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Gun Control Debate Heats Up

The American gun control debate shows no signs of slowing.

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This story has 9 updates

SACRAMENTO–

It has divided America for decades. Now Governor Brown must decide on whether to make California gun laws even tougher.

“He will make some people happy he will make some people angry. That is traditionally Jerry Brown,” said political analyst Gary Dietrich.

Dozens gathered at the Capitol steps urging Gov. Brown to sign all 14 gun control bills on his desk by Sunday’s deadline.

After a mass shooting in Newtown and more recently a Navy shipyard, gun control advocates say now is the time to act.

“California probably has the strongest gun prevention laws of all the states. When you look at the statistics they are still awful but our laws have prevented a lot of gun violence,” said Julie Schardt.

Among the crowd, a teacher who witnessed the 1989 shooting at Cleveland Elementary school in Stockton.

“We thought it was fireworks. Within minutes it was absolutely silent and wounded kids were coming in,” said Schardt.

Among the more controversial bills is one that bans all semiautomatic riffles with detachable magazines. But gun advocates argue such bills won’t stop crimes.

“Anything you do to make it more difficult to buy firearms and law abiding citizens to get guns you make it more difficult for them to protect themselves,” said Sam Paredes gun owners of California.

Sam Paredes says the state is better off improving mechanisms to conduct mental health backgrounds, but whether the governor will sign any of the 14 bills is a mystery.

SACRAMENTO-

Consensus among the Democrat Leadership at the Statehouse is that there will be no action on gun control at the federal level, so it is up to state lawmakers to do something.

And to do something, they’re going to go after ammunition. So is there a difference between the right to bear arms and the right to bear ammo?

“It is a little bit of an evolution. The guns are obviously the issue, but again we are trying to keeps guns and ammunition out of the hands of people that shouldn’t have them,” Darrell Steinberg, California senate president pro-Tem.

In a suite of laws making its way through the state legislature, Californians would have to submit $50 and submit to a background check in order to buy ammo, and semi-automatics that use detachable ammunition magazine would be outlawed.

“None of these is an inconvenience to the criminal. Forcing them to drive to Las Vegas or to Reno to buy their ammunition so they don’t have to register it is a road trip for them,” said Sam Paredes with Gun Owners of California.

Gun rights advocates are vowing to battle these bills in court if they do make to the governor’s desk, and he signs them.

“The courts agreed that when you take ammunition away from fire arms, fire arms are nothing more than rocks,” Paredes said.

SACRAMENTO—

State Senator Leland Yee, (D) San Francisco/San Mateo, will be introducing legislation that will aim to restrict the 3D printing of firearms, Yee’s office announced Tuesday.

The move comes after reports that a 3D printed gun had been made and successfully fired.

In a video that has already garnered over 1.5 million views on YouTube since Sunday, a purportedly 3-D printed gun is shown being fired. The video was produced by Defense Distributed, a nonprofit group out of Texas that aims to distribute information on how to print 3-D guns.

The plans for the gun shown in the video are available for download online.

Friday, Staples announced that they will be stocking a 3D printer, becoming the first major retailer in the nation to sell such an item. The Cube 3D Printer is listed online for $1300.

Yee has already authored three other gun control bills this past session.

SACRAMENTO-

Inside the Crossroads of the West Gun Show there were weapons but the big draw, just like across the country, was ammunition.

The nationwide shortage of ammo and anticipated market draining ammo buys from the Department of Homeland Security made brass a hot commodity this weekend.

“It started after Obama got elected the first time, there was a run on the ammo, so it seems that when the gun control question comes up, ammo gets a run on,” Ralph Maroney told FOX40.

While year to year nationwide ammo sales are down, it’s becoming harder and harder to find bullets and shells on gun store shelves, leading some to turn to re-loading and others looking for answers.

“I think it causes a mass hysteria and people are just trying to stock up and buy everything they can and everyone’s afraid they’re gonna take everything,” said James Caraveo.

senate

The Senate floor
Courtesy: CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN)-

In a major defeat for supporters of tougher gun laws, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday defeated a compromise plan to expand background checks on firearms sales as well as a proposal to ban some semi-automatic weapons modeled after military assault weapons.

The votes were on a series of amendments to a broad package of gun laws pushed by President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in the aftermath of the Newtown school massacre in December.

However, fierce opposition by the powerful National Rifle Association led a backlash by conservative Republicans and some Democrats from pro-gun states that doomed some of the major proposals in the gun package.

Obama, in remarks at the White House, sharply criticized the outcome, but said the effort to toughen gun control was not over.

Supporters of stronger gun laws said the votes showed that powerful lobby groups could influence Congress to defy the wishes of the American people.

