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Tag: gun laws

Polls: Big Majority Wants Gun Safety Measures Opposed By GOP

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Congressional Republicans are slamming President Joe Biden's recent executive actions on gun control in the wake of two mass shootings as unnecessary and counterproductive, and claim further restrictions on ownership are not the answer to gun violence.

A new poll by Morning Consult/Politico shows that most Americans feel differently.

"Limiting the ability for any law-abiding American to buy a gun will not make America safer," tweeted Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) this week.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) wrote in a tweet Sunday, "It's clear Democrat guncontrol laws don't work. Just look at the cities they control. If violent crime were down in places like Chicago, Portland and D.C., we might entertain their logic. Their failed policies don't prevent violence or protect our communities."

Studies have in fact demonstrated repeatedly that states and countries that enact stricter gun control experience fewer deaths by gun violence.

Senate Republicans like Sen. John Hoeven (R-WI), Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) also criticized the Biden administration's efforts at curbing gun violence through stronger legislation, claiming such efforts are misguided and won't work.

A new Morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday morning indicates that most Americans disagree.

Polling indicated that 64 percent of registered American voters are in favor of stricter gun control legislation, while only 28 percent actively oppose such legislation.

Eighty-three percent of those polled also said they supported expanded background checks that apply to every single gun sale. Similarly, more than 80 percent supported prohibiting the sale of guns to those medical providers have declared too medically or psychologically unstable for ownership.

Some 73 percent of respondents supported a three-day waiting period for buying a gun, while 70 percent were in favor of implementing a national database to track gun sales. And 76 percent expressed approval for prohibiting individuals on federal watch lists from gun ownership.

Biden recently signed several executive orders directing further gun control measures after a gunman opened fire at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, on March 22, leaving 10 people dead. That attack took place just days after a white gunman killed eight individuals, including six Asian American women, at several Atlanta-area spas on March 16.

Bide placed specific focus on "ghost guns," or guns assembled from kits without serial numbers, and so-called red flag laws, which allow courts to ban firearms for individuals who have demonstrated they may be a danger to themselves or other people.

Biden also urged Congress just after the Atlanta-area shootings to implement an assault weapons ban.

"Gun violence in this country is an epidemic and it is an international embarrassment," Biden said, speaking at the White House on April 8.

Republicans were outraged at the move, with Hoeven writing in a statement responding to the President, "Infringing on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens will not prevent violence."

Several gun control bills passed the House in March but are likely to meet challenges in the Senate, where they would need the support of at least 10 Senate Republicans in order to pass. These include the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, which would require that, in the event of a gun transfer between two unlicensed individuals, a third-party seller, dealer, importer, or manufacturer to temporarily withhold the gun until a background check on the buyer is complete.

H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, also passed the House in March. This legislation would close the loophole that allowed white supremacist Dylann Roof to unlawfully procure a gun and kill nine Black Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The current loophole states that if the FBI does not complete a background check within three days, the gun transfer can still go forward — which it did in Roof's case, though he would have failed a background check.

Republicans are also objecting to David Chipman, Biden's nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who has a history of supporting some gun control measures.

"David Chipman is a gun grabber who believes in wild conspiracies. He should not be confirmed to run the ATF," tweeted Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).

A separate USA Today/Ipsos poll found that three-quarters of Americans support tougher gun control legislation, though, among Republicans, that figure drops to just 12 percent — a decline of 20 percentage points from Republicans' stance on the issue in similar surveys back in 2019.

Ipsos President Cliff Young told USA Today, "This is much more about a shift in the Republican base, and their leadership, than about the issue itself."

"In these highly tribalized times, cues from leadership become especially important in how the public forms their stance around issues," he added. "The partisan cuing around gun reforms has changed among Republican leadership, and the Republican base has followed suit."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundatio

In Darkest Arkansas, Zealots Cruelly Overrule A Conservative Governor

How can somebody like me possibly live in darkest Arkansas, well-meaning correspondents sometimes want to know. And when the state legislature is in session, I do sometimes wonder. All I can say is that I'm glad Arkansas is a state, not a country. Because I'm stuck on the place, mostly for personal reasons having nothing to do with politics.

