Gun Control

  • October 27, 2015

    by Nanya Springer

    In The Atlantic, Rebecca J. Rosen writes that deferred-prosecution agreements, which were meant to give individual defendants a second chance, are now disproportionately used to protect corporations.

    Ben Wofford reports on a recent Politico Magazine survey that found urban and suburban city leaders are deeply concerned about gun violence and want stronger federal regulation of firearms.

    California has adopted a policy for reviewing inmate gender reassignment requests that could become a model for prison systems across the country, reports the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson.

    In the latest installment of The Atlantic’s symposium on Reconstruction, Annette Gordon-Reed discusses how white supremacist ideology in academia allowed Jim Crow policies to flourish.

  • October 23, 2015
    Guest Post

    by Stan Stojkovic, Dean and Professor, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

    A common perception is that police officers are uniformly in favor of gun control laws, especially laws that target criminals from possessing firearms. My experience of interacting and working with law enforcement professionals for more than  40 years has shown me that accepted general views of police officers are often times incorrect, or in some case, downright wrong.

    Policing is big in America: over 16,000 police agencies and 600,000 police officers and billions of dollars in federal, state and municipal expenditures. For many communities the cost of policing outstrips other public outlays – schools, road repair, health care, etc., yet the views of police are often misunderstood because we fail to place those views in the contexts in which they are generated.

    American policing has always been a home grown response to crime. The historian Sam Walker has documented how American criminal justice (including policing) has a uniquely distinctive side to it influenced by local notions of “popular justice.” Local communities matter in how police officers understand their jobs and how they deliver police services. Policing in Milwaukee, Wis. is not policing in Chicago, Ill., even though they are only 90 miles apart. In fact, in large cities policing is so variable police administrators have to respond in ways that are innovative and unique to local circumstances within their own communities.

    Police research has demonstrated the importance of environment and supervision in producing community acceptable outcomes among the officers who protect us every day. Police administrators know that policing differs by police district and as such one should expect police attitudes to be variable on just about any issue you can think of, and this includes the issue of gun control. Why would the police be any different than any other occupational group on any particular issue?

  • July 10, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    The New York Times features a debate over whether the Supreme Court has become too powerful.

    At The Atlantic, Russell Berman discusses how a bipartisan consensus in Congress could lead to meaningful reform of the criminal justice system.

    Andrew Prokop reports for Vox on the Florida Supreme Court ruling against partisan gerrymandering.

    At the blog for the Brennan Center for Justice, Walter Shapiro considers what gun control advocates can learn from South Carolina.

    Steven Mazie contends at The Economist’s Democracy in America blog that liberals may find themselves less satisfied with Supreme Court rulings next term. 

    Fili Sagapolutele and Jennifer Sinco Kelleher report for the Associated Press that American Samoa is holding out against the Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling.

  • July 9, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    In The New York Times, ACS Board member Linda Greenhouse argues that the Supreme Court has not taken a liberal turn this year.

    Andrew Pincus explains the next challenge to President Obama’s executive action on immigration at Talking Points Memo.

    David A. Graham reports for The Atlantic that the Baltimore Mayor has fired the city’s police commissioner.

    At The New Yorker, Amy Davidson considers what Dred Scott has to do with the decision in the marriage equality case.

    Frank Norris reports for NPR that a settlement in a Kansas lawsuit will create a new standard for gun seller liability for dealers who sidestep mandatory background checks.

  • May 18, 2015
    Guns Across America
    Reconciling Gun Rules and Rights
    Robert J. Spitzer

    by Robert J. Spitzer. He is the Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at SUNY Cortland. Spitzer is the author most recently of Guns Across America: Reconciling Gun Rules and Rights, published by Oxford University Press.

    The contemporary American gun debate has been cast as a battle between two opposing, mutually exclusive principles: gun laws and gun rights. The struggle between these two is invariably portrayed as a zero-sum game—that the gain of one is a loss for the other. Yet our own history tells a different story, one that contains at least two important lessons. The first is that, throughout most of American history, gun rights and gun laws existed hand in hand. The second is that, in many respects, guns were more heavily regulated in our country’s first 300 years than in the last thirty years.

    While gun ownership is as old as America, so are gun laws. Early gun laws covered every imaginable type of regulation, even including registration and outright gun bans. In fact, the first “gun grabbers” were not 1960’s Chablis-drinking liberals, but rum-guzzling pioneers of the 1600s. Early gun laws restricted gun ownership and possession to Native Americans, slaves, indentured servants, vagrants, non-Protestants, those who refused to swear an oath of loyalty to the government, felons, foreigners and numerous recreational restrictions. Early laws also regulated the manufacture, inspection, and sale of firearms, as well as gun storage and discharge restrictions. Others prohibited not only the firing of firearms in or near towns, but firing after dark, on Sundays, in public places, near roads and bridges or while under the influence of alcohol.

    Among the earliest and most prolific laws were those restricting or barring the carrying of concealed weapons (these restrictions typically applied to pistols as well as certain types of knives). As early as 1686, New Jersey barred the wearing of concealable weapons in public because, according to the law, “it induced great Fear and Quarrels.” In 1837, Georgia made it illegal “to sell. . .or to keep or have about their persons” pistols or other listed weapons. The restriction applied both to merchants and private citizens, and its stated purpose was “to guard and protect the citizens of this State against the unwarrantable and too prevalent use of deadly weapons.” By the end of the 18th century, four states had enacted gun carry restrictions. In the 19th century, 37 states did so and another four states followed suit in the early 20th century.