WEEK IN REVIEW
June 25 – June 29, 2018
Shooter in Annapolis, Maryland Takes Five Lives at Local Newspaper
Yesterday, a gunman walked into the Capital Gazette newsroom and opened fire using a pump-action shotgun. Five lives were lost and two more were injured in the attack. For too many times this year, news headlines read of the chaos and tragedies at our schools, communities, and businesses. Gabrielle Giffords had this to say regarding yesterday’s events in Maryland:
“Reporters shouldn’t have to hide from gunfire while doing their jobs. A summer intern in the newsroom shouldn’t have to tweet for help. We shouldn’t have to live in a country where our lawmakers refuse to take any action to address this uniquely American crisis that’s causing so much horror and heartbreak on what feels like a daily basis.
“This is not normal. Since the year began, there’ve been 179 days and already 155 mass shootings. Every day, more than 90 people are killed by a gun, from classrooms to newsrooms and neighborhoods across the country. We are facing a problem and we have to do something about it.
“Time and time again, those representing us in Congress have failed to show the courage we need to keep us safe. Bump stocks are still legal. Background checks are still not mandatory for all gun sales. Americans are demanding that their lawmakers pass effective laws that can protect our communities and stop dangerous people from accessing guns, but this Congress refuses to listen. We should be outraged. And we should be making plans to hold them accountable. I’m ready to stand with voters and make our voices heard loud and clear in November.”
LEADING THE NEWS
Retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy
United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced on June 27 that he would retire effective July 31, giving President Trump an opportunity to nominate a replacement justice.
Giffords prepared a memo on future discussion regarding Justice Kennedy’s replacement: Gun Policy Implications of Justice Kennedy’s Retirement.
An ideologically-motivated nominee, like several on the rumored shortlist, could negatively impact firearms policy at this critical moment for the gun safety movement—and for many years to come.
While applying Heller’s holding that individuals have a constitutional right to use a handgun for self-defense in the home, lower courts have generally exercised caution when confronting issues not yet addressed by the Supreme Court. This means some substantive Second Amendment questions lack definitive answers—and a new justice could play a key role in shaping the Court’s rulings on these and other areas of gun policy.
Peter Ambler, Executive Director of Giffords had this to say about the announcement:
“In recent months, the Trump Administration sat on its hands while Americans bravely rallied in favor of gun safety laws, proving the Administration still lets the National Rifle Association dictate firearm policy. Even more disturbingly, the NRA has coordinated efforts to influence the President’s lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary–and in some instances, they’ve succeeded, including with Justice Gorsuch, a radical choice the NRA spent $1 million to confirm. Justice Gorsuch has already said he would likely vote to strike down strong concealed carry permitting laws in California, a chilling prospect for public safety. If the NRA wields its clout to ensure that Justice Kennedy’s replacement is also intent on weakening gun laws, it could mean a radical shift on the Court that endangers the gun safety laws lower courts have nearly all upheld as consistent with the Second Amendment.”
Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Giffords Law Center:
“We have a responsibility to insist on a Supreme Court nominee who won’t be ideological, but will follow the growing judicial consensus that gun safety laws are constitutional and effective. In the next few months and years, the Supreme Court may have the opportunity to rule on important state laws like strong concealed carry permitting standards, minimum age laws, and assault weapon restrictions. As things stand today, there isn’t a partisan divide over these policies: judges appointed by both Republicans and Democrats have upheld them in court. But Justice Kennedy’s retirement raises grave concerns that the President will once again answer the NRA’s call to appoint a justice that will depart from the mainstream by striking down these and many other gun safety laws upheld by lower-court judges and supported by the public.”
Giffords Endorses Candidates for Congress
This week Giffords announced its endorsement of 33 incumbents as part of the organization’s #VoteCourage campaign, an effort to elect gun safety champions. Voters are calling for leaders , like the incumbents listed below, who will always put protecting the safety of our communities first, not themselves, and certainly not the gun lobby.
