Gun Control

  • July 7, 2016

    by Christopher Durocher

    *This post is part of the ACSblog Symposium on Policing and Race Relations

    Alton Sterling was murdered because he was selling CDs at a gas station and police thought he might have a gun. Louisiana law allows any person over the age of 17 to openly carry a firearm without a permit. Philando Castile was murdered during a traffic stop because he informed a police officer that he had a concealed carry permit and was, in fact, lawfully carrying a firearm. The National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun rights organization, has been silent on both murders.

    There is really no mystery in the NRA’s silence. Though it peddles an interpretation of the Second Amendment that provides an absolute right to carry nearly any gun, anywhere, anytime, that interpretation comes with a notable asterisk: under no circumstance should a person of color be allowed to own or carry a gun. In fact, much of the NRA’s appeal to its members is couched in the need for white gun owners to protect themselves from these dangerous others. The NRA’s pitch is premised on the idea that good, wholesome white people need guns to protect themselves from violent criminals who will invade their homes or accost them on the streets. The NRA is fomenting this white panic despite the fact that the U.S. is experiencing historically low rates of violent crime.

    In addition to its more official pronouncements, the NRA’s leadership seems incapable of disguising its racist id. NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre believes that to solve our gun violence problem we must get guns out of the hands of “thugs” by “direct(ing) every federal jurisdiction to round up every felon, drug dealer and gangbanger with a gun.” No need to limit the availability of illegal guns by closing the gun show and private seller loopholes or cracking down on strawman purchases—just throw more young black men in jail. NRA board member Ted Nugent, eschewing the subtly of LaPierre, has defended South African apartheid (explaining that “not all men are created equal”) and has called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel.” He’s also proven himself comfortable with casually using racial epithets and invoking anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

    The NRA’s racial appeals, hypocrisy and double standard on gun rights would be troubling enough, if that was as far as it went. Unfortunately, the NRA insists on using its political weight to oppose nearly all common sense measures to curtail the availability of firearms, whether through a more robust and comprehensive system of background checks or limits on the types of guns that can be sold. At the same time, it exploits its members’ fear of potential gun control measures to drive up firearm and ammunition sales, a service to the gun manufacturers for whom the NRA is a front. The result is a nation that has an estimated 357 million guns. That’s more guns than people. With less than five percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has somewhere between 35 and 50 percent of the civilian owned guns.

  • June 15, 2016

    by Jim Thompson

    In The New York TimesMatt Apuzzo and Eric Lichtblau consider proactive measures that could have prevented the recent shooting in Orlando, quoting ACS President Caroline Fredrickson who says, “I think the F.B.I. has an incredibly hard job, because this guy seems like a lone wolf. He was an American citizen born in the United States.”

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday rejected a challenge to the FCC’s Open Internet Order. In Huffington Post, Candace Clement discusses the importance of this decision. 

    The American Medical Association has announced that it is adopting a policy calling the epidemic of gun violence in America a “public health crisis,” reports Richard Gonzales at NPR

    Justin Miller at The American Prospect celebrates the building momentum behind local minimum wage hikes across the country, highlighting recent victories in California, North Carolina and Washington, D.C. 

  • June 14, 2016

    by Jim Thompson

    At The Hill, Jesse Byrnes discusses Vice President Joe Biden’s speech at the 2016 ACS National Convention. More press coverage of the convention is available here.

    In The New York Times, ACS Board member Adam Winkler urges lawmakers to pass legislation banning people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms.

    According to a study published by the New York University Law Review, “the Senate has never before transferred a president’s appointment power in comparable circumstances to an unknown successor,” says Adam Liptak in The New York Times.

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday upheld “net neutrality” rules that require Internet providers to treat all web traffic equally, reports The Chicago Tribune.  

  • January 15, 2016

    by Jim Thompson

    Harold Meyerson at The American Prospect warns against a future without public employee unions and urges progressives to both accept blame for the decline of unions and assume responsibility for preserving their viability.

    In Daily Kos, Public Justice Executive Director Paul Bland says that his law firm is filing a lawsuit challenging a blatantly unconstitutional North Carolina “ag-gag” law that seeks to punish whistleblowers who inform the public about improper conduct at factory farms.

    A federal judge further delayed a class-action lawsuit settlement involving over 7 million defective Remington rifles after both parties in the case said they need more time to develop a better plan for alerting the public to this dangerous defect, reports Scott Cohn at CNBC.

    A recent study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that “70 percent of guns seized in Mexico and traced by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) from 2009 to 2014 came from the U.S.,” highlighting the global consequences of America’s lax gun control laws, reports German Lopez at Vox.

    Lawrence NordenBrent Ferguson and Douglas Keith at The Brennan Center for Justice examine six closely divided decisions by the Roberts Supreme Court that drastically transformed the landscape of campaign finance in America, mostly for the worse.

  • January 8, 2016

    by Jim Thompson

    Ahead of Monday’s oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, Alana Semuels at The Atlantic explains how the controversial Supreme Court case could significantly impede unions’ fundraising abilities. A ruling in favor of the petitioners would uproot “the legal foundations of thousands of public-sector bargaining agreements, covering millions of workers providing all manner of public services,” reports the Editorial Board at The Nation.

    In an op-ed for the New York Times, President Barack Obama urges Americans to assume responsibility for bringing an end to the epidemic of gun violence plaguing the United States. Leading constitutional law scholars, including ACS Board members Elise BoddieErwin Chemerinsky and Adam Winkler, defend the constitutionality of his executive action in this letter.

    Elsewhere in The New York Times, ACS Board member Linda Greenhouse laments the haunting legacy of DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, a decision handed down by the Rehnquist Court that immunized the federal government from being held accountable for the well-being of individuals who were once under its care.

    Wendi C. Thomas and Frederick McKissack, Jr. at The American Prospect trace the development of the “Fight for 15” movement from a small battle waged by New York fast food workers and car washers into a national campaign for improved working conditions and wages.