Gun Control (not) in the State of the Union

January 25, 2011

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Could you clarify what that means, Mr. President

The 'right' to bear arms is anything but simple. Constantly debated, its has gone through many re-incarnations in understanding over the years. Yet the issue was entirely ignored in this year's State of the Union address.

Last week, Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) introduced H.R. 308, which would ban large capacity ammunition magazines like the one used by the Tucson shooter. The bill already has 58 cosponsors and the numbers are growing quickly. The Tucson shooter was able to fire 32 shots in rapid succession, hitting 19 people. This should never have been possible. Had the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 not run out in 2004 due to lack of Presidential and Congressional commitment, the shooter would have been limited to ten rounds - still devastating, but less-so.

Years of polls have consistently shown that a majority of Americans support the ban's extension. Law enforcement groups agree. Yet, assault weapons and high capacity magazines remain legal and are easy to buy. Law enforcement is outgunned by criminals, and it is time to renew and strengthen the ban.

Then there's the "Gun Show Loop Hole." To date, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System has prevented almost two million criminals and 'prohibited purchasers' from buying guns. The law has also acted as a deterrent - those prohibited from purchasing guns are less likely to try to do so when they know background checks are in place. However, current federal law only requires background checks for guns sold through licensed firearm dealers, which account for only 60% of gun sales in the United States. This dangerous loophole means that two of every five guns sold change hands without a background check. These private sales include weapons sold at gun shows, through classified newspaper ads, over the internet, and so on.

The tragedy in Tucson began a renewed conversation about reasonable gun limits, but the President has failed to up the ante tonight. It's now on Congress to not only talk about civility, but to take a stand to protect all Americans from devastating gun violence. With 32,000 American deaths a year due to gun crime, the conversation is long overdue.

Act now to help take Dangerous High-Capacity Ammunition Off Our Streets.

For more information, take a look at:
The Brady Campaign
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

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