"Thank God for Mississippi," people here used to say, on the grounds that our neighbor to the east had an even more embarrassing history.

Of course if Arkansas legislators didn't have the federal courts to hide behind, they might be forced to act like adults instead of staging a spectacle for the backwoods churches. Because that's all it is: a political puppet show. It's the fundamental unseriousness of right-wing culture war posturing that astonishes: taking militant stands against imaginary threats and passing laws that have no chance of passing constitutional muster.

And it's happening all over the South and rural Midwest. Anywhere white rural voters predominate, it's the same story.

The Arkansas legislature has outdone itself this year, prompting even mild-mannered Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto a particularly mean-spirited piece of legislation forbidding medical treatment to transgendered adolescents—and never mind their doctors and parents. "The Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act," they call it.

Hutchinson's no liberal. For example, he'd previously signed a bill forbidding transgendered girls from competing in girl's high school sports—a situation that has arisen in the state exactly never. Right-wing imagineers envision a mortal threat to women's athletics everywhere.

Meanwhile, the University of Arkansas fields nationally-ranked teams in women's basketball, softball, and other sports. World class identical twin pole vaulters recently graduated from the Fayetteville campus and began pharmacy school while continuing to train—a veritable wonder to behold.

But that's mere reality, of little interest to zealots.

The governor also signed a law allowing health care professionals to refuse treatment to any patient whose real or suspected sexual proclivities they disapprove of. Something else that is going to happen rarely, if ever, in real life. Arkansas doctors do subscribe to the Hippocratic Oath.

Gov. Hutchinson called the bill forbidding treatment to transgendered youth both cruel and unnecessary. Possibly he has a close friend or relative with a child of ambiguous gender. That's often all it takes to make people act decently. He told a reporter for the New York Times that fellow Republicans too often acted "out of fear of what could happen, or what our imagination says might happen, versus something that's real and tangible."

Yes, exactly.

Hutchinson's was a futile political gesture. Arkansas governors have no real veto power. It requires only a majority vote to overturn them, which the legislature did within 24 hours by three to one. The Arkansas ACLU has vowed to challenge the law in federal court. (The bill also says that insurance companies can refuse to cover such treatments in adult patients.)

Elsewhere, it's been one bill after another aimed directly at federal courts. In March, Arkansas passed a near-total abortion ban. Gov. Hutchinson told reporters he'd have preferred a law that made exceptions for rape and incest, which the new law doesn't. Nor for fetal anomalies.

In short, if a 14 year old girl is impregnated by her drunk uncle (insert hillbilly joke here) she must carry even a gravely deformed fetus to term regardless. The penalty is ten years in prison.

Appearing with CNN's Dana Bash on State of the Union, Hutchinson admitted that the new law "is not constitutional under Supreme Court cases right now. I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade…I think there's a very narrow chance that the Supreme Court will accept that case, but we'll see."

Elsewhere, Arkansas legislators have declared all federal gun laws null and void within the state, a direct challenge to the Constitution's Supremacy Clause that is absolutely certain to fail. Serious gun nuts don't care. They don't expect to win. They just want their collective amygdala massaged—the fight or flight organ buried deep in the limbic brain.

Pretty much the reason they're gun nuts to begin with.

Which is closely-related to the reason the legislature brought Biblical Creationism back, mandating a law permitting fundamentalist theology to be taught in public school science classes. This one I take personally, as I covered the 1981 trial in Little Rock federal court over the "Balanced Treatment of Creation-Science and Evolution Science Act" when eminent scientists like Stephen Jay Gould convinced federal judge William Overton that the Arkansas law represented an unconstitutional "establishment of religion."

Same as it ever was.

Look, it's pretty basic. A large proportion of America's rural, white folks lost it over Barack Obama, and they ain't come back yet. They thought Trump was going to return America to 1954, but now he's gone and they're still hiding out in the woods.