“The next time there’s a mass shooting and they’re asked what they did to prevent it, they’re going to have to say nothing,” said Erica Lafferty, the daughter of the principal of the Newtown, Connecticut, school who was killed along with 20 first-graders and five other educators in December’s attack.

A statement by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was disabled by a shooting attack, and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, said the Senate had “ignored the will of the American people.”

Citing polls that showed around 90% support for expanded background checks, the statement said “senators voting against the measure chose “to obey the leaders of the powerful corporate gun lobby, instead of their constituents.”

On the other side, the NRA’s Chris Cox called the expanded background check proposal “misguided,” saying it would not reduce violent crime “or keep our kids safe in their schools.”

The broader gun legislation includes tougher laws on gun trafficking and straw purchases, and steps to devise ways to improve safety in schools. As originally proposed, with a provision to expand background checks, it would have been the most significant gun legislation before Congress in almost two decades.

Due to early opposition to the background check provision, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania worked out a compromise that was less expansive than what Obama wanted but still gained the president’s support.

The Manchin-Toomey plan would have expanded background checks to buyers at gun shows and all Internet sales.

Due to procedural steps by Republican opponents, the amendment required 60 votes to pass in the 100-member chamber, meaning Democrats and their independent allies who hold 55 seats needed support from some GOP senators to push them through.

The final vote was 54 in favor to 46 opposed with four Republicans joining most Democrats in supporting the compromise. With the outcome obvious, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, cast a “no” vote to secure the ability to bring the measure up again.

Meanwhile, four Democrats from pro-gun states voted with most Republicans in opposition.

On the proposal by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California to update a 1994 ban on semi-automatic weapons that expired in 2004, the vote was 40-60, showing opposition by several Democrats as well as the chamber’s Republican minority.

Obama had pushed for Congress to include both the expanded background checks provision and the weapons ban in any gun package. In recent weeks, he and the White House focused their efforts on winning support for the Manchin-Toomey compromise.

However, the NRA promised political retribution against supporters of tougher gun laws.

“You may not win today … but I will say that you did the right thing,” veteran GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona said in praising Manchin and Toomey tor political courage in proposing their compromise. McCain was one of the four Republicans who supported the compromise.

Manchin earlier sounded resigned to defeat, telling his colleagues that regardless of how the chamber votes, the issue of background checks “is not going to go away.”

The NRA has said an expanded background check system would be the first step toward a national gun registry and therefore a violation of the constitutional right to bear arms.

Manchin and other supporters rejected that claim, noting the compromise amendment prohibited a national gun registry and criminalizes misusing background check data for that purpose.

Reid earlier warned Republicans that the strong majority of Americans who support expanded background checks won’t forget votes against the Manchin-Toomey compromise.

“The American people … have a long, long memory,” he said.

Meanwhile, an alternative package of gun proposal that reflected the NRA position also was defeated.

Offerd by conservative Republicans, the alternative plan introduced Wednesday after weeks of hearings and debate on Democratic proposals lacked any expansion of background checks but called for more funding to better enforce the existing system.

A sponsor of the Republican alternative, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, said it would target the gun violence problem in a way that the Democratic proposal before the Senate would not.

In response, Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vermont, called the GOP’s last-minute proposal a “weak and counterproductive alternative.”

Other proposed amendments defeated Wednesday included a plan by Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to make state concealed weapons permits acceptable throughout the country.

Any legislation passed would then go to the Republican-led House. So far, House Speaker John Boehner has stopped short of promising a vote on whatever the Senate sends over.

Obama and others have been highlighting daily gun violence in America in their appeal to lawmakers for stricter limits.

Many in Washington have coalesced around expanding background checks conducted on gun sales. However, settling on the exact mechanism of such a step has been difficult in a sharply divided political climate, with the NRA leading a strong lobbying effort against proposed changes.

Few amendments may pass

Polls show that a strong majority of Americans support some type of initiative to stem gun violence. In a CNN/ORC International poll released last week, 86% of Americans say they support expanded background checks.

However, a majority of Americans also fear that increased background checks would lead to a federal registry of gun owners that could allow the government to take away legally owned weapons.

White House spokesman Jay Carney called any claim that the Manchin-Toomey plan would lead to a federal gun registry and confiscation of firearms “absurd and false and wrong.”

“The legislation itself prohibits that,” he said, adding “what should be clear to those senators who are considering this, because it’s clear to the American people, is that this is common sense.”

CITRUS HEIGHTS–

Gun shop managers across the Sacramento Valley say it’s the worst it has ever been.

“We’ve never had this little of ammunition in our shop before,” says Michael Horne, assistant manager of Shooters Warehouse. “Usually we have 1000′s of rounds on the floor.”

