‘A long night’ at Quantico Marine base: 3 dead in shooting

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When even American Military Bases have problems in eradicating Gun Crime, it’s time for #GunControlNow in the USA.The military has much more effective training and Gun handling requirements than the general public and not even they are able eradicate Gun Crime.

Washington (CNN) — A Marine shot and killed two of his fellow service members at a Virginia base Thursday night and then apparently killed himself, base officials said.

The incident took place at Marine Corps Base Quantico. The shooter gunned down a man and a woman, the spokesmen said. All are Marines — permanent personnel assigned to the officer candidate school.

Authorities did not disclose a motive and were investigating the incident. The identities of the victims were not immediately disclosed as authorities worked to notify next of kin.

“It’s been a long night,” Col David Maxwell, the base commander, said Friday.

The incident shocked the military community. It comes as the Corps grieves over another tragedy: the deaths of seven U.S. Marines in a training exercise in Nevada on Monday.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel “was saddened to learn of the shootings at Marine Corps Base Quantico,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said Friday.

“This tragedy, as well as the tragedy in Nevada earlier this week, took the lives of Marines who volunteered to serve their nation. His heart and his prayers are with them and their families. He believes that the legendary strength of the United States Marine Corps will ensure that they are forever remembered,” Little said.

Base lockdown

Early Marine accounts said the notification of the shooting came late Thursday when authorities found one dead victim.

Using a public address system, police announced a lockdown at the base and surrounded the building where the suspect was believed to be barricaded. They ordered everyone to stay in their homes, doors locked, they said.

Authorities from the base and Prince William County, Virginia, surrounded the shooter, who was in a barracks not far from where the first shooting occurred.

Law enforcement officials entered the barracks two hours later and discovered the shooter dead, apparently of a self-inflicted wound. The female victim was in the room with him, fatally shot.

The lockdown ended early Friday, a few hours after it started.

As dawn rose over the base, Maxwell told reporters that there were no barricades or a standoff but did not elaborate. The incident was confined to a single barracks at the candidate school.

He said “quick” police reaction helped resolve the situation, first reported at 10:30 p.m. via an emergency call. Soon, security was heightened and a mass notification was issued throughout the base. Base restrictions were lifted a few hours later.

Others in the officer candidate school were “accounted for and safe.”

“As we take care of our Marines and their families that are dealing with this tragedy, I’d also ask for the support of our neighbors, the community, and their thoughts and prayers as well for our Marines who have lost their comrades-in-arms,” Maxwell said.

Quantico, a historic hothouse of Marine ideas and training

Visitors to the base will see a grand statue: the Iwo Jima Monument. It gives all who enter pause about the important role the base has played training generations of Marines in forging military doctrine and fighting America’s wars.

The statue depicts the historic flag-raising on Mount Suribachi, on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima, during the famous World War II battle there.

The Quantico base, started during World War I, has been integral in training, education and forging military doctrine for America’s battles.

Early on, amphibious warfare was, the corps said, “conceived and perfected” there. The Marines there came up with the idea “of carrying troops from ship to shore by helicopter.”

Now, it’s home to the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, which conducts experiments in modern warfare.

“This is perhaps the only command whose mission touches the farthest reaches of the Corps; decisions made here impact Marines aboard ship, fighting in the Global War on Terrorism, on guard duty at embassies across the globe and reserve duty throughout the United States,” the Marines said.

Federal agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI, share training facilities there.

The base also has a reputation across popular culture as a key national security training location. Jack Ryan, writer Tom Clancy’s well-known character in novels and films, for example, took officer training there.

CNN’s Jason Hanna and Jake Carpenter contributed to this report.

NRA Fact Check: 10 Gun Myths Shot Down

10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down

Fact-checking some of the gun lobby’s favorite arguments shows they’re full of holes.

—By 

| Thu Jan. 31, 2013 4:01 AM PST

By cutting off federal funding for research and stymieing data collection and sharing, the National Rifle Association has tried to do to the study of gun violence what climate deniers have done to the science of global warming. No wonder: When it comes to hard numbers, some of the gun lobby’s favorite arguments are full of holes.

Myth #1: They’re coming for your guns.
Fact-check: No one knows the exact number of guns in America, but it’s clear there’s no practical way to round them all up (never mind that no one in Washington is proposing this). Yet if you fantasize about rifle-toting citizens facing down the government, you’ll rest easy knowing that America’s roughly 80 million gun owners already have the feds and cops outgunned by a factor of around 79 to 1.

gun ownership

Sources: Congressional Research Service (PDF), Small Arms Survey

Myth #2: Guns don’t kill people—people kill people.
Fact-check: People with more guns tend to kill more people—with guns. The states with the highest gun ownership rates have a gun murder rate 114% higher than those with the lowest gun ownership rates. Also, gun death rates tend to be higher in states with higher rates of gun ownership. Gun death rates are generally lower in states with restrictions such as assault-weapons bans or safe-storage requirements.

ownership vs gun death

Sources: PediatricsCenters for Disease Control and Prevention

Myth #3: An armed society is a polite society.
Fact-check: Drivers who carry guns are 44% more likely than unarmed drivers to make obscene gestures at other motorists, and 77% more likely to follow them aggressively.
• Among Texans convicted of serious crimes, those with concealed-handgun licenses were sentenced for threatening someone with a firearm 4.8 times more than those without.
• In states with Stand Your Ground and other laws making it easier to shoot in self-defense, those policies have been linked to a 7 to 10% increase in homicides.