In Florida, Lawmakers Fight To Kill ‘Gun-Free’ Zones

Florida lawmakers convene this week in Tallahassee, an event traditionally kicked off by a barrage of wacko gun legislation.

This year, some of it actually stands a chance of passing.

The worst by far is a bill filed in both the House and Senate that would eliminate all “gun-free” zones in the state. If passed, persons with concealed-weapons permits would be able to carry firearms to pro sports events, bars, police stations, K-12 public schools, public colleges and universities, courthouses, polling places, government meetings, seaports, and airport passenger terminals.

To single out just one of the many pathways to random bloodshed, Republican lawmakers seem determined to make handguns accessible wherever mass quantities of alcohol are being consumed.

What would normally be a sloppy fistfight in the stands at a Dolphins game could literally be a .45-caliber shootout next season. And if you think campus keg parties aren’t lively enough, throw a couple of loaded Glocks into the mix.

Polls show widespread opposition to abolishing gun-free zones, a view shared by college officials, business leaders, and many in law enforcement.

But the politicians pushing for more firearms in public are serving a higher master: the NRA.

Its unabashed darling in the Senate is mild-mannered Dennis Baxley, who is, fittingly, an undertaker by trade. His Ocala funeral parlor could see an uptick in business if guns are allowed in bars.

On the House side, Speaker Richard Corcoran insists criminals and mass shooters are attracted to gun-free zones because they know civilians there won’t be armed. Lawmakers say the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando and the shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport might have been prevented if the victims had been carrying weapons.

This Charles Bronson fantasy is avidly promoted by the NRA. It relies on the false premise that anyone with a concealed-weapons permit is both calm enough and skilled enough to fire a handgun in crowded mayhem and actually hit the right person.

The airport mass shooting, committed by an unhinged legal gun owner, took less than 90 seconds. The victims, some on their way to meet a cruise ship, had just gotten off a Delta flight.

Even if any of them had brought a weapon, it would have been packed inside their checked luggage, as was the shooter’s semiautomatic Walther. The killing was over before many of the bags landed on the carousel.

So much for the Bronson scenario.

It took an army of cops to bring down the Pulse shooter (another licensed gun owner), yet we’re supposed to believe he could have been taken out by a single armed club patron, pointing a handgun in dimly lit clamor at a fast-moving assailant firing an assault rifle.

Well, maybe in the movies.

NRA-backed lawmakers won key committee assignments in the new Legislature, which means that several of this session’s bad gun laws have a better-than-usual chance of passing.

One such bill, opposed by prosecutors, makes it easier for shooters to claim a Stand Your Ground defense. It resurfaces now, as a retired Tampa police captain is on trial for fatally shooting a man during a confrontation in a movie theater.

The victim was armed with a bag of popcorn and a cell phone.

Even if the state’s gun-free zones are abolished, companies and private business owners can’t legally be required to allow customers with weapons on their property. Never fear — one GOP senator has a devious compliance tactic.

Sen. Greg Steube of Bradenton, a favorite pet of the NRA, has filed a bill aimed to punish the many retailers, restaurants, nightclubs, theme parks, movie theaters and other businesses that prohibit firearms. Among the big names potentially affected would be Disney, Costco, and Whole Foods.

Steube’s measure would allow anyone holding a concealed-weapons permit to sue a gun-banning establishment if he or she gets shot, or otherwise assaulted, on the premises. The legal claim would be that they could have protected themselves had they been armed.

It’s a tort lawyer’s dream. If your drunken stepbrother sneaks a stolen pistol into a bar and shoots you in the ass, you get to sue the bar because you were deprived of the chance to shoot him first.

That scenario fits Will Ferrell better than Charles Bronson, but it’s closer to reality than the NRA can ever admit.

Texas Professors Ask U.S. Court To Ban Guns In Their Classrooms

Three University of Texas professors asked a U.S. judge on Thursday to give them the option of barring students from bringing guns into their classroom after the state gave some students that right under a law then went into effect this week.