There are supposed to be five boxes of ammo in each space and on every shelf in the store, yet most of the shelves were pretty empty Sunday.

“We’re not the only gun shop in town, the manufacturer is sending us less,” Horne told FOX40.

Since December, the store manager says there’s been an ammo drought.

“It takes time for demand to settle down so manufacturers can catch up,” Horne says.

It’s supply and demand, he tells us. People are lined up in his store to buy ammo more than ever before, fearing legislation will prevent them from getting it in the future.

“In the United States we have the loosest laws … the largest suicide rate and the largest homicide rates,” says Gov. Dan Malloy of Connecticut.

Shooter’s Warehouse expects to have a full stock of ammo by summer, 2013.

“Thank goodness we make a lot of our money off of the guns, we have no short supply of that!” Horne says.

Los Angeles Gun Buyback

File photo. (Courtesy CNN)

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A commission tasked by the nation’s most influential gun lobby to assess school safety proposed a set of recommendations Tuesday that includes a plan to train and arm adults as a way to protect kids from shooters.

Former GOP congressman Asa Hutchinson, who headed the National Rifle Association-backed School Safety Shield, said the plan to train school personnel to carry firearms in schools made sense as a way to prevent shootings like the December massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Response time is critical,” Hutchinson said at a press conference revealing the plan.

“If you have the firearms in the presence of someone in the school, it will reduce the response time and save lives,” he said.

Hutchinson said the recommendation for school personnel to carry weapons includes the stipulation those adults undergo a 40-60 hour training program and are screened through a background check.

The entire report contains eight recommendations, including enhancing training programs for school resource officers and developing an online assessment portal for administrators to gauge their schools’ security.

Hutchinson noted at the press conference Tuesday that many schools have visitor policies that aren’t enforced and doors that aren’t properly secured. Fixing those, he said, would be a step toward preventing further school violence.

He was joined by Mark Mattiolli, whose 6-year-old son James was among the 20 students killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown. Mattiolli, who Hutchinson described as a “special guest” at the recommendations’ unveiling, urged lawmakers to look past their notions of the NRA when reading the group’s plan.

“Politics need to be set aside here, and I hope this doesn’t lead to name calling,” Mattiolli said. “These are recommendations for solutions. And that’s what we need. We need to look at that appendix and we need to do something.”

The NRA first announced the National School Shield Program in December as its response to the Newtown school shooting a week earlier. It posted a bare-bones website and pledged to report back with a set of school safety proposals.

Hutchinson said Tuesday those proposals were directed at federal and state lawmakers, as well as the NRA itself, which will now decide which of the items to official adopt as recommendations.

Immediately following the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told reporters, supporters and a few vocal protesters, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

“Why is the idea of a gun good when it’s used to protect our president or our country or our police, but bad when it’s used to protect our children in their schools? They’re our kids,” he said.

LaPierre, the longtime face of the organization, stood firm to that position and hasn’t wavered despite immense criticism and pressure.

Some lawmakers in several states have considered proposals to arm and train teachers. While the Obama administration hasn’t ruled out some form of armed protection on school property, Vice President Joe Biden made it clear the idea wasn’t his top priority. In a conference call last week with supporters, Biden indicated he preferred background checks be performed on all gun sales and took issue with the idea of arming legislators.

“The last thing we need, and ask any teacher, is to arm teachers … Turn schools into armed camps,” he said.

“But what does make sense is if a school decides they want to have a school resource officer – that is a sworn shield, someone who is a sworn police officer, in or out of uniform, armed or unarmed, depending on what the school wants – in the school to be able to have contact with and build relationships with not only the staff but the students in that school,” he said.

Funding such programs remains a key sticking point between the White House and the NRA, including how lawmakers would dole out the grant money to local schools.

Recent public polling shows the nation is divided on whether or not schools should increase the number of armed guards.

 

By Kevin Liptak. CNN’s Gregory Wallace and Todd Sperry contributed to this report.

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Los Angeles Gun Buyback

File photo. (Courtesy CNN)

(CNN) — Nelson, a small Georgia city north of Atlanta, is requiring the head of virtually every household to own a firearm, the city’s clerk told CNN Tuesday.

The community’s five-member council voted unanimously to approve the measure Monday night.

The proposal was modeled on a similar law in nearby Kennesaw, a measure that has been on the books since 1982. Nelson, which numbers around 1,300 people, is the second city in the state to mandate gun ownership.

“In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore,” the ordinance said.

People with physical or mental disabilities are exempt from the law, as are “paupers,” felons, and those who oppose gun ownership based on belief or religious doctrine.