Myth #4: More good guys with guns can stop rampaging bad guys.
Fact-check: Mass shootings stopped by armed civilians in the past 30 years: 0
• Chances that a shooting at an ER involves guns taken from guards: 1 in 5

Myth #5: Keeping a gun at home makes you safer.
Fact-check: Owning a gun has been linked to higher risks of homicidesuicide, and accidental death by gun.
• For every time a gun is used in self-defense in the home, there are 7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and 4 accidents involving guns in or around a home.
• 43% of homes with guns and kids have at least one unlocked firearm.
• In one experiment, one third of 8-to-12-year-old boyswho found a handgun pulled the trigger.

Myth #6: Carrying a gun for self-defense makes you safer.
Fact-check: In 2011, nearly 10 times more people were shot and killed in arguments than by civilians trying to stop a crime.
• In one survey, nearly 1% of Americans reported using guns to defend themselves or their property. However, a closer look at their claims found that more than 50% involved using guns in an aggressive manner, such as escalating an argument.
• A Philadelphia study found that the odds of an assault victim being shot were 4.5 times greater if he carried a gun. His odds of being killed were 4.2 times greater.

Myth #7: Guns make women safer.
Fact-check: In 2010, nearly 6 times more women were shot by husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners than murdered by male strangers.
• A woman’s chances of being killed by her abuser increase more than 7 times if he has access to a gun.
• One study found that women in states with higher gun ownership rates were 4.9 timesmore likely to be murdered by a gun than women in states with lower gun ownership rates.

Myth #8: “Vicious, violent video games” deserve more blame than guns.
Fact-check: So said NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre after Newtown. So what’s up with Japan?

  United States Japan
Per capita spending
on video games
$44 $55
Civilian firearms
per 100 people
88 0.6
Gun homicides
in 2008
11,030 11

Sources: PricewaterhouseCoopersSmall Arms Survey (PDF), UN Office on Drugs and Crime

Myth #9: More and more Americans are becoming gun owners. 
Fact-check: More guns are being sold, but they’re owned by a shrinking portion of the population.
• About 50% of Americans said they had a gun in their homes in 1973. Today, about 45% say they do. Overall, 35% of Americans personally own a gun.
• Around 80% of gun owners are men. On average they own 7.9 guns each.

Myth #10: We don’t need more gun laws—we just need to enforce the ones we have.
Fact-check:
 Weak laws and loopholes backed by the gun lobby make it easier to get guns illegally.
• Around 40% of all legal gun sales involve private sellers and don’t require background checks. 40% of prison inmates who used guns in their crimes got them this way.
• An investigation found 62% of online gun sellers were willing to sell to buyers who said they couldn’t pass a background check.
• 20% of licensed California gun dealers agreed to sell handguns to researchers posing as illegal “straw” buyers.
• The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has not had a permanent directorfor 6 years, due to an NRA-backed requirement that the Senate approve nominees.

This article has been updated.

Icons in gun ownership chart: Handgun designed by Simon Child, rifle designed by Nadav Barkan, shotgun designed by Ammar Ceker, all from the Noun Project

NRA Myth Check: A gun in the home increases personal safety = False

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NRA Myth: A gun in the home increases personal safety.

Fact: A gun in the home make homicide 2.7 times more likely. 

Summary

Keeping a gun in the home carries a murder risk 2.7 times greater than not keeping one, according to a study by Arthur Kellermann. The National Rifle Association has fiercely attacked this study, but it remains valid despite its criticisms. The study found that people are 21 times more likely to be killed by someone they know than a stranger breaking into the house. Half of the murders were over arguments or romantic triangles. The study also found that the increased murder rate in gun-owning households was entirely due to an increase in gun homicides only, not any other murder method. It further found that gun-owning households saw an increased murder risk by family or intimate acquaintances, not by strangers or non-intimate acquaintances. The most straightforward explanation is that the presence of a gun increases the possibility that a normal family fight or drinking binge will become deadly. No other explanation fits the above facts. 

Argument

Most people keep guns in their homes for self-protection. The image of an unknown criminal breaking into your house is an important one for gun advocates, because it justifies keeping a gun in the home. But to gun control advocates, a gun in the home means that a family fight or a drinking binge is more likely to turn deadly. Which view is more accurate? 

In an attempt to answer this question, a team led by Dr. Arthur Kellermann of Emory University conducted a survey of 388 homes that had experienced homicides. (1) They found that 76.7 percent of the victims were killed by a spouse, family member or someone they knew, and there was no forced entry into the home 84.3 percent of the time. Strangers comprised only 3.6 percent of the killers. However, the killer was never identified in 17.4 percent of the cases.

Of the 420 homicides they originally investigated, 96.4 percent were illegal. Only 3.6 percent were ruled legally excusable homicide (that is, self-defense).

After eliminating the impact of other variables like illegal drugs and domestic violence, the researchers found that the risk of getting killed was 2.7 times greater in homes with a gun than without them. No protective benefit of possessing a firearm was ever found, not even for a single one of the 14 subgroups studied. 

Needless to say, the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun advocates have fiercely attacked this survey. Kellermann’s work has been branded “junk science,” “unpublishable,” “biased,” “seriously flawed,” “fraudulent” and “grand malpractice.” The NRA also criticized the Centers for Disease Control for continuing to fund such anti-gun research, and the Republican Congress pressured the CDC to shut it down completely. Thus, the reaction of Republicans and the NRA to this controversial study was not to call for more studies to clarify the issue, but to censor all further scientific research. 

Pro-gun advocates respond that they are not promoting censorship, only objecting to wasting tax dollars on blatantly biased, deeply flawed research. Pro-gunners feel that the sound bites generated by this study will become part of a popular mythology against guns that will be hard to correct. But this objection is based on a faulty view of the research method. The best way to correct bad science is to subject it to expert criticism: namely, peer review. Kellermann’s study was, and it passed. Pro-gunners might then wish to criticize the peer review process. For example, they might accuse Kellermann’s peer reviewers of sharing his bias (although there are protocols in peer review to avoid this). The principled response, then, would be to examine and reform the peer review process. For example, Republicans in Congress might have called for pro-gun criminologists like Gary Kleck to be included in all future peer review of CDC-funded studies. Another principled response would be for the NRA — one of the richest organizations in America — to start funding its own research by way of rebuttal. But to shut down all further research is both censorship and anti-science. 