The professors said academic freedom could be chilled under the so-called campus carry law backed by the state’s Republican political leaders that allows concealed handgun license holders 21 and over to bring handguns into classrooms and other university facilities.

“They don’t fear, they know that the presence of guns in their classrooms… would squelch (academic) discussions,” Renea Hicks, a lawyer for the professors told U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel.

The lawsuit is seeking a preliminary injunction to halt guns in the classrooms of professors Jennifer Lynn Glass, Lisa Moore and Mia Carter ahead of the start of classes later this month.

Anna Mackin, an attorney for the university, told the judge that if the professors banned guns in their classroom, they would be violating state law, and could be disciplined or terminated.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican and a defendant in the suit, filed papers to halt the injunction, calling the professors‘ case a “frivolous lawsuit.”

“There is no legal justification to deny licensed, law-abiding citizens on campus the same measure of personal protection they are entitled to elsewhere in Texas,” Paxton said in a statement this week.

Lawyers for the professors said they expect a decision before Aug. 24.

The professors argue they discus emotionally laden subjects such as reproductive rights, and it would be inevitable for them to alter their classroom presentations because of potential gun violence.

The law took effect on Aug. 1 as the University of Texas held a memorial to mark the 50th anniversary of one of the deadliest U.S. gun incidents on a college campus.

On Aug. 1 1966, student Charles Whitman killed 16 people in a rampage, firing from a perch atop the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin, the state’s flagship public university.

Republican lawmakers said campus carry could help prevent a mass shooting.

University of Texas professors lobbied unsuccessfully to prevent the campus carry law, arguing the combination of youth, firearms and college life could make for a deadly situation.

Eight states have provisions allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on public postsecondary campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state laws.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Photo: Derek Key via Flickr

Altering Gun Laws Isn’t An Absolute Answer, But It’s Change Within Our Control

What made a young couple walk into a health facility and start shooting people? It wasn’t our gun laws. It wasn’t the easy ability to purchase a weapon in this country.

If such things made people killers, all Americans would be killers. In that narrow way, gun advocates who bristle at any change after the San Bernardino killings are right.

No one makes you pull a trigger.

But if you stop the argument there, you’re being naive — as naive as saying no one makes you abuse drugs, no one forces you to drink and drive, no one tells you to give your money to phony investment advisors. Yet we have laws regarding all those things.

Laws, smartly written, address the dangers facing a society. The item in question should be less important than the threat.

But our biggest gun law was written 224 years ago, and it remains mostly about that — guns, and the ownership of them. It’s not about bad behavior, murderous thoughts or anything else that guns frequently exacerbate. We have been arguing over this law, the Second Amendment, for centuries.

But we don’t touch it. Because it’s part of our Constitution. Because it’s cherished by many. And because, supporters argue, it’s not the law that makes people put on vests, drop their baby at a relative’s house, then go on a mass murder spree and die.

That’s a sick mind.

And you can’t legislate against a sick mind.

Recently, the New York Times ran its first front page editorial in nearly 100 years. It called for the end of the “gun epidemic.” Before that, the New York Daily News, in criticizing lawmakers who offered prayers for victims but no new legislation, ran the headline “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS.”

Naturally, both papers were buried in insults, dismissed as “typical liberals,” and argued against with an avalanche of selected facts and figures that make the case for doing nothing — or for arming more Americans, not fewer. President Obama, calling for tougher gun laws, was shouted down by a well-practiced chorus of critics, who cynically noted, “How’s it working for Paris?”

But being loud and being right are two different things. It’s always easier to scream against change than to create it. Especially since what change would be 100 percent effective? If we banned every gun in the country, some criminals would still get their hands on them, or use bombs instead, etc.

But is that a reason to watch the next whacked out fundamentalist go freely into a U.S. gun shop, legally purchase guns designed for quick, multiple killings, then use them on fellow citizens to go out in a blaze of infamy?

Because you know it will happen again.

