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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Newtown Tried Tightening Gun Rules Before Shooting

Representatives of The National Shooting Sports Foundation stand in their booth at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Chicago in August. From left, Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel; Jake McGuigan, NSSF director of government relations - state affairs; and Mike Bazinet, NSSF director of public affairs. (www.nssf.org)

Representatives of the Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation stand in their booth at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Chicago in August. From left, Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel; Jake McGuigan, NSSF director of government relations – state affairs; and Mike Bazinet, NSSF director of public affairs. (www.nssf.org)

Newtown, Conn. Police Chief Michael Kehoe asked the town council this fall for new regulations to require that all shooting ranges and firearms used at those ranges be approved by the police.

Kehoe also wanted to limit hours when people could fire guns for recreational use.

The proposals were tabled because of fierce opposition, including opposition from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, one of the nation’s most powerful pro-gun lobby groups, which has its home in Newtown.

Guest:

  • Michael Moss, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter at The New York Times.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Guest

    Chris Rock once told a joke stating that we don’t need gun control laws…we need bullet control laws. If a bullet costs $5000, someone who gets shot -really- must have deserved it. It’s funny, but does make a good point. Maybe controlling bullets is an option, or perhaps levying an additional tax on firearms.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

       That is a good joke, but bullets can easily be made at home with simple equipment.  Just like meth.

      • Piltdownman

        However, most mass killers would not have the patience for loading their own.  I ask the question, and not facetiously, that if we do indeed have the right to keep and bear arms, does that include the bullets?

        • Mac2411

           Yes, it does.  It’s not a firearm without the bullets, which are an essential part of the system.

  • http://twitter.com/grumpyforester Jack K.

    Hearing someone suggest that ownership of firearms is necessary as a means of controlling the government gives me pause.  What that statement essentially means is that I would therefore be compelled to own firearms in order to forcibly oppose those who are using guns to “control the government” in ways that I fundamentally disagree with.  It’s hard to decide whether that is a definition of “civil war” or “anarchy”…

    • Mac2411

      The idea isn’t to “control the Government” as you put it, but to oppose tyranny.  If you think it can’t happen here, then you are very naive.

  • Johnny

    I love the argument that people need guns to protect themselves from the government. Really? Tell me what use a hand gun, shotgun or even assault rifle is going to be against a tank or a predator drone. Give me a break.

    • it

      Yeah. US drones have killed a lot more children than this guy.

    • Mac2411

       Primitively armed Afghans seem to be making it just fine against such weapons.  As do Syrian civilians.

      • Criscros

        Those primitely armed Afghans you speak of are using Russian made AK47′s.  You need to educate yourself before you make supid comments about things you know nothingh about!

  • Guest

    The illustration of the use of weapons to reform government used in your piece was Athens, GA in 1946.  According to the Tennessee government’s web site (http://www.tn.gov/tsla/exhibits/disasters/riots.htm) the weapon’s used by the discharged GI’s were not their own personal weapons.  They “…took weapons from the local armory and fired upon the jail for half an hour until ammunition ran low.”  Personal ownership of firearms, according to an official government web site, had no role in the Athens, Ga affair.

  • Mitzi

    Thanks for this background info on Newtown’s gun culture. I missed it in the Times I guess.

    From the upper left coast.

  • Jeremy

    Is anyone else tired of hearing about “automatic weapons?” You would think that those entering the discussion about the tragedy in Newton and the larger gun control/gun rights debate would educate themselves before airing their opinion on national news. There are very few automatic weapons in civilian hands in this country. Automatic weapons, which can fire continuously with a single trigger pull, are very strictly regulated. What Mr. Moss is referring to are correctly referred to as semi-automatic weapons, which fire a single cartridge with each trigger pull. I am an avid recreational shooter and hunter and have never even seen a truly automatic weapon. Does this distinction change the debate? Possibly. Possibly not. But one would hope that an investigative reporter would do enough investigation to know the important difference between the two.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

       I have heard a few people make this same point, but in general terms it is not important to the issue.  Most of the assault weapons, like the Bushmaster rifle in this story, are just military grade automatic weapons permanently set to semi-automatic.  They can still be fired incredibly quickly.  I don’t see how it would change the debate in any meaningful way.

    • Ray

      My understanding is semi-automatic weapon sales have been on the rise in the US over the last decade. I have also read the use of these weapons to kill has seen a dramatic rise. Finally, the Executive Director of one of this country’s largest pro-gun non-profits said on the radio yesterday that it is incredibly easy for a person to upgrade a semi-automatic to an automatic with little expense or ability. Are these not things we should be pondering? 