It is apparent from the attacks on Kellermann’s study that most of his critics have not even read it. Simply reading the original article in The New England Journal of Medicine (October 7, 1993) would answer 95 percent of their objections. The study was well-designed and is entirely valid. Like any scientific study, it has its limitations. It does not prove that guns cause a higher murder rate in the home, only that the two are associated for some reason. And there are more variables that need to be explored. But the Kellermann study is a legitimate addition to the small but growing scientific literature on the benefits and costs of domestic firearms.

The rest of this essay will be divided into two parts: a detailed description of the Kellermann survey, and a rebuttal of its criticisms.

The survey

Kellermann chose to conduct this survey using the “case-control method” (or CCM). This method examines the differences between two groups: one that possesses a certain trait, and another that does not. For instance, a researcher may compare a “case group” that has lung cancer to a “control group” that is free of the disease. After asking them questions about their behavior and environment, he may learn that the case group generally smokes, but the control group does not. Conclusion: smoking is correlated to lung cancer. In this instance, the arrow of causality is easy to determine, because it is unlikely that lung cancer causes people to start smoking. But sometimes the arrow of causality is more difficult to determine, as in the case of gun ownership and murder.

Kellermann’s team identified 388 victims (“case subjects”) who were killed in private homes. Surviving members of the household (“proxies”) formed the case group which answered the survey. The researchers also gave an identical survey to a control group of 388 other people, who were matched to the victims by age, race, sex and neighborhood.

The homicides which were studied came from three metropolitan areas. The first two were Shelby County, Tennessee (which includes Memphis), and King County, Washington (which includes Seattle), both from August 1987 to August 1992. The third was Cuyahoga County, Ohio (which includes Cleveland), from January 1990 to August 1992. King County is predominately white and enjoys a relatively high standard of living. Cuyahoga County is 25 percent African-American, as is 44 percent of Shelby County. The poverty levels of these counties were 5, 11 and 15 percent, respectively. (The national poverty rate in 1992 was 15 percent.)

The team originally identified 444 cases of homicide in the home, about a fourth of the total number of homicides for those counties. This number was reduced to 420 for the study for various reasons, then to 405 because a control couldn’t be found, and then to 388 because a proxy couldn’t be interviewed. The high response rate of case proxies (92.6 percent) and matching controls (80.6 percent) is typically considered to have minimized nonresponse bias.

The survey asked 31 questions about the subjects’ environment and behavior. The results are listed below. The first two columns reflect the percentage of those who answered yes to the question. The third column reflects the crude odds that a murder would be more likely for those who answered yes. For example, for the first question, murder was 2.4 times more likely in a household where any member drank alcohol. An odds ratio of 1.0 represents no extra risk. Keep in mind that the crude odds are confounded by other variables, and by themselves do not tell the whole story. Another analytical step is needed to arrive closer to the truth.

                              Case      Control    Crude odds
Behavioral factors            Subjects  Subjects   Ratio
---------------------------------------------------------
Any household member drank     73.3%     55.9%      2.4
    alcoholic beverages
Case subject or control drank  62.8      41.9       2.6
    alcoholic beverages
Drinking caused problems       24.8       5.7       7.0
    in the household
Any household member had        9.0       0.8      10.7
    trouble at work because
    of drinking
Case subject or control had     5.5       0.3      20.0
    at work because of
    drinking
Any household member           11.4       2.3       9.8
    hospitalized because of
    drinking
Case subject or control         7.6       0.5       14.0
    hospitalized because of
    drinking
Any household member used      31.3       6.0        9.0
    illicit drugs
Case subject or control        20.3       4.2        6.8
    used illicit drugs
Any physical fights in the     25.3       3.4        8.9
    home during drinking
Any household member hit or    31.8       5.7        7.9
    hurt in a fight in the
    home
Any family member required     17.3       2.1       10.2
    medical attention because
    of a fight in the home
Any adult household member     29.9       18.8       2.1
    involved in a physical
    fight outside the home
Any household member arrested  52.7       23.4       4.2
Case subject or control        36.0       15.7       3.5
    arrested

Environmental Factors
Home Rented                    70.4       47.6       5.9
Public Housing                 11.1        9.8       1.5
Case subject or control        26.8       11.9       3.4
    lived alone
Deadbolt locks                 68.8       75.3       0.8
Window bars                    19.2       20.9       0.8
Metal Security Door            25.4       26.8       0.9
Burglar alarm                   7.1       11.1       0.6
Controlled security access     13.9        9.8       2.3
    to residence
Dog or dogs in home            24.2       22.4       1.1
Gun or guns in home            45.4       35.8       1.6
    Handgun                    35.7       23.3       1.9
    Shotgun                    13.6       16.8       0.7
    Rifle                      12.2       13.9       0.8
Any gun kept unlocked          29.6       17.8       2.1
Any gun kept loaded            26.7       12.5       2.7
Guns kept primarily for        32.6       22.2       1.7
    self-defense

The above chart is an example of “univariate analysis,” or a straight comparison between the two groups. But this analysis is incomplete. There are many variables that simultaneously contribute to the odds of a person being murdered: drug use, domestic violence, criminal history, level of protection, etc. A person who answers yes to the question “Does anyone in the house use illicit drugs?” might be nine times more likely to be murdered, but that doesn’t eliminate all the other variables that also contribute to the total murder risk. To isolate the risk attributed to drug use alone, researchers need to perform “multivariate analysis,” which zeroes out all these other factors. That way, we can learn how drug use in and of itself raises the murder risk.