I don’t have a fast answer for this. Nor do I have the energy or stomach to argue with hate-spewing people who are so mesmerized by gun possession they won’t budge an inch. It’s pointless.

But I do take issue with those who refuse to accept that mass killings with assault weapons fall under the same category as a hunter wanting to go after ducks. Yes, we have had guns in this country since its inception, but we have not had other things: a media that sensationalizes violence on a global scale, a population that feels alienated, video entertainment that numbs you to murder and a Internet that can connect all these elements with warped minds that see death as a badge of honor.

I’m pretty sure if America in 1791 had IEDs, jihads and YouTube, our Second Amendment wouldn’t read the way it does. But we cling to words written 224 years ago in a world that changes by the blink. This fact remains: people without a previous criminal history can make their first bad deed a doozy with legally purchased American guns, and killing them once they do only speeds up what many of them hope for: a sensationalized death. This is not limited to Islamic fundamentalists. Mass shootings in Colorado Springs (three dead), Oregon (nine dead) and Charleston, S.C. (nine dead) — all in the last six months — had nothing to do with Islam.

We can leave gun laws untouched, but something else will eventually give: maybe surveillance on every home and business; metal detectors on every door frame; random interrogations, sweeping immigration reform, airborne snipers, rounding up of particular religions. All things that will make America look a lot less like America than if its people were a little less armed.

Our choice. But sick, murderous minds are here to stay. How easy we make it for them is the only thing we can control.

(C) 2015 BY THE DETROIT FREE PRESS DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Photo: Handguns are seen for sale in a display case at Metro Shooting Supplies in Bridgeton, Missouri, November 13, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

Obama Meets With Gabrielle Giffords As Administration Looks To Tighten Gun Laws

By Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — As the White House seeks ways that President Barack Obama could legally tighten restrictions on gun ownership, including closure of the so-called gun show loophole, he met Friday with Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman severely wounded in a mass shooting in Tucson in 2011 in which six people were killed.

The meeting with Giffords and her husband, NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, who advocate for tougher gun safety laws, was part of the Obama administration’s ongoing dialogue “with those who share the president’s passion for taking some common-sense steps to make it harder for those with bad intentions to get their hands on guns,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

“The administration has worked closely with some of these outside groups to amplify the call of people across the country, so that members of Congress can be responsive to those public priorities,” Earnest added.

Obama renewed his push for tighter gun control after the mass shooting at a community college in Oregon in October that killed nine, as well as the gunman. Earnest said Friday that administration officials “have cast a wide net” in exploring possible actions the president could take in using executive authority to limit access to guns, but he declined to specify what was being considered and how soon Obama might announce any plan.

The leading proposal under consideration, according to White House officials, is a reinterpretation of existing law to require all or most people trying to buy guns to submit to background checks. Licensed firearms dealers must conduct background checks, but those who make “occasional sales” are exempt from the requirement, including sales at gun shows.

Such background checks might not have altered the path taken by the shooters behind Wednesday’s massacre in San Bernardino, Calif. Federal officials have concluded that Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the two assailants, legally bought two of the weapons, and two others were likewise legally purchased and given to him by a friend.

The idea for tighter background checks was one of several suggested by gun safety advocates in the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., three years ago this month, though it wasn’t part of final recommendations by Vice President Joe Biden, who led the White House effort to restrict access to guns.

“I don’t know if they felt they didn’t want to do it or couldn’t do it for legal reasons,” said Jim Kessler of the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, who was in regular consultations with the administration during the deliberations. “It just didn’t happen.”

A bill to strengthen the background check system died in the Senate a few months after the Newtown rampage.

On Friday, Earnest blasted Senate Republicans who voted a day earlier to block several gun-related measures that Democrats had offered as amendments to a health care bill, including the bipartisan background check proposal that also failed to pass in 2013.

With their votes, Republicans “stood up once again with the (National Rifle Association) and in the face of common sense,” Earnest said.

Obama’s meeting with Americans for Responsible Solutions, which was not on his publicly released schedule, came on a day when he otherwise stayed out of the public eye.