  • AghastinNC

    I am a gun owner and have been a hunter since I was 12 years old (over 35 years now).  Nonetheless, I can’t understand the position taken by some that a ban on assault weapons is an unreasonable infringement of 2nd Amendment rights.  The 1st Amendment guarantees our rights to free speech, and yet the Supreme Court (and we as a people) are perfectly comfortable with “reasonable restrictions” placed on our basic right to express ourselves.  Specifically, both the federal government and individual states have long had laws restricting  the location and timing of speech and gatherings, as well as content (e.g. hate speech, incitements to violence, yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, etc.).  How is it that we are willing to place limits on words and not weapons designed for the efficient killing of humans? 

  • Ray

    I am puzzled by the argument that gun ownership should be protected to ensure citizens are protected from government control. This confuses me. Isn’t what has been happening in our culture, most recently Newtown, CT, a small group of citizens with the resources to get guns taking over our government? Just as I am concerned about government control of the masses, I am concerned about a small minority of often unstable individuals controlling the rest of us. Every time I hear of a shooting, regardless of the number killed or injured, I think, “Here we go again, a small group of individuals is controlling our lives again.” And, haven’t they already won? Don’t we already react rather than respond. Don’t we, as a society react and focus on how to protect ourselves against such acts instead of sitting back and thinking through the causes of such and responding rationally?

    • Mac2411

       The Bill of Rights is all about protecting the minority against the tyranny of the majority Ray.  No individual that owns a firearm is trying to control anything you do. 

  • Ray

    If we are really concerned about the use of guns to kill, why aren’t we requiring those who seek to own a gun get a mental health exam through a mental health professional? And, it should be at their own expense. We require test taking to drive a car. We require someone be of a “responsible” age before drinking. Shouldn’t we expect someone who can use a weapon to kill be required to prove they can be responsible – rational. I bet Mrs. Lanza would ever have passed a mental health exam. How could anyone with as many weapons at home as she had not have issues that would be recognized by a mental health professional. Guns don’t kill, people kill. So, let’s require people to prove they aren’t going to use the gun to actively seek out someone to kill – as opposed to someone killing in self defense.

  • Sick and Tired

    This IS NPR, correct?  Where is the even discussion of this topic?  Your guest using provocative words such as “obsession” taints any possibility of objectivity in this discussion.   It is,  however heinous the crime, entirely wrong to penalize all for the acts of one.  It is reminiscent of Kindergarten:  “I don’t know who put the frog in my desk, but now everyone will have to stay after school.”  Since the perpetrator is dead, there is no one to punish.  It is a hard fact, but a true one.  Grieve, get angry, certainly.  Work towards gun safety education and mental health system improvements, certainly.  But place the guilt where it lies, with the individual.

    • Criscros

      Amen!  But, you are using common sense.  That doesn’t work with emotionally-driven liberals!

  • Piltdownman

    This concept that additional restrictions on gun ownership are a “slippery slope” to their eventual outright banning is a false equivalency, yet gets repeated year in and year out.  Does anyone actually believe that, if the government really did want to “go rogue,” that a bunch of wahoos with rifles could stop them?  If the state or federal government of the U.S. wanted to round us up and put us in those famous “FEMA Camps” they could do it in a week — and no Bushmaster would stop the tanks and armored personnel carriers.  It’s all just such a movie-induced wild west myth….

    • Mac2411

       Primitively armed Afghans and Syrian civilians with rifles seem to be doing just fine.  At least with a semi-automatic rifle one stands half a chance.

  • Eswaumama

    The thing that bothers me most about all this talk about gun control is the fact that the one time in this country when the government took guns from its citizens; those very citizens were beaten, murdered and forced to leave their homes and property. (1833 extermination order)   Once we allow the government to disarm its citizens, we will have a government that is no longer “of the people, by the people and for the people”, we will have a dictatorship.

    • Criscros

      Well said!

  • it

    It was just reported that an FBI profiler says the killer picked the location because he knew it was a spot where he could inflict the maximum damage with no resistance.

  • Ben

    An item of interest concerning stricter gun laws to our neighbor to the south.Mexico has the strictest gun laws in the western hemisphere

    http://www.rumormillnews.com/cgi-bin/forum.cgi?read=263594

  • Pat

    What is this perverse obsession so many Americans have with murderous weapons?  It is nothing less that immature psychotic escapism.  There cannot be any other explanation for seeing or practicing murder for entertainment.

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