Kellermann’s team found only six variables that were strong enough to be included in the final model. They found that the following variables were associated with the following increased murder risks:

                                Murder risk,
Variable                        Odds adjusted ratio
---------------------------------------------------
Illicit drug use                5.7 times
Being a renter                  4.4
Household member hit or
  hurt in a fight in the home   4.4
Living alone                    3.7
Guns in the house               2.7
Household member arrested       2.5

If there were a protective benefit to having a gun in the home, this survey would have found it. After all, if the survey could detect an increased murder risk from thepresence of a gun in the home, there’s no reason it couldn’t from the absence of one as well. But the team found no protective benefits of a gun in the home whatsoever, for any of the subgroups studied. 

Of all the methods of murder, guns were responsible for 49.8 percent of the victims killed at home. In homes that kept a gun, the overall murder risk was 2.7 times greater, but for gun homicides it was 4.8, while for non-gun homicides it was 1.2. Notice that 1.2 is not significantly different from 1, so there was no increased risk for non-gun homicides. In other words, people who kept a gun in the home were at higher risk for gun homicides only, not any other type of homicide. This is an important point, because it strongly suggests that gun availability tends to turn ordinary family arguments into something fatal, rather than the murder victims knew they were at risk and armed themselves with a gun. 

Alcohol was not included in the multivariate analysis, despite its strong association in the univariate analysis, because alcohol was also related to all the other variables in the final model. Including alcohol in the final model did not substantially alter the results. Furthermore, the odds-adjusted ratio of alcohol was not significantly greater than 1.

The researchers also conducted a stratified analysis of their final model, which found that the link between guns and homicide existed in all 14 subgroups studied. This included women as well as men, whites as well as blacks, and the old as well as the young. Most tellingly, they found the strongest association between guns and homicide among family members and intimate acquaintances (7.8 times more likely). Guns were much less associated to homicides by acquaintances, unidentified intruders, or strangers (1.8 times). Again, this supports the interpretation that guns allow family fights to turn deadly. Here is a complete list of the murder risk by subgroup:

                          Murder risk,
Subgroup                  Adjusted odds ratio
---------------------------------------------
Sex
   Female                 3.6 times
   Male                   2.3
Race
   White                  2.7
   Black                  2.9
Age
   15-40                  3.4
   Over 40                2.3
Suspect related to or
intimate with victim:
   Yes                    7.8
   No                     1.8
Evidence of forced entry
   Yes                    2.5
   No                     2.8
Victim resisted assailant
   Yes                    3.0
   No                     3.1
Method of homicide
   Firearm                4.8
   Other                  1.2

Also revealing are the circumstances surrounding the 420 homicides:

Characteristic                   Percent of victims
---------------------------------------------------
Scene
   Inside residence                88.8%
   Within immediate property       11.2
Sex of victim
   Female                          36.9
   Male                            63.1
Race or ethnic group of victim
   White                           33.3
   Black                           61.9
   Native American, Eskimo, Aleut   1.0
   Asian or Pacific Islander        1.7
   Other                            2.1
Age of victim (years)
   15-24                           13.8
   25-40                           40.7
   41-60                           25.2
   Over 61                         20.2
Circumstances
   Altercation or quarrel          44.0
   Romantic triangle                6.9
   Murder-suicide                   4.5
   Felony-related                  21.9
   Drug-dealing                     7.6
   Homicide only                   13.3
   Other                            1.7
Relationship of offender to victim
Spouse 16.7 Intimate acquaintance 13.8 First-degree relative 9.5 Other relative 2.9 Roommate 2.9 Friend or acquaintance 31.0 Police officer 1.0 Stranger 3.6 Unknown (unidentified suspect) 17.4 Other 1.4 Method of homicide Handgun 42.9 Rifle 2.4 Shotgun 3.6 Unknown firearm 1.0 Knife or sharp instrument 26.4 Blunt instrument 11.7 Strangulation or suffocation 6.4 Burns, smoke, scalding 2.4 Other 3.3 Victim resisted assailant Yes 43.8 No 33.3 Not noted 22.9 Evidence of forced entry Yes 14.0 No 84.3 Not noted 1.7 Legally excusable homicide Yes 3.6 No 96.4

Several points about this chart are noteworthy. The first is that at least 76.7 percent of the murderers were relatives, friends or acquaintances of the victim. In fact, the victim’s murderer was 21 times more likely to be a relative or acquaintance than a stranger. Even in the 14 percent of the cases involving forced entry, the vast majority of the intruders were known to the victim. The threat of forced entry is the most commonly cited reason for possessing a domestic firearm, but the researchers found no protective benefit for this subgroup either.

The researchers write: “Efforts to increase home security have largely focused on preventing unwanted entry, but the greatest threat to the lives of household members appears to come from within.”

Of the 388 homicides surveyed, 21 victims died while unsuccessfully trying to defend themselves with a gun. Only 15 of the deaths were ruled justifiable homicide or legal self-defense, and four of these were by the police. 

The authors did present their study with several limitations. First, they acknowledged that they limited their study of homicides to those which occurred in the home, their goal simply being to measure the effectiveness of gun protection in the home. Homicides at other locations (such as bars, work or the streets) were not counted. Therefore, the dynamics of homicide in these locations might be quite different.

Second, they acknowledged that their research was conducted in urban settings that lacked a substantial Hispanic population. The dynamics of homicide in that community therefore might be quite different.

Third, they acknowledged that the arrow of causality could point in the opposite direction in some of the cases. For example, a person might acquire a gun in response to a specific threat. If the threat was then carried out, the correlation between the gun and the murder could be partly attributed to the failure of the weapon to provide protection.