The FBI announced Friday that it was investigating the shooting rampage in San Bernardino as an act of terrorism.

In comments to reporters before the FBI announcement, Earnest declined to comment on reports that Tashfeen Malik, who died in a police shootout after she and Farook, her husband, killed 14 at a holiday party for the San Bernardino County Health Department, had pledged allegiance to Islamic State on Facebook.

©2015 Tribune Co. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

File photo: Chesterfield County Sheriff’s lieutenant David Lee removes rifles from a shipping container as he and other officers sort through thousands of guns found in the home and garage of Brent Nicholson, in Pageland, South Carolina, November 10, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Miczek

Guns On Campus: Not An Agenda For Women’s Safety

Allowing guns on campus won’t reduce sexual assault on campus — instead, it will increase the risk of homicide.

Two years ago, Republican leaders released a post-mortem analysis of the 2012 election in an effort to better understand how they lost the single women’s vote by 36 percent. The 100-page report recommended that GOP lawmakers do a better job listening to female voters, remind them of the party’s “historical role in advancing the women’s rights movement,” and fight against the “so-called War on Women.” Look no further than recent GOP-led efforts to expand gun rights on college campuses under the guise of preventing campus sexual assault for evidence that conservative lawmakers have failed to take their own advice.

Today, lawmakers in at least 14 states are pushing forward measures that would loosen gun regulations on college campuses. In the last few days, a number of them have seized upon the growing public outcry over campus sexual assault to argue that carrying a gun would prevent women from being raped. (So far they’ve been silent on how we might prevent young men – who, of course, would also be allowed to carry a gun – from attempting to rape women in the first place.)

Republican assemblywoman Michele Fiore of Nevada recently told The New York Times: “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them? The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.” (Really? Hot little girls?) And as the Times highlighted, Florida representative Dennis Baxley jumped on the “stop campus rape” bandwagon recently when he successfully lobbied for a bill that would allow students to carry loaded, concealed weapons. “If you’ve got a person that’s raped because you wouldn’t let them carry a firearm to defend themselves, I think you’re responsible,” he said.

Let’s be clear. People aren’t raped because they aren’t carrying firearms. They are raped because someone rapes them. What a sinister new twist on victim blaming. As if anything positive could come from adding loaded weapons to the already toxic mix of drugs, alcohol, masculine groupthink, and the rape culture endemic in college sports and Greek life on campuses around the country.

These lawmakers have appropriated the battle cry of students who are demanding more accountability from academic institutions to prevent and respond to campus sexual assault. It’s a vain attempt to advance their own conservative agenda of liberalizing gun laws. This is an NRA agenda, not a women’s rights agenda. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, each of the lawmakers who have supported such legislation has received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA). They have enjoyed endorsements from the NRA during election years and some – including Fiore and Baxley – received campaign contributions from the organization.

These lawmakers are pointing to the demands of a handful of women who have survived sexual assault and are advocating for liberalized campus gun laws. The experiences of these students are real and deserve to be heard and considered as we debate how to make campuses safer. We must also recognize that these students are outliers. Surveys have shown that nearly 80 percent of college students say they would not feel safe if guns were allowed on campus, and according to the Times, 86 percent of women said they were opposed to having weapons on campus. And for good reason.

Research shows that guns do not make women safer. In fact, just the opposite is true. Over the past 25 years, guns have accounted for more intimate partner homicides than all other weapons combined. In states that that require a background check for every handgun sale, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent. And women in the United States are 11 times more likely than women from other high-income countries to be murdered with a gun. Guns on college campuses would only make these statistics worse.

If the GOP wants to show they care about women – or at the very least care about their votes – this is just one of the realities they need to acknowledge. And they need to listen to the experiences of all women who have experienced sexual assault – like those who have created the powerful Know Your IX campaign – not just those who will help advance their NRA-sponsored agenda.

Andrea Flynn is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. Follow her on Twitter @dreaflynn.