- Jared Huffman (CA-02)
- Mike Thompson (CA-05)
- Ami Bera (CA-07)
- Barbara Lee (CA-13)
- Jackie Speier (CA-14)
- Jimmy Panetta (CA-20)
- Salud Carbajal (CA-24)
- Julia Brownley (CA-26)
- Pete Aguilar (CA-31)
- Raul Ruiz (CA-36)
- Linda Sanchez (CA-38)
- Scott Peters (CA-52)
- Robin Kelly (IL-02)
- Mike Quigley (IL-05)
- Brad Schneider (IL-10)
- Cedric Richmond (LA-02)
- Anthony Brown (MD-04)
- Jamie Raskin (MD-08)
- Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05)
- Tom Suozzi (NY-03)
- Kathleen Rice (NY-04)
- Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08)
- Jerry Nadler (NY-10)
- Carolyn Maloney (NY-12)
- Eliot Engel (NY-16)
- Nita Lowey (NY-17)
- Brian Higgins (NY-26)
- Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01)
- Conor Lamb (PA-17)
- Sen. Ben Cardin (Maryland)
- Sen. Chris Murphy (Connecticut)
- Sen. Tim Kaine (Virginia)
- Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin)
Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, the ideological fulcrum of the high court whose support for gay rights culminated in his 2015 decision striking down state bans against same-sex marriage, is retiring at the pinnacle of his career. Kennedy’s retirement will leave a hole for President Donald Trump to fill smack in the middle of the deeply divided court, where all nine justices tend to vote the way the presidents who nominated them expected.
Dick Heller, a 76-year-old special police officer whose Supreme Court case changed the District’s gun laws a decade ago, arrives on Capitol Hill in style … Adam Skaggs, chief counsel for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that supports gun regulations, said the Heller decision wasn’t the victory the amendment’s enthusiasts make it out to be. Although Justice Antonin Scalia recognized gun ownership is an individual right, he also said that right was limited. “As a practical matter, Heller did not have the consequence of sweeping most American gun laws into the dustbin of history,” Skaggs said. “Its political, rhetorical and psychological impact shouldn’t be underestimated. In terms of being a turning point in which gun regulation is no longer possible in America, that would dramatically be overstating [its effect].”
With a bullet in her gut, her voice choked with pain, Dee Hill pleaded with the 911 dispatcher for help. “My husband accidentally shot me,” Hill, 75, of The Dalles, Ore., groaned on the May 16, 2015, call. “In the stomach, and he can’t talk, please …” … Federal law prohibits people who are not mentally competent to make their own decisions, including those with advanced dementia, from buying or owning firearms. But a mere diagnosis of dementia does not disqualify someone from owning a gun, said Lindsay Nichols, federal policy director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. If a gun owner were reluctant to give up his arsenal, his family would typically have to take him to court to evaluate competency … Eleven states have passed “red flag” gun laws that allow law enforcement or other state officials, and sometimes family members, to seek a court order to temporarily seize guns from people who pose a threat to themselves or others. Red flag bills have proliferated across the country since the Parkland shooting; six were passed this year and six more are pending.
Ikea has long been known as a massive one-stop warehouse for everything from assemble-it-yourself bunk beds to artificial potted plants to Swedish meatballs. On Monday, one child found something a little different at an Ikea store in Fishers, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis: a handgun inside a sofa. The firearm had apparently fallen into the cushions after its owner sat down on the couch, Sergeant Tom Weger of the Fishers Police Department told The Washington Post. “He sat down and somehow or another it became dislodged from his body and when he got up he didn’t realise that he was without it,” Weger said … Evaluating those same gun laws, the Giffords Law Centre to Prevent Gun Violence has given Indiana a “D-” grade, pointing out that in 2016, the state had the 18th highest rate of gun deaths per capita in the nation.
With Gary Ramey’s fledgling gunmaking business taking off in retail stores, he decided to start offering one of his handguns for sale on his website. That didn’t sit well with the company he used to process payments, and they informed him they were dropping his account. Another credit card processing firm told him the same thing: They wouldn’t do business with him. The reason? His business of making firearms violates their policies. In the wake of high-profile mass shootings, corporate America has been taking a stand against the firearms industry amid a lack of action by lawmakers on gun control. Payment processing firms are limiting transactions, Bank of America stopped providing financing to companies that make AR-style guns, and retailers like Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods imposed age restrictions on gun purchases.
Under the Radar
A teen who was the only student to walk out of his North Carolina high school during a national protest of gun violence is one of six who will share BET’s Humanitarian Award.
The award typically goes to one person. But this year, the network is honoring six people, whom it calls “humanitarian heroes.” Among them is 16-year-old Justin Blackman, the only student to walk out of Wilson Preparatory Academy on March 14. Students across the country walked out of classes that day, one month after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. When students left classes April 20 to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shootings, Blackman shared a photo showing dozens standing with him. Blackman will receive his award Sunday.
The Department of Public Safety on Monday announced the creation of a database to “prevent gun crime from occurring” in Utah. The Utah Crime Gun Intelligence Center will use resources from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to provide data and investigative leads to prevent gun-related crimes, according to a press release from the Department of Public Safety. The main focus of the center is to deliver “timely and actionable information” that focuses the efforts of all agencies into one in order to crack down on the “trigger pullers” throughout the state, the release says.