Fourth, they acknowledged that a third, unidentified factor might be responsible for both gun possession and murder risk. For example, the victims may have had violent, aggressive personalities or some other psychological disorder that predisposed them to both greater gun possession and murder. The authors note that they included several behavioral markers for aggression and violence in their survey, but they did not conduct a full “psychological autopsy” given the impractical nature of such a task. Still, they note that “a link between gun ownership and any psychological tendency toward violence or victimization would have to be extremely strong to account for an adjusted odds ratio of 2.7.”

So, what are the study’s conclusions? The authors write:

    “Despite the widely held belief that guns are effective for protection, our results suggest that they actually pose a substantial threat to members of the household. People who keep guns in their homes appear to be at greater risk of homicide at the hands of a family member or intimate acquaintance. We did not find evidence of a protective effect of keeping a gun in the home, even in the small subgroup of cases that involved forced entry.”

It is important to note that Kellermann’s findings agree with many other studies. For example, the FBI reports that in 1993, only 1.7 percent of all handgun murders were justifiable homicides. Kellermann’s team found that only 3.6 percent of the 420 homicides it studied were justifiable. The FBI found 19.1 percent of all homicides to be felony-related; Kellermann found 21.9 percent of those in the home to be felony-related. In 1994, the FBI found that only 13 percent of all murder victims were killed by strangers. Kellermann found that 3.6 percent of the domestic homicides were strangers and 17.4 percent were never identified. The FBI found that 12 percent of all killers in 1994 were related to the victim; Kellermann found this figure to be 12.4 percent in domestic homicides. (2)

Kellermann’s research also confirms numerous studies like the one done by Linda Saltzman, which found that assaults by family members or intimate acquaintances are far more fatal when the weapon is a gun. (3) There are also many cohort and interrupted time-series studies that demonstrate a strong link between gun availability and homicide rates in the community. (4) Kellermann’s study has now confirmed this correlation at the individual household level as well.

Criticisms of the study

Pro-gun advocates have raised a number of objections to this survey. The following are actual arguments taken from the Internet and the NRA: (5)

1. “99.8 percent of the protective uses of guns do not involve homicides,” says Paul Blackman of the NRA. Defensive gun uses include waving the weapon, firing warning shots, wounding the intruder, etc.

It is simply untrue that researchers cannot measure the nonfatal protective benefits of firearms, or that Kellermann’s survey failed to detect such a benefit. If firearms deter, scare away or wound intruders, then the murder victimization rate of gun owners should be lower than non-gun owners. The absence of a gun in the home would have been recognized as a murder risk, rather than the presence of a gun.

Kellermann’s case-control method was ideally suited to detect such benefits, if they existed. For example, suppose that guns save 100,000 lives a year, through nonfatal means. Assuming a perfect protection rate, we would see no homicides in households with guns, and 100,000 in households without them. A case-control survey would find the risk associated with guns to be 0.0 — a perfect benefit. But suppose (more realistically) that guns protect their owners only half the time. There might then be, say, 100,000 homicides in homes with guns and 200,000 in homes without them. A researcher using the case-control method would find that 33 percent of the cases and 50 percent of the controls owned guns, for an odds ratio of .50. Being less than 1, that’s a very strong benefit.

Of course, Kellermann’s survey found quite the opposite — a risk 2.7 times greater.

2. Guns do not emit magic rays that control people’s minds, or magnetize murderers to the doorstep.

This strawman argument is based on a false stereotype. Over 76 percent of the homicides were committed by a relative or acquaintance of the victim, and only 3.6 percent were verified as strangers breaking in. Furthermore, arguments and romantic triangles comprised half the homicides. But the most important point here is that a gun in the home only raised the risk of gun homicide — not homicide by any other means. The most straightforward explanation is that greater gun availability transformed a normal family fight into something much more deadly.

3. People threatened by violence bought guns to defend themselves, hence the correlation between gun ownership and murder.

This is possible, but the number would only be very small, for the following reasons. The study already controlled for domestic violence, so the only way this could happen is if the murderer threatened the life of the victim before things escalated into violence. The victim would then have to buy a gun, which would fail to protect.

Several things make this unlikely. First, we would expect a history of violence to precede any threats or attempts on a person’s life, which is, after all, the ultimate form of violence. Second, the study showed that gun ownership resulted in an increased risk in gun homicides only, not any other type of homicides. Why would the murderer restrict himself to a gun, and then only if the victim had a gun? Third, this makes a poor case for gun deterrence, since the correlation is only possible when the gun fails to protect. Again, the researchers found no protective benefits of gun ownership.

4. Kellermann’s study didn’t document whether a firearm used in a particular homicide was the same one kept in the home, or whether it might have been carried in by the murderer.

True, the study doesn’t say, but the study’s findings make it logically impossible for a significant number of these guns to have been brought in from the outside. The study found that keeping a gun in the house raised the chances of gun homicide only, not any other kind of homicide. It also found that it raised the chances of being killed by a family member or intimate acquaintance, not a stranger or non-intimate acquaintance. We can therefore eliminate the possibility that owning a gun raises the risk of a stranger breaking in (and then only with a gun!). The only alternative is that a family member or intimate acquaintance brought a second gun into the house on the day of the murder (any longer-term storage would have classified it as a “gun in the house”). That all murderers using handguns would do this seems highly implausible. It is also unlikely that these live-in murderers would restrict themselves to guns; we should expect to see other murder methods employed as well. The only plausible conclusion is that the vast majority of the guns used for homicide were the ones kept in the house.

Pro-gun advocates might try a different tack. If an angry spouse has a gun, the other might seek protection by buying a gun also. However, this strategy had to fail for the survey to find a correlation between gun ownership and homicide. This does nothing to rescue the pro-gunner’s point that guns protect their owners.