Cross-posted from the Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal blog.

The Roosevelt Institute is a non-profit organization devoted to carrying forward the legacy and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Photo: Keary O. via Flickr

 

 

Lawmakers Cooking Up Recipe For A Bloodbath

The very first bill being rammed through the Florida House of Representatives this year would allow guns to be carried on college campuses.

This screwball idea comes from Rep. Greg Steube, a young Republican from Sarasota. Remember his name in case he’s ever daft enough to run for statewide office.

In the macho comic-book world where Steube’s imagination dwells, armed college kids will stand ready to whip their pistols out of their book bags and shoot down crazed campus intruders with flawless aim.

This delusion has been nurtured by the National Rifle Association, which owns so many stooges in the Legislature that a dozen others would have been thrilled to introduce the campus gun bill, if Steube had balked.

Florida is currently one of 20 states that prohibit concealed weapons on university property, the wisdom being that firearms don’t belong in college classrooms, football stadiums or booze-soaked frat houses.

Most of the remaining states allow universities and colleges to decide their own firearms policies, and — no surprise — the vast majority of institutions don’t allow anyone but police officers to carry guns on campus.

Seven states do, thanks to the NRA. Florida is next on its list.

If Steube’s bill passes, it would open the way for firearms to be carried at private colleges as well as public universities, although each private school would be able to implement its own weapons ban.

Steube said he was working on his guns-at-college bill before the Nov. 20 shooting at Florida State University, where a mentally disturbed alumnus named Myron May shot and wounded two students and an employee at the school library.

Police arrived within minutes and killed May. Steube has speculated that an armed undergrad might have been able to drop him even quicker.

Or missed the shot completely and hit a bystander by mistake, which sometimes happens even when experienced police officers are pulling the triggers.

“School safety has always been the paramount issue I’ve dealt with,” said Steube, dead serious.

He’s eager to point out that only students with concealed-weapons permits would be allowed to pack heat. “These are 21-year-old adults who have gone through background checks, who have gone through training, who do not have a criminal record.”

Well, that certainly should reassure all worried parents, because 21 is the age of instant responsibility and maturity. Binge drinking, all-night partying, fighting — all that magically ends on a person’s 21st birthday, right?

And just because they lose their car keys now and then doesn’t mean they’d ever misplace a loaded Glock, or leave it out where their roommate could take it. You might wonder if Steube has ever set foot on a college campus. In fact, he has.

He graduated from the University of Florida, and stayed to get a law degree. During all that time in Gainesville he must have encountered at least a few fellow students who were unstable, angry, depressed, or battling drug and alcohol abuse.

In other words, troubled young men and women who shouldn’t be sitting in a classroom (or anywhere else) with a loaded weapon.

This would be a nightmare scenario for families who’ve sent their kids off to college believing they’ll be safe, at least while they’ve got a book in their hands. It’s also a nightmare scenario for teachers and professors, who’d be left to assume that every student in every class is armed. Would you give any grade except an A+ to a sophomore with a semiautomatic?

Most student and faculty groups are appalled by Steube’s campus gun bill, for good reason. It’s a recipe for another bloodbath.

A House subcommittee endorsed the measure last week, each Republican on the panel voting yea under the hawkish eye of the NRA. Luckily, there are more sane and cautious voices in the Florida Senate, where a similar piece of nutball legislation was snuffed four years ago.

At that time, John Thrasher, an influential Republican senator, opposed the push to put guns on college grounds. He had a friend whose daughter had been tragically killed in an accidental shooting at FSU.

Although Thrasher left the Senate last fall, he still has powerful friends in that chamber who pay attention to his opinion.

And they should, because Thrasher is now president of FSU. He started on the job 11 days before Myron May went to the library and started shooting.

The rampage didn’t change Thrasher’s mind about the danger of arming students. That’s because he lives in the real world, not the Bruce Willis fantasy inhabited by Steube and his reckless cohorts in the House.

Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers may write to him at: 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132.

Photo: kcdsTM via Flickr