Thursday, May 5, 2016

Guns Everywhere (Kinda)

As States Expand Gun Rights, Police Object:

Guns in bars. Guns in airports. Guns in day care centers and sports arenas. Conservative state lawmakers around the country are pressing to weaken an array of gun regulations, in some cases greatly expanding where owners can carry their weapons.

But the legislators are encountering stiff opposition from what has been a trusted ally: law enforcement.

In more than a dozen states with traditions of robust support for gun ownership rights, and where legislatures have moved to relax gun laws during the past year, the local police have become increasingly vocal in denouncing the measures. They say the new laws expose officers to greater danger and prevent them from doing their jobs effectively.

Mississippi’s measure, signed into law in April and pushed mainly as an effort to allow worshipers in church to arm themselves, is one of several that have passed in recent months. West Virginia and Idaho have approved laws allowing people to carry concealed handguns without a permit or firearm training — and, in many cases, without a background check. Texas has given residents the right to carry handguns openly. Oklahoma appears set to pass a similar measure in the next several weeks.

Several states, including Arizona, Georgia and Michigan, have enacted laws that prohibit the police from destroying firearms that have been used in crimes. Instead, the weapons must be sold to licensed dealers or to the public at auction.
I wasn't aware of that last loony provision: that guns used in the commission of crimes, including violent homicides, be resold at public auction and, in the more notorious cases, a chance to own a piece of infamy ("Live on Ebay, auction closes in 12 hours: your chance to own a piece of Columbine!").

In fact, for a real-life example, check out George Zimmerman selling the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin in 2012. Blood to the highest bidder.

And the biggest enemy law enforcement faces seems to be the NRA.
The N.R.A., which supports the new laws, said opponents of the measures sought to harm people’s ability to defend themselves.

“These laws simply protect and expand the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional right to self-protection,” said Jennifer Baker, an N.R.A. spokeswoman. “Gloom-and-doom predictions of Wild West scenarios in states with strong gun rights have proven time and again to be nothing more than scare tactics.”
Yeah, except when they aren't

Thankfully, law enforcement is experiencing some victories, including here in Georgia the other day.
On Tuesday, Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia, a Republican, vetoed a bill passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature to allow gun owners 21 and older to carry a concealed handgun onto public college and university campuses with a permit.

The campus police chiefs of the University System of Georgia supported keeping the existing campus gun laws, according to Hank M. Huckaby, the system chancellor, who spoke before a State Senate committee in March.

Mr. Deal, in a statement Tuesday, said: “From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed. To depart from such time-honored protections should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists.”
Because there isn't any. And it wasn't just the campus police chiefs, btw, but the entire university system, including vast majorities (2/3 and higher) of students, faculties and staff that opposed what was essentially red meat, election year gimmickry.

As this Chronicle of Higher Ed article notes, Deal's veto won't end the debate, and it won't end next year's session of the legislature from passing it again, perhaps this time with the right exclusions. 
The Georgia measure would have allowed anyone 21 or older with a weapons license to carry a concealed gun anywhere on a public-college campus unless the area was specifically excluded. The areas lawmakers carved out for exclusions included dormitories, sporting-event venues, and fraternity and sorority houses.
Ironic, given that if sexual assault on campus statistics are accurate, and this law is really about self-defense, the last places you'd want to forbid college women from arming themselves would be drunken sporting events, frat parties, and after-hours dorms.

Regardless, one can certainly argue that those who support the bill, who say college professors and others who are against guns on campus (or guns everywhere) are just "collectively paranoid," certainly seem to be saying so ironically.

Meanwhile, more wonderful gun statistics from the preschool set: two toddlers shoot themselves to death each week in the U.S., yet the guns everywhere crowd opposes law enforcement and gun safety measures.
With shootings by preschoolers happening at a pace of about two per week, some of the victims were the youngsters’ parents or siblings, but in many cases the children ended up taking their own lives.

“You can’t call this a tragic accident,” said Jean Peters Baker, the prosecutor of Jackson County, Mo., who is overseeing the criminal case in Sha’Quille’s death. Her office charged Mr. Block, 24, with second-degree murder and child endangerment. “These are really preventable, and we’re not willing to prevent them.”

Gun rights groups have long opposed these kinds of laws. They argue that trigger locks can fail, that mandatory storage can put a gun out of reach in an emergency, and that such measures infringe on Second Amendment rights.

“It’s clearly a tragedy, but it’s not something that’s widespread,” said Larry Pratt, a spokesman and former executive director of Gun Owners of America. “To base public policy on occasional mishaps would be a grave mistake.”
Emphasis on the word grave.

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