not an option. And things are getting done. In Colorado, for instance, the legislature has understood that simple measures can be passed to save lives and not interfere with legal gun owners' rights. New Mexico is on its' way to passing some reasonable gun laws as well. New York already passed laws to make sure military style weapons are not on their streets and more.Claims that homeowners often use guns for legitimate self-defense dwindle away on close examination.What the gun owner claims as self-defense often looks, on closer examination, more like trigger-happy recklessness. (...)As for guns in the home, Hemenway reports studies find that "(G)uns are used far more often in the home to intimidate and frighten intimates than to protect against intruders."These are facts about guns that are well-known to the social scientists who study gun injury but poorly understood by the general public. (...)Fifty years ago, Americans contended with similar public ignorance -- and similar industry misinformation -- about the hazards of cigarette smoking. The argument was settled by the famous surgeon general's report of 1964.Congress in the mid-1990s forbade the federal government to fund its own research into the health risks presented by guns. By now, however, enough research has been done by privately funded scholars that the surgeon general could write a report based on existing material. Such a report would surely reach the conclusion that a gun in the home greatly elevates risks of suicide, lethal accident and fatal domestic violence. The first step to changing gun policy is to change public attitudes about guns, as Americans previously changed their attitudes about tobacco and drunken driving.The surgeon general can lead that attitude change with more authority than any other public official.The second step that might be taken -- again without the need for any congressional vote -- is for the Senate to convene hearings into the practices of the gun industry analogous to those it convened into the tobacco industry in the 1990s. (...)U.S. gunmakers have never been required to answer these questions. But one Senate subcommittee chairman with subpoena powers could cast much needed light on an industry whose record makes the tobacco industry look a paragon of transparency and accountability in comparison.There's a gun agenda that need not depend on politics and that will not snatch a single weapon from any owner, whether law-abiding or not. If Congress stalls on the president's ambitious legislative schemes, the president should fall back on this Plan B to publicize what guns really do to those who carry them -- and what gunmakers do to their customers.
More states will follow. Minnesota will pass some laws as well. It is not easy for legislators to change their previous mode of thinking that the NRA lobbyists get their way and nothing can be done because of outcries about second amendment rights. After the Sandy Hook shooting, the light of day has been shed on the NRA leadership and its' unwillingness to consider any new gun laws unless they are the laws they want to make it easier for the wrong people to get guns. This has been backwards thinking for so many years that it's hard to transition to the idea that the NRA is actually a paper tiger and is only in existence to keep the gun industry flush with money. Other industries have had to change when public outcry and public safety are at stake, changing the conversation. The tobacco industry suffered from law suits for their ignoring of public health and safety in pushing their product. The car industry screamed that they couldn't possibly maintain their profits if requirements to install seat belts, air bags and the environmental regulations put in place for the sake of public health and safety were put in place. And today, because of those requirements and more than a few legal actions, we are all better off.
The NRA lobbyists, of course, got a measure put in place in Congress, against all common sense, to give the gun industry immunity from certain law suits:
No other industry has enjoyed such protection. Congress was afraid of the mythically powerful NRA back then. No more. The curtain has been lifted on the cozy and parasitic relationship between the NRA and the gun industry. Doing nothing is not an option. Enough is enough, as was the rallying cry at the rally in Minnesota yesterday. The public has had enough of our legislators and Congress members bowing down to the NRA lobbyists. The public is demanding action. Things are changing. The playing field is now in the process of leveling. Thanks to Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly's Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, money is coming from the side of the gun violence prevention side of the issue. This editorial in the Chicago Tribune highlights what is happening in the Chicago area:In 2005, when Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, granting the gun industry immunity in state and federal court from civil liability in most negligence and products liability actions, the National Rifle Assn. called passage "vitally important" and fought hard for it. Although there are exceptions in the law, it has been broadly interpreted to preclude most negligence lawsuits. The result is that — unlike the makers of chain saws, knives, automobiles, drugs, alcohol or even cigarettes — gun manufacturers and sellers have a lesser obligation to act with reasonable care for public safety.When Congress passed the legislation, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), the chief sponsor of the bill and, at the time, an NRA board member, stated that "this bill will not prevent a single victim from obtaining relief for wrongs done to them by anyone in the gun industry." In reality, several cases have been dismissed on the basis of the law, even when the gun dealers and manufacturers acted in a fashion that would qualify as negligent if it involved other products. Victims in these cases were denied the right to introduce evidence of negligence and seek justice.
So, to legislators and members of Congress who think they can avoid taking a stand on the issue of gun violence prevention, the message is loud and clear. The public lobby has spoken over the past many years and is speaking with a louder voice than ever. The public has had enough with scared politicians looking out for their own seats instead of standing for what's right. The thing is, taking a stand in favor of public safety is a winning vote, not a losing vote. We have all been fooled for way too long. The jig is up. Let's get to work and do the right thing. Enough is enough.Bloomberg is not interested merely in influencing a particular race. His spending is also about demonstrating to candidates across the country that the NRA is not the only group prepared to make an issue of gun control in political campaigns. It's about proving that being associated with the NRA can be a liability, not an asset. It's about creating a different political climate that could make sensible gun restrictions more achievable.Bloomberg and Co. could be on a fool's errand. Most voters may be focused on other issues, like jobs and the economy. The ads may backfire by creating sympathy for Halvorson, pushing pro-NRA voters into her column, generating resentment of big-spending groups from elsewhere or eliciting anti-Kelly spending by gun-rights PACs.