Councilman Duane Cronic recently said that the law would give every family the right to protect themselves and their property “without worrying about prosecution for protecting themselves.”

 

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Sacramento Mayor Proposes Gun Buyback ProgramHARTFORD, Conn.-

A bipartisan legislative task force in Connecticut has agreed on a major overhaul of the state’s gun laws in the aftermath of December’s deadly attack on an elementary school, lawmakers announced Monday.

The draft legislation would add more than 100 types of guns to the state’s list of banned assault weapons; limit the capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds; ban armor-piercing bullets; require background checks for all weapon sales, including at gun shows; establish safety standards for school buildings; allow mental health training for teachers; and expand mental health research in the state.

“Nobody will be able to say that this bill is absolutely perfect, but no one will also be able to say that this bill fails the test when it comes to being the strongest in the country and the most comprehensive bill in the country,” Connecticut Senate President Don Williams, a Democrat and a member of the task force, said Monday.

The General Assembly will take up the legislation when it returns to session Wednesday.

“There is nothing in this package that would have stopped someone like Adam Lanza,” said Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, referring to the gunman who killed 25 children and adults December 14 in Newtown, Connecticut. “In his case, he stole the guns and went on a murderous rampage.

“Limiting magazine capacity or mandating registration will only affect law-abiding persons, not criminals bent on murder,” Wilson added.

A Republican member of the task force, House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, tried to reassure gun owners.

“No gun owner will lose their gun, no gun owner will lose their magazine they will not lose the use of said gun or magazine, so long as they follow our rules and register,” he said. “Are there tighter restrictions on their use, etc.? Absolutely. We also were able to see as part of this legislation the repeal of early release for violent criminals.”

The bill would expand the definition of an assault weapon by reducing to just one the number of specified “physical characteristics” that need to be present. Current law requires two.

The legislation would immediately ban any further sale, purchase or importation of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds, but would allow current owners of larger-capacity magazines to keep them.

However, those magazines would have to be registered with the state by January 1, and even legally registered magazines could not be loaded with more than 10 rounds outside of the owner’s home or a gun range, no matter what permits the gun owner may hold.

“It is ludicrous to expect people that have firearms capable of holding 15 rounds to only load 10 rounds inside of them,” Wilson objected. “Do criminals really care about these laws?”

Families of the children slain in Newtown were disappointed the larger-capacity magazines were grandfathered in. They asked Monday for an across-the-board ban.

“On behalf of the loved ones who were violently taken from us, please reconsider your approach to large- capacity magazines as part of the comprehensive package of gun legislation,” the families wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

Gov. Dannel Malloy backed the families in a statement Monday.

“They’ve asked for an up or down vote on that provision,” he said, “and, whether it’s in the larger bill or as an amendment, the families, and every resident of our state, deserve a vote.

“I have been clear for weeks that a ban on the possession and sale of high-capacity magazines is an important part of our effort to prevent gun violence,” he added. “Simply banning their sale moving forward would not be an effective solution.”

In addition, the bill would create the nation’s first statewide registry for people convicted of crimes involving the use or threat of dangerous weapons. The registry would not be public, but available to law enforcement only. Furthermore, it would require eligibility certificates for the purchase of any rifle, shotgun or ammunition, and would significantly increase penalties for illegal possession and firearms trafficking.

Other parts of the bill establish safety standards for school building projects, and require each school in the state to develop a safety and security plan. It also requires safe school climate committees to investigate instances of bullying and other threatening behavior. Other provisions address security at colleges and universities.

The bill allows school districts to require “mental health first aid” training for school personnel, and creates a task force to examine the state’s mental health system. Additionally, it alters state insurance regulations to beef up mental health care coverage.

Williams, the Senate president, told CNN he expected strong support for the bill from both sides of the aisle because of the bipartisan task force that put it together.

“We have broken the gridlock on the most controversial issue,” he said in announcing the agreement.

“Democrats and Republicans were able to come to an agreement on a strong, comprehensive bill,” he added. “That is a message that should resound in 49 other states, and in Washington, D.C.. and the message is we can get it done here and they should get it done in their respective states and nationally in Congress.”

The task force is made up of Williams and fellow Democrats House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz; along with Senate Republican Leader John McKinney and Cafero, the House Republican leader. It based the draft legislation on proposals created by 16-member bicameral working groups on the topics of gun violence, school security and mental health.

“It’s important for us to act quickly, but it’s more important for us to act intelligently,” Sharkey said. “It’s also critical that we send the message to Washington and to the rest of this country that this is the way to get this job done. To do it in an effective, meaningful, thoughtful way and to do it in a meaningful, bipartisan basis, because our children deserve no less.”

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