People who want to buy guns in the county will soon have to go through a longer waiting period than the three-day waiting period required by the state. The Alachua County Commission Tuesday morning passed an ordinance that requires a criminal history check and five-day waiting period on the sale of any firearm in Alachua County. The background check will delve into the criminal and history of a potential buyer and will be conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Before Tuesday, there was no Alachua County ordinance governing the sale of firearms. The county is one of a few jurisdictions in the state that have passed such ordinances in the wake of the Valentine’s Day mass shooting that left 17 students and school staff dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, said Commissioner Robert Hutchinson.
On Wednesday, Governor John Carney signed House Substitute 1 for HB 222 into law surrounded by members of the General Assembly of both parties, law enforcement, and advocates for gun safety. This legislation, sponsored by Representative David Bentz, allows a court to issue a lethal violence protection order in cases where a family member or law enforcement officer can show that the respondent poses a danger to self or others by owning, possessing, controlling, purchasing or receiving a firearm … “In response to demands from Americans to stop gun violence, lawmakers in states across the country are finding the courage to pass bills that can save lives,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords. “If we’re serious about saving lives, we must continue to be serious about giving families and law enforcement officials the tools they need to prevent people at risk of harming themselves or others from accessing guns. Leaders in Delaware understand this and it’s why they’ve worked tirelessly with gun prevention advocates to sign this legislation into law. I applaud Governor Carney and the Delaware legislature for demonstrating the courage to show Congress and the rest of the country how we can take responsible steps to help keep guns out of the hands of people who are experiencing a crisis.”
The Massachusetts Legislature on Thursday sent Gov. Charlie Baker a bill that would allow a family or household member to petition a judge to confiscate someone’s gun if the person poses a danger to themselves or others. “This bill, when it’s signed into law, will save lives, and that’s what it’s really all about,” said Rep. David Linsky, D-Natick, who sponsored an earlier version of the bill. The extreme risk protective order, or “red flag,” bill gained momentum after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, led to increased national activism on gun control. Alumni of the school where the shooting occurred lobbied for the bill at the Statehouse. The bill passed the House 131-15. Voting against it were two Democrats, 12 Republicans and one independent. The Senate passed the bill 36-1, with Sen. Dean Tran, R-Fitchburg, as the sole no vote. “This is not anything that changes Second Amendment rights,” said Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Stone Creem, D-Newton, a member of the committee that negotiated the final bill. “This is about licensing, when a license needs to be suspended because that person is a risk.” Baker has said conceptually he could support the bill, but he would not commit to signing it until he sees the final legislation.
A planned voter referendum aimed to regulate most semi-auto firearms in the state was dealt a blow by the Oregon Supreme Court on Wednesday. The initiative, IP 43, is backed by a trio of Portland-area religious leaders who planned to raise the more than 80,000 signatures needed to put the proposal on the ballot over the course of this weekend’s services. To do so, they needed the court to certify the controversial ballot language this week and green light the effort. The court instead said the language needed more work … A competing gun control referendum, a mandatory secure storage proposal backed by Giffords-allied advocates, threw in the towel last week over a similarly dim prospect even though the courts had given them the go-ahead to collect signatures, saying the drive would “almost certainly fail even with a large investment of resources and grassroots enthusiasm.”
Columbus must halt enforcement of its bump-stock ban and an ordinance that made carrying a gun while under disability a misdemeanor as a Franklin County court decides a lawsuit brought by gun rights groups. Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge David E. Cain granted a temporary restraining order Friday that was requested by Ohioans for Concealed Carry and the Buckeye Firearms Foundation. Those two groups sued the city last week, arguing that Columbus violated state pre-emption laws by banning bump stocks, which effectively convert semiautomatic firearms to full automatic fire, and instituted a misdemeanor violation for carrying a gun while under disability.
The legalization of medical marijuana comes with a big issue for Oklahoma’s gun owners. If you want to get medical marijuana, you can’t own or buy a gun. Federal law prohibits any person who is an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” from possessing firearms or ammunition. The law covers everything from owning, shipping, transporting or receiving any firearms or ammunition.
Alabama’s Governor Kay Ivey signed an executive order in May allowing school administrators to have access to guns in schools. The administrators will have to get approval from local authorities and go through training. Schools with no school resource officer are the only ones that will be allowed to participate in the program. Teachers will have access until the school receives a resource officer.
TOP SOCIAL MEDIA