Gun Stories of the Week: Surgeon General Laments Backlash After Calling Gun Ownership a Public Health Issue
TOP STORY Murthy laments backlash after insulting 90 million Americans with condescending lectures on gun ownership U.S. Surgeon General Vivek...
Murthy laments backlash after insulting 90 million Americans with condescending lectures on gun ownership
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said he stands by tweets that implied gun owners are a public health issue, lamenting how something as trivial as insulting 90 million law-abiding Americans somehow made his year-long confirmation process a contentious battle and has subsequently diminished his efficacy as the nation’s “chief doctor.”
Speaking before a banquet room full of journalists in San Francisco on Aug. 17, Murthy reaffirmed his position that gun violence is a preventable health problem, comparing it to seat belts and swimming pool safety.
“For anybody who has worked in a hospital, people understand that gun violence is a public health issue,” he said. “The reason is whenever you have large numbers of people who are getting injured or dying, that’s a public health issue. It’s why doctors spoke up about seat belts, especially in the 80s or 90s when we saw a large number of people dying in motor vehicle accidents.”
The Senate confirmed Murthy, 38, in December in a 51-43 vote. The vote was delayed for about a year because of concerns about his inexperience and his support of gun-control measures and the president’s health care law.
A former physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and instructor at Harvard Medical School, Murthy made many comments on Twitter in his role as founder and president of Doctors for America, formerly Doctors for Obama.
He repeatedly said doctors should demand patients tell them if they are gun owners and, if so, doctors should “counsel” them about gun violence. The smug condescending nature of this “I-Know-Better” commentary insulted millions and fueled a backlash that delayed his confirmation for a year and has hampered his ability to be an effective surgeon general.
The NRA called him a “serious threat to the rights of gun owners,” citing his 2012 tweet: “Tired of politicians playing politics w/guns, putting lives at risk b/c they’re scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue.”
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Legislators ponder extending one-year ban on gun ownership to 10 years for a raft of misdemeanors
The California Legislature returned from its summer recess on Aug. 19 and among bills soon to be debated is Senate Bill 347—a proposal to expand the reasons why California residents can face a 10-year ban on gun possession.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), who also sponsored the 2014 legislation that put “Gun Violence Protection Orders” in place, which allows the state to temporarily deny Second Amendment rights to Californians whose families, friends, or co-workers believed they were a threat to themselves or others.
The Gun Violence Protection Orders last one year. SB 347 proposes to extend that order for a decade. In addition, Jackson’s bill wants the 10-year ban to cover transfers of firearms to a family member without undergoing a background check via a licensed dealer, and extend to those who commit such “crimes” as sell ammunition to someone under the age of 21.
“SB 347 is a testimony to the insidious nature of gun control, inasmuch as it shows how the government—once on the path of gun control—incrementally expands it to cover every possible avenue by which residents might obtain a gun, even one that has been in the family for years,” writes AWR Hawkins on Breitbart.com on Aug. 18. “It is clearly a way to ensure the California government has knowledge of where every law-abiding gun owner lives and how many guns that owner possesses.”
SB 347 proposes to add to the state’s already existing list of misdemeanor crimes that result in a 10-year prohibition on possessing a firearm. These include:
— Transferring a handgun without a firearms license.
— Selling or giving possession of ammunition to a minor.
— Selling handgun ammunition to a person under 21 years of age.
— Possession of ammunition by a person prohibited from possessing a firearm.
— Furnishing ammunition to a person prohibited from possessing ammunition.
— Carrying ammunition onto school grounds.
— Receiving stolen property consisting of a firearm.
— Carrying a loaded or concealed weapon if the person has been previously convicted of a drug charges.
— Possession of a firearm that is not registered.
“The addition of these misdemeanor offenses to the prohibited category list that include the ‘transfer’ of firearms or ammunition could entrap family members who are giving firearms to relatives and are unaware of the requirements for firearm transfers through licensed dealers,” reads an alert from the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.
California legislators are also expected to discuss Sen. Lois Wolk’s (D-Davis) SB 707, which would ban concealed carry permit holders from carrying a gun on a college campus. California law currently contains an exemption allowing concealed permit holders to carry on campus but Wolk apparently believes they pose a safety risk even though, as Hawkins notes, she “has yet to cite one crime committed by a permit holder on a campus.”
On August 13, Gov. Jerry Brown signed an NRA-backed bill that protects the guns of those subject to Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVROs).
The language of the GVRO law requires a person subject to such an order to forfeit guns by turning them over to police or selling them. The bill Brown signed — AB 950 — changes this so that those subject to a GVRO can transfer their guns to a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder for safekeeping until the GVRO expires.
California is among at least 12 states where proposed legislation has been introduced in 2015 to make it harder for people accused or convicted of domestic violence to get or keep a firearm, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Six states passed gun laws banning or restricting gun ownership for accused and convicted domestic abusers in 2014, including two — Louisiana and Wisconsin — with Republican governors running for President.
There already is a federal law on the books — the 1996 Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, often called “the Lautenberg Amendment,” which bans access to firearms by people convicted of crimes of domestic violence.
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Maine gun dealers see increasing handgun sales as open-carry law nears Oct. 14 enactment
A Maine law that goes into effect Oct. 14 will “allow” adults to carry concealed handguns without police-issued permits is triggering a spike in gun sales at shops in the Lewiston-Auburn region, according to the Bangor Daily News.
John Reid, owner of the J.T. Reid’s Gun Shop in Auburn, told the Bangor Daily News on Aug 18 that handgun sales were up. “I’ve ordered another 100 handguns to add to the inventory,” Reid said, adding that personal defense weapons, such as 9-millimeter and .38-caliber pistols, were the top sellers.
Nick Ayotte, the owner of Northeastern Firearms in Turner, told the BDN that normally, summer is slow for gun sales, but customers are interested in Maine’s changing law.
While the law doesn’t require any certified safety training, Ayotte and other gun shop owners encourage it, as well as obtaining the now-optional concealed handgun permits. That system, which is recognized in about 20 other states where permits are required, will remain in place.
“It shows a commitment to being responsible and being safe,” Ayotte told the BDN.
Maine’s concealed carry permittees are required to undergo a criminal and mental health background check and safety training by the military or a handgun instructor.
The Maine Department of Public Safety has created a website dedicated to the new law change that includes links to several of Maine’s applicable laws regarding use of force and use of deadly force.
The site states it is still illegal to carry guns at courthouses, public schools, state parks, federal buildings, the State Capitol area and private property, such as bars. It is still illegal to carry a handgun in a bar while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs.
Among the new requirements in the law is that that buyers acknowledge the receipt of handgun safety materials from the state with a signature.
Under the new law a person carrying a handgun without a permit is required to “immediately” disclose the presence of the weapon or face a civil fine of up to $100. Some legislators want to amend that to only require mandatory disclosure only if an officer first asked about weapons.
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IN THE COURTS
Michigan ruling OKs open carry in school ‘Easy Mass-Kill Zones’
The lethal prohibition against “allowing” licensed, vetted gun owners to openly carry firearms in schools and the utter insanity of declaring schools “Gun Free Zones,” thereby making them attractive “Easy Mass-Kill Zones” for lunatics, have been challenged in a Michigan court and, surprisingly, common sense has prevailed.
Michigan Circuit Judge Archie Hayman ruled on Aug. 10 that Kenneth Herman, of Grand Rapids, may carry a gun inside his daughter’s school — provided he carries it out in the open where it is most likely not to panic students and teachers.
According to the Associated Press, Herman sued the Clio Area School District after his daughter’s elementary school refused to grant him access while he was openly carrying a pistol.
The ruling highlighted the confusion in Michigan’s hodgepodge of restrictions and exceptions contained in its gun laws. While one provision states that “an individual who possesses a weapon in a weapon-free school zone is guilty of a misdemeanor,” another allows individuals “licensed by this state or another state to carry a concealed weapon” to do so.
Herman has a concealed carry license.
State law prohibits license holders from carrying “a concealed pistol” on school grounds, but doesn’t preclude licensed holders from openly carrying firearms. Hayman, seeing a way to protect children while upholding the concealed carry ban on campus, found a common sense middle ground.
According to the AP, 20 co-sponsors have signed onto legislation by state Rep. Andy Schor (D) that seeks to allow concealed carry by licensed permit holders in “Easy Mass-Kill Zones.” That legislation, however, has not advanced in the state house.
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