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Broad Gun Control Efforts Introduced in Wake of Shooting

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Broad Gun Control Efforts Introduced in Wake of Shooting Empty Broad Gun Control Efforts Introduced in Wake of Shooting

Post  Forum Gawd Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:02 am

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The first concrete responses to the massacre in Newtown, Conn., began emerging on Tuesday, as state leaders proposed measures to curb gun violence, corporations distanced themselves from an event that has traumatized the nation and the White House pointed to gun control measures that President Obama would champion in the months ahead.

The reactions were considerably more broad-based than what had followed previous mass shootings, coming from Republicans as well as Democrats, from gun control advocates and those who have favored gun rights in the past, and even from the corporate and retail worlds. Proponents of stricter controls on firearms said they were cautiously optimistic that, perhaps this time, something concrete and lasting would be enacted.

In California, Democratic leaders introduced legislation that would mandate background checks and one-year permits for anyone who wanted to buy ammunition there. In Michigan, a Republican governor vetoed legislation that would have permitted concealed weapons in schools. And a private equity company announced that it would sell off the company that made the high-powered assault rifle used in the Newtown shootings last week.

The National Rifle Association broke its silence on the massacre with what it called an “important statement from the National Rifle Association,” saying that the organization, which has steadfastly fought almost any federal or state gun control legislation, was potentially reconsidering its position.

“The N.R.A. is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to make sure this never happens again,” the statement said. It did not offer details.

This is hardly the first time that a mass killing on American soil produced promises to curb firearms, only for those efforts to falter as memories faded and powerful gun advocates, led by the N.R.A., rose up in the halls of Washington or in statehouses. In some cases, moves were not presented as a permanent shift in policy; one of them was an announcement by Dick’s Sporting Goods that it would stop selling many kinds of firearms, which could produce significant revenue losses for the chain.

Even as this was happening, millions of American gun owners — about 40 percent of American households report having a gun — remained deeply resistant to any moves to curtail Second Amendment gun rights. And not all the moves announced Tuesday pointed to stricter gun controls.

In Ohio, Gov. John R. Kasich, a Republican, announced that he would sign legislation that would allow people to keep guns in their cars at the Statehouse garage and make it easier to renew licenses and to carry concealed weapons. “I think as we move forward, whatever we do, we don’t want to erode the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said.

Still, the cascading developments since Friday’s shooting led one of the leading gun control organizations, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, to proclaim a legal and cultural groundswell in the nation’s view of firearms. It is a view reinforced with each new image of the funeral of an elementary school child, 20 of whom were killed in the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, along with 6 adults.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Brian Malte, the director of mobilization for the Brady Campaign.

At the White House, Jay Carney, the press secretary, suggested that President Obama was likely to support the reinstatement of a ban on assault weapons, similar to the type used in Newtown. Mr. Carney said the president, who used his eulogy for the murdered children on Sunday to signal a personal effort to tackle gun control in his second term, might support a ban on the kind of high-capacity ammunition clips used by the young gunman, Adam Lanza, who killed himself as the police approached.

On Capitol Hill, some Congressional Republicans on Tuesday were cautiously supportive of the idea of exploring new gun policies. Senator John McCain of Arizona said he would not outright reject the notion of limitations or bans on certain types of guns or ammunition, and rejected the idea raised by some Republicans that it was too soon to begin debating legislative remedies.

“I don’t see that it’s too soon to talk about it,” he said. “Americans, all our fellow citizens, are talking about it.”

Whatever happens in Washington, there was growing evidence that, in some states, lawmakers and governors were moving forward.

The legislation introduced in California — backed by Democrats, who won commanding majorities in the Assembly and Senate in November — moves the effort from curbing weapons to controlling the sale of ammunition.

Other states have sought to control the sale of ammunition, among them Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey, but this would apparently be the most stringent law yet, requiring a background check and an annual $50 permit to buy any type of ammunition.

“We don’t think about the fuel that feeds the violence, and that’s ammunition,” said the sponsor, Senator Kevin de León. “If you want to fish, you have to secure a license to fish. If you want to cut down a Christmas tree in California — this is legally factual — you have to secure a permit at a cost of $10. Yet anyone who walks into any gun store in California can buy all the ammunition they want.”

At the same time, John W. Hickenlooper, the Democratic governor of Colorado, a state still reeling from the mass killing of moviegoers in Aurora in July, called for bolstering firearm checks to make it more difficult for mentally ill people to buy handguns. Mr. Hickenlooper proposed speeding the transfer of records that show when a person has been committed to a mental institution so that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation could immediately retrieve the information for firearm background checks.

“The common element of so many of these mass homicides seems to be a level of mental illness,” he said. He added: “What happened in Newtown is beyond comprehension.” The Michigan bill that would permit people to carry concealed weapons into schools and churches, as long as they had extra training, had passed the Republican-held Legislature on Thursday night, the day before the shooting. Gov. Rick Snyder said he was vetoing it because it did not permit public entities to exclude themselves from the bill’s requirement.

“While we must vigilantly protect the rights of law-abiding firearm owners, we also must ensure the right of designated public entities to exercise their best discretion in matters of safety and security,” Mr. Snyder said.

The fallout extended to the corporate world. Cerberus Capital Management announced that it was selling the Freedom Group, which makes the .223 Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle used in the massacre. Cerberus acquired Bushmaster in 2006, later merging it with other gun companies to create the Freedom Group.

“It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level,” Cerberus said in statement.

The decision came after an announcement by the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, that it was reviewing its investment in Cerberus in light of the firm’s holding in the Freedom Group.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, a chain with more than 500 stores that sells rifles and handguns, including autoloading ones, posted a notice on its Web site announcing that it was scaling back weapon sales because of the shooting. “During this time of national mourning, we have removed all guns from sale and from display in our store nearest to Newtown and suspended the sale of modern sporting rifles in all of our stores chain wide,” it said.

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, said it had removed an information page on Bushmaster from its Web site “in light of the tragic events.” However, it said it had made no changes to its sales policies on guns and ammunition. Recently, Walmart has been increasing its emphasis on gun sales, after five years of backing away from them. Walmart does not break out gun sales, but in the year ending Jan. 31, 2011, its “hardlines” category — including sporting goods, auto accessories, hardware and other items — made up about 10 percent of total United States sales of $264.2 billion, down from 11 percent the year before.

Stock prices of gun makers have fallen since the shooting. From Friday morning through close of market Tuesday, Smith & Wesson’s share price declined more than 20 percent, while Sturm, Ruger & Company’s share price fell more than 14 percent.

Reporting was contributed by Stephanie Clifford, Michael Cooper, Monica Davey, Dan Frosch, Ian Lovett, Michael D. Shear and Jennifer Steinhauer.

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Forum Gawd
Forum Gawd

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