Gun Control

  • February 22, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Christopher Wright Durocher, Senior Director of Policy and Program

    On Wednesday, February 14, seventeen people were killed and another fourteen were wounded in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The gunman allegedly used an AR-15 style semi-automatic assault rifle. The post below was originally published in June 2017—after an attack by a similarly armed gunman during practice for members of the GOP congressional baseball team—that discusses that availability of assault rifles, as well as responses to mass shootings. In addition, last October, ACSblog ran a post spotlighting a letter from 88 groups concerned with gun violence to state and federal lawmakers after the Las Vegas shooting, demanding action to address gun violence. With the 10th Anniversary of the landmark Second Amendment case District of Columbia v. Heller coming up this June and gun violence remaining a national crisis, ACS will continue to highlight this issue on the ACSblog and in our programming.

  • October 13, 2017

    by Christopher Wright Durocher, Director of Policy Development and Programming, ACS

    A coalition of 88 groups concerned with gun violence in the United States has released an open letter to the elected leaders of America, calling for meaningful legislative action in the wake of the shooting earlier this month in Las Vegas that left 59 people dead and more than 500 injured.

    The letter assails Congress for considering two bills that would liberalize gun regulations—one removing restrictions on the sale of firearm silencers and the other effectively nationalizing the most permissive state concealed carry permit laws through federal mandated reciprocity between states. Though the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its gun industry allies defend these measures as commonsense and necessary to meet Second Amendment principles, these bills go far beyond the protections of the Second Amendment the Supreme Court laid out in the seminal case District of Columbia v. Heller.

  • July 31, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Walter Smith, Executive Director, DC Appleseed for Law & Justice

    On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held by a 2-1 vote that the District's requirements for carrying a concealed handgun in public violate the Second Amendment. The District's law requires that a person applying for a license to carry a concealed gun must show either a "good reason to fear injury to [their] person or property" or "any other proper reason for carrying a pistol."

  • June 19, 2017

    by Christopher Wright Durocher

    Wednesday’s horrific shooting during a practice for members of the GOP congressional baseball team was an unnecessary reminder of the prevalence of gun violence in the U.S. The event was notable for its high-profile victims, including Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), a member of House’s Republican Leadership, but it was otherwise bleakly common—an average of 90 people die from gun violence each day and, by some counts, this was the 195 mass shooting of 2017 (the 196th mass shooting occurred hours later in San Francisco).

    The incident, which left five wounded, including a congressional aide, a lobbyist and two Capitol Police officers, was described by Breitbart with the headline “Man Opens Fire on Congressional Baseball Practice; Good Guy with Gun Shoots Back.” The “good guys with guns” narrative is an all too common trope we hear from the NRA and its allies after a high-profile shooting, particularly mass shootings. In 2012, a week after the Sandy Hook massacre left twenty-six dead, including twenty children, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” Since that time, this trope has been deployed in response to mass shootings to justify expanding gun availability and ownership and reducing or eliminating gun safety regulations. The only problem is that there’s no evidence that it’s true.

    The epidemiology of mass shootings is complicated and anything but straightforward. That said, there are some things we do know. A review of mass shootings between 2000 and 2012 published by the FBI reveals that the median response time for police is three minutes. Admittedly, three minutes is a long time when facing an armed assailant, and with the aid of high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic weapons, shooters are capable of inflicting grievous damage in such a short time. As Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), a witness to Wednesday’s attack, observed, “He had a rifle that was clearly meant for the job of taking people out, multiple casualties, and he had several rounds and magazines that he kept unloading and reloading.” 

  • 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.