5. Proxies for the murder victim were not asked if the gun had previously been used for self-defense.

What this objection is asking us to imagine is this: a gun prevents a murder from happening in, say, nine cases. But on the tenth it fails (by necessity, to produce the murder victim in question). If guns really provided this kind of protection, we could easily imagine that one of the previous nine murder attempts would have been successful, had the victim not possessed a gun. In that case, non-gun owners would have seen a higher murder rate. This is something the study would have found (see point 1), but it did not; it found a higher murder rate among gun owners. Pro-gunners might then argue that an individual facing a likely threat sought protection by buying a gun, hence the higher correlation. But this is the same argument rebutted in point 3. Ultimately, the pro-gunners starting assumption is incorrect. Guns do not prevent a series of threats, one of which ultimately succeeds; rather, guns enhance the possibility of murder.

6. “These people were highly susceptible to homicide,” says Paul Blackman of the NRA. “We know that because they were killed.”

If there is an Illogic Hall of Shame, this remark deserves to be emblazoned above its front entrance. By this reasoning, we should not put seat belts in cars, because people killed in car crashes were susceptible to those accidents anyway. 

What Blackman is doing here is evoking a general risk for murder, while ignoring its specific risk multipliers. You may, in general, have an antagonistic person in your life given to flashes of murderous temper. But there are specific factors that may increase the risk of murder. Does he drink? Use drugs? Commit crime? Own a gun? Increasing any of these behaviors increases the risk. But it makes no sense to increase the risk multiplier, let someone get murdered, and then argue that the multiplier was not at fault, since the victim was obviously susceptible to murder anyway.

This argument also ignores one of the study’s findings, that a gun in the home increased the risk of gun homicide only, and not any other method of homicide.

7. Of course if someone gets shot in their home, there’s bound to be a gun in the home. And drowning victims are always found near water.

This is a variation of the Blackman argument above. Water is not the only thing correlated with drowning. There are all the usual risk multipliers, such as a lack of lifeguards, life jackets, warning signs, adult supervision, etc. And notice that this analogy is incorrect. The analogy of guns isn’t to water; it’s to a lack of lifeguards. The analogy to water is actually murder in general. 

8. The majority of the homicides were not committed by guns, so could not have been committed by Kellermann’s scary “guns in the home.”

Homes that kept guns experienced an increase in homicides, but this increase was entirely due to gun-related homicides, not homicides by any other method. This objection misses the point.

9. The researchers did not include in their analysis those cases where the home-owner shot a non-resident intruder.

These cases were rare, but even so, this objection is irrelevant. The protective benefits of a gun would have still shown up in the different victimization rates of gun-owning and gun-less households. (See point 1.)

10. This study was conducted by medical doctors who were out of their league; this is an issue best left for criminologists. 

Epidemiologists are highly experienced at using the case-control method to determine risk factors. This is how cigarette smoking was linked to lung cancer, for example. The statistical method is the same no matter what the risk factor, be it cigarettes, a virus, a missing vitamin or a gun. A good analogy is that of an astronomer using optics technology to make a breakthrough in optometry.

11. The use of the case-control method allows for spurious associations.

This objection is bogus, since it ignores the role of multivariate analysis.

12. A disproportionate number of survey respondents were criminals, hence the correlation between gun ownership and murder.

But the survey controlled for criminal backgrounds and domestic violence. The gun/murder correlation was reached after multivariate analysis factored these variables out.

13. The study was conducted in urban areas, which have high crime. This would promote both gun ownership and death in violent crimes.

But the survey controlled for neighborhoods. The researchers matched the control subjects by neighborhood to the case subjects.

14. Most of the victims were black, and blacks have a higher murder rate.

Irrelevant. The study controlled for race.

15. The victims typically had stunningly different lifestyles from the controls: more drinking, crime, drug use, domestic violence, etc.

Again, this objection ignores that multivariate analysis factored out all these variables. The “2.7 times” statistic measures gun possession alone (within the limits of the study’s 31 variables).

16. The survey failed to ask about other variables.

The survey asked questions about 31 variables, but in a complex world it’s always possible to think up more. Kellermann asked about the most obvious ones; even then, only six retained significance in the final analysis. If there were indeed a “missing variable,” it would have to be extremely strong — and probably extremely obvious as well — to produce a murder risk of 2.7.

17. The survey failed to determine the strength of the variables (severity of drug use, domestic violence, crime, etc.)

Indeed, the study asked only “yes or no” questions about problems in the home. For example, it asked whether any member of the household had been arrested, without determining the severity of the criminal charge. However, just because the individual questions did not control for severity does not mean the entire study didn’t, since it asked a total of 15 questions about behavior, many closely related to each other. But this is really an argument about refining the study’s results, not overturning its conclusions, which would be highly unlikely.

18. The study underestimated the amount of drug use or other domestic problems, which was really the cause of an increased murder risk for gun owners.

Not true. After the researchers controlled for these other risks, the murder risk associated with guns increased, from 1.6 in the univariate analysis to 2.7 in the multivariate analysis. If the study had underestimated the amount of drug use or other domestic problems, then the true risk associated with guns would be even greater.

19. The number of guns in the control homes were underreported. 

If this were true, this would indeed artificially raise the murder risk of having a gun in the home. Conversely, if the number of guns in the case homes were underreported, then this would artificially lower the murder risk associated with guns. But the authors do not believe this was a problem. First, in two of the three counties they studied, they compared their survey results to a pilot study of homes listed as the addresses of owners of registered handguns. The survey respondents’ answers were found to be generally valid. Second, the rate of gun ownership by the control respondents in all three counties was comparable to estimates derived by previous social surveys and Cook’s gun-prevalence index. (6)

Of course, respondents might not have disclosed possession of illegal guns. Pro-gunners argue that the case subjects were prevented from underreporting the possession of such guns, because murder itself is almost impossible to underreport. (It’s difficult to hide either a corpse or a person’s absence). And a murder causes the police to search — and usually find — the murder weapon, so the truth about gun ownership in the case homes probably came out. However, control subjects have not been investigated by the police for guns, nor do they desire such a search, so they may lie about possessing an illegal gun. The researchers were aware of this possibility, and they assured the respondents that their answers were confidential, and that they could freely refuse to answer any questions. Even so, only a very few respondents refused to answer a question. Ultimately, the possibility of underreporting remains pure speculation at the moment, and further research needs to clarify this question.

