Democrats to Use CDC Report to Argue Guns Are ‘A Public Health Risk’
Last week’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that documents U.S. gun-related deaths reached their highest level in almost four decades in 2018—nearly 40,000—will add ammunition to an argument gun-control advocates have always wanted to make: Guns are a public health risk.
With the new Democratic majority taking over the House in 2019, they will push hard for legislation to fund research on gun injuries and deaths in a way that offers bipartisan “cover,” especially to Democrats elected in contested districts.
“Making gun violence a public health issue is seen as unlikely to cause divisions between liberal and centrist Democrats, some of whom are wary about moving too far to the left ahead of their 2020 reelection bids,” writes Nathaniel Weixel in TheHill.com on Dec. 14.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.)—a progressive considering a 2020 presidential bid with no such concerns—said the report will justify appropriating government funds to study gun violence.
“We have an opportunity to finally study gun violence in America to see what we can do,” Swalwell said.
Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., (D-NJ) told The Hill that allocating money to the CDC to study gun violence will be a priority in the new Congress. “We have tried repeatedly over the last few years” to money for research on gun violence “and every time we try to do it we were turned down by Republicans,” he said.
The 1996 Dickey amendment, named for the late Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.), prohibits the CDC from conducting gun violence research. The agency has no dedicated funding for firearms research.
In addition to CDC funding, Pallone said, the House should consider a bill sponsored by Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) mandating the U.S. Surgeon General submit an annual report on the effects of gun violence on public health.
“We’re going to authorize the legislation we have not been able to move because of Republicans,” Pallone said at recent a press conference on gun violence. “That will make sure that kind of funding is available through the CDC.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—soon, most likely, the House Majority leader—has made no bones about her intent to push gun control legislation. Now, armed with the CDC report, she will frame firearms as a “public health risk.”
“We will pass common sense gun violence prevention legislation soon, and it will be bipartisan,” Pelosi said at a press conference last week.
Because, of course, guns—and, by extention, gun-owners—are now a “public health risk.”
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Gun Control Restrictions Will Imperil the Nation’s Defense Industries
In a Dec. 12 Ammoland editorial, Eric Graves—a retired U.S. Air Force officer and editor of ‘Soldier Systems Daily’ who often writes for gun-rights stalwart AWR Hawkins’s ‘Down Range’—offers insight into an overlooked “down range” aspect of gun control as other example of how over-regulation impairs industry.
And in this case, Graves maintains, that industry is not merely firearms-manufacturers and retailers, but the defense industry the nation depends on in a world that is growing increasingly more dangerously unstable.
Citing New Jersey’s recently upheld “high capacity” magazine ban, which ignores “the concept of grandfathering” and makes thousands of gun-owners in the state “instant felons,” the law and subsequent court decision is symptomatic of a larger trend.
“I’m not talking about the most obvious issue of undermining the Constitution,” he writes. “Instead, I mean to say that these laws dis-incentivize a vibrant firearms industry here in the United States which pulls double duty as the defense small arms industrial base.”
A mushrooming array of gun control laws and regulations will result in less profitability and, thus, less innovation, he writes.
“Not only do the U.S. military and our allies benefit directly from this innovation, but many companies leverage the profits made from their commercial sales to underwrite specialized weapon development for the military,” Graves writes. “But with continued restrictions on firearms and accessories, fewer companies are going to develop these products.”
This has happened before, he notes, during the 1994-2004 federal ‘Assault Weapons Ban.’
“At the sunset of that ban the firearms industry once again flourished,” Graves writes. “The very magazines and weapon features that were prohibited under the law have been crucial to the US military’s modernization during operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
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Florida School Safety Panel: Teachers Can Be Armed ‘Guardians,’ Too
A Florida school safety panel has overwhelmingly endorsed a proposal to allow teachers who have concealed-weapons licenses and undergo “guardian” training by local law enforcement to carry guns in classrooms.
The 14-member Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, created following the March adoption of Senate Bill 7026, Florida’s $400 million response to the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, has been meeting through the summer and fall to recommend changes to the law and hammer out ways to implement it.
According to Watchdog.org, the 13-1 decision reverses a previous compromise to exclude classroom teachers its most controversial measure—the “guardian” program, which allows school districts to hire vetted volunteers trained by county sheriff’s departments who are not full-time classroom teachers to be armed on campuses.
The commission said the guardian program does not go far enough and should be expanded to invite teachers who have concealed carry licenses to volunteer for the training.
“There are simply not enough cops to go around,” commission chair Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told reporters. “So, if there are not enough cops to go around, then the best way to comply with (SB 7026) is to use the law to its maximum and allow the guardians to perform that function.”
According to Watchdog.org, the proposal is among recommendations in a 407-page draft report scheduled to be completed by Jan. 1. Expanding the guardian program as outlined in SB 7026 would require legislation to be enacted.
The law requires each school in the state to have at least one armed school resource officer, usually a sheriff’s deputy, or a vetted guardian trained by local law enforcement agencies.
According to the report, one of the program’s flaws in SB 7026 is it states sheriff’s departments “may” provide the training, rather than “shall” do so, making it voluntary for local law enforcement agencies to participate.
A number of sheriffs across the state have declined to provide guardian training, even after local school boards have requested it, citing liability concerns from insurance providers.
Commission member Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who is the president of Major County Sheriffs of America, was not buying the idea that fellow sheriffs were opting out of the program because of insurance concerns.
“What we have right now is the St. Bernard tail wagging the chihuahua dog,” Judd said. “I’m dad-gum passionate about this. I’m recommending we change ‘may’ to ‘shall’” in the commission’s recommendations to the legislature.
The commission unanimously approved Judd’s suggested change, which would require sheriff’s departments to provide guardian training if requested by local school boards.
If lawmakers adopt the proposal, Florida would be the 15th state where there are armed teachers in classrooms, according to the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL), joining Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Washington.
Another 16 states give local school boards the authority to arm school staff, but none have chosen to do so.
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IN THE COURTS
Federal Ruling Extends Ban On Marijuana Patients Purchasing Firearms
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Dec. 12 ruled 3-0 that a federal ban preventing medical marijuana card holders from purchasing firearms is not in violation of the Second Amendment.
According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit was filed in 2011 by Nevada resident S. Rowan Wilson after she tried to purchase a gun for self-defense and was denied based on a federal ban on the sale of guns to users of illegal drugs.
Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia allow medicinal marijuana in some form, while D.C. and 10 states have legalized recreational use. But since marijuana remains illegal under U.S. law, there is a disconnect between state and federal laws.
This puts those who may have a marijuana prescription in the middle of that disconnect if they are honest in completing the ATF Form 4473 when purchasing a firearm.
The court, however, rather than exclusively citing this conflict in federal-state law as the justification for its ruling, as others have done in saying the law needs to be changed for them to rule otherwise, claimed medicinal marijuana use “raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated.”
The appeals court agreed with guidelines from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that firearms sellers should assume that medical marijuana card holders use the drug.
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