Conclusion

The Kellermann study is valid, if incomplete — as any study must necessarily be. More research needs to be done on other possible variables contributing to the murder rate, although Kellermann has apparently identified the most important ones. The results could be refined by determining the severity of some factors, like criminal background. And it would be good to reconfirm the honesty of the respondents’ answers. But the study itself is sound, and gun-control advocates can use it with confidence.

 Return to Overview

Endnotes:

1. Arthur Kellermann et. al., “Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home,” The New England Journal of Medicine, October 7, 1993, pp. 1084-1091.

2. Federal Bureau of Investigations, Crime in the United States, annual.

3. Linda Saltzman, et. al., “Weapon Involvement and Injury Outcomes in Family and Intimate Assaults,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 1992;267, pp. 3043-7.

4. A.J. Reiss, Jr. and J.A. Roth, eds., Understanding and Preventing Violence: Panel on the Understanding and Control of Violent Behavior (Washington D.C.: National Academy Press, 1993), pp. 42-97; P.J. Cook, “The Effect of Gun Availability on Robbery and Robber Murder: A Cross Section Study of Fifty Cities,” Policy Stud Rev Annu 1979;3, pp. 743-81; J.H. Sloan, A.L. Kellermann, D.T. Reay, et. al., “Handgun Regulations, Crime, Assaults, and Homicide: a Tale of Two Cities,” New England Journal of Medicine, 1988;319, pp. 1256-62; C. Loftin, et. al., “Effects of Restrictive Licensing of Handguns on Homicide and Suicide in the District of Columbia,” New England Journal of Medicine, 1991;325, pp. 1615-20.

5. I am deeply indebted to Tim Lambert of the University of New South Wales for providing many of these objections and rebuttals, which came from his archived postings to the Internet newsgroup talk.politics.guns. Many of the responses here are based on his answers.

6. J.D. Wright, P. Rossi, K. Daly, E. Weber-Burdin, “Weapons, crime and violence in America: a literature review and research agenda,” (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1983), pp. 212-60, 361-411; P.J. Cook, “The effect of gun availability on robbery and robber murder: a cross section study of fifty cities,” Policy Stud Rev Annu 1979; 3, pp. 743-81.

The US Constitution Does Not Prevent Prevent & May Encourage Gun Control

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In the wake of the mass killing of school children and school employees in Newtown, Connecticut, One Million Moms 4 Gun Control  and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence  have sponsored marches and rallies across the country to demand local, state, and federal gun control initiatives and legislation. Unfortunately, at the same time as the gun control protests gain momentum, gun purchases in the United States, especially purchases of the AR-15  military style semi-automatic rifle used in the Newtown killings have skyrocketed. Gun dealers and advocates are using the possibility of further legal restriction on gun ownership to generate record sales and profits.

In January, New York State  became the first state following the Newtown massacre to enact stricter gun regulations. The law put in place an immediate ban on semi-automatic rifles and pistols, shotguns, and other firearms with military-style features. It also requires universal background checks prior to the sale of all guns and ammunition, makes it easier for officials to confiscate firearms from the mentally ill, and increases penalties for gun-related crimes.

President Obama  has endorsed similar national legislation to curb “the epidemic of gun violence in this country” including universal background checks for all gun buyers; a crackdown on gun trafficking; a ban on military-style assault weapons; and a ban on ammunition magazines holding more than 10 bullets. Although the President has also found it politically expedient to promote himself as a gun hobbyist .

Meanwhile the National Rifle Association  has been busy leading a counter-assault. Wayne La Pierre, the executive director of the NRA accused President Obama of undermining 2nd amendment constitutional principles, demonizing law-abiding gun owners, and trying to “every private personal firearms transaction right under the thumb of the federal government.” According to Mr. La Pierre, if Obama and gun control advocates get their way, only criminals will be able to have weapons and we will all be subject to tyranny.

One question that concerns everyone involved in the current debate on gun control is how will the conservative majority on the United States Supreme Court , which claims to follow a strict “textualist” interpretation of the Constitution, rule on the constitutionality of local, state, and national restrictions on gun ownership. Two recent court decisions provide a clue to what these justices think, but I believe even a conservative court has the ability to rule in favor of even the strictest gun restrictions.

In a 2008 decision, District of Columbia v. Heller , the court held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes on federally administered territory such as the nation’s capital. In 2010, in McDonald v. Chicago , the court held that the right of the people to “keep and bear arms” applied to the states as well.

In general I find most “textualist” arguments forwarded by the Supreme Court’s right-wing activists to be self-justifying contorted attempts to discover constitutional support for positions they already hold. However, when looking at the Second Amendment, I think it is useful, even fun, to play along with the textualists game and, to borrow from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, hoist them by their own petard.

An examination of the Constitution shows a very clear and precise distinction between the term “people” and “person” or “persons.” The authors of the Constitution use the individual term “person” or “persons” twenty-two times in the original document but the collective term “people” only twice, in the Preamble and in Article 1 Section 1. The Preamble begins “We the People of the United States.” This country is not established by individual states nor is established by individual persons. It is a nation established by a collective “People.”

According to Article 1 Section 1, the collective “People” of each state chose members of the House of Representatives, but individual participation or membership in this People is not defined or discussed and the rights of individual persons can legally be limited. In the early years of the republic states placed residential, citizenship, religious, property-holding, racial, gender, and age qualifications on voting by individual “persons.” Constitutional amendments had to be passed to grant the right to vote to blacks, women, and 18-year-olds and to outlaw poll taxes. My eight-year old grandchildren still cannot vote and probably should not.

In this textualist view, the right of the “people” is a general statement of principle not a specific or individual right. This distinction can be seen in the Fourth Amendment where the collective right of the people “to be secure in their [individual] persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the [individual] persons or things to be seized.”

The importance of individual rights for persons is made explicit in the Fifth Amendment. “No person [emphasis added] shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person [emphasis added] be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

In this textualist view the Second Amendment, which states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” is clearly referring to the collective “people”; the collective nation has a right to defend itself. However, there is no specific prohibition on limiting the access of individual “persons” to dangerous weapons.

Gun control and restrictions on ownership are a political decision left to elected officials, not constitutional principles. This interpretation of the Constitution and the Second Amendment provides an opportunity for even the most conservative Supreme Court Justices to support significant new gun restrictions approved by elected officials in local, state, and federal governments.

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NRA Sues Over New York Gun Control

The National Rifle Association's New York state affiliate filed a lawsuit Thursday contesting the constitutionality of the SAFE Act.
The National Rifle Association’s New York state affiliate filed a lawsuit Thursday contesting the constitutionality of the SAFE Act.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NRA: The governor and state legislature “usurped … the democratic process”
  • The new laws were the first in the nation to be enacted after the Newtown school massacre
  • The NRA thinks the USA does not have enough guns, assault rifles, machines guns with the laws on the books.
  • The NRA thinks there is a Constitutional right to murder by lunatics carryng guns in the USA.
  • The NRA is a lobbying organization dedicated to extending Gun Crime, Gun Death & Gun Violence in the USA
  • The NRA tramples on the protections offered by the US Constitution

The National Rifle Association’s New York state affiliate filed a federal lawsuit Thursday in Buffalo contesting the constitutionality of the SAFE Act, the sweeping gun-control bill Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law in January, the group announced in a press release.

The new laws fortify New York’s existing assault weapons ban, limit the number of bullets allowed in ammunition magazines and strengthen rules that govern the mentally ill, which includes a requirement to report potentially harmful behavior.

“Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature usurped the legislative and democratic process in passing these extreme anti-gun measures with no committee hearings and no public input,” Chris Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action said in the release.

“This obvious disrespect for New Yorkers and their Second Amendment rights will not be tolerated,” he added.

New York’s new laws include a statewide gun registry and a uniform licensing standard, altering the current system in which each county or municipality sets its own standard.

Residents are now restricted to purchasing ammunition magazines that carry seven bullets, rather than 10.

The laws were the first in the nation to be enacted after the Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre.

New York authorities said last week they had reached a deal with 23 gun show operators in the state after an investigation revealed weapons were sold without proper background checks.

 

By Kristina Sgueglia, CNN
March 22, 2013 — Updated 0126 GMT (0926 HKT)

 

 

The NRA Uses Uppity Obama Card to Sell More Guns

 

Boy, what’s it with the NRA and their disdain for the very real threat of assassination that black leaders face? First they put Gun Appreciation Day on MLK weekend, because there’s no time like the public mourning of an important leader felled by a racist gunman to celebrate guns. Now they’re trying to drum up resentment about the first black family  in the White House having the same security detail that all presidential families get.

Needless to say, the ass-cover to deny the obvious racism and general eliminationist bent of the NRA’s base is an argument so profoundly stupid that even the dumbest ass gun nuts won’t buy it. No one buys the notion that the President has security detail because he’s an “elitist” who is hoarding all the awesome guns for himself. Everyone knows that it’s a direct and necessary reaction to a society where political assassination is sadly common , in no small part because it’s ridiculously easy for any asshole with a vendetta to get a gun. Josh Marshall had the appropriate response :

 

There are so many vile things about this ad. But one thing to note is the ad is really only designed to appeal to people who have a deep — really deep — animosity toward the President. The sort of people who don’t think he and his daughters should be in the White House and wish him the sort of ill citizens should never wish upon a freely elected head of state.

Exactly. This ad isn’t making the case for guns—if anything, drawing attention to the ever-present danger that the President lives under of being shot is an argument for more gun control—but it’s just feeding off the not even subtly racist obsession right wingers have with telling each other that it’s obscene that the President and his family get to live the same lifestyle as all the white Presidents and their families. (Example! ) You know, even though it’s more humble than that of their preferred candidate who lost and had to return home to his dressage horse.

This is what the NRA’s sole purpose is: To drum up racist resentments and gender anxieties so that their industry funders can sell more guns to their customers. This ad, which I’m not linking, might as well just come out and say it: “Mad that the President thinks he’s all that because he’s the President? Well, why not buy a gun? It won’t make you President, but it will give you the illusion of having more power.”

The NRA is an ad company pushing a marketing ploy that’s more transparent than Axe Body Spray’s. It’s time to start treating them like it. The NRA is a lobby that gets paid to produce results for Gun Manufacturers in the USA.

The NRA shits on the American Constitution. The NRA Lies. The NRA is a bunch of Fascist Rednecks who buy Congressmen by the dozen. The NRA hates black people and supported Gun Control when it applied to Black Americans.

The NRA, like many other far right, fascist groups can not tolerate that the President of The United States is an African-American. The demographics in the USA are changing. George W Bush will be the last GOP President in the USA.

Wayne Lapierre is a liar and a psychopath. Ted Nugent is a fucktard that has been lobotomized.

The USA deserves Gun Control Now, the repeal of the Second Amendment, a comprehensive Federal Gun Control Law and the enforcement of every single Gun Control Law on the books today. The NRA’s day has come and gone. Americans are taking action, town by town, city by city, state by state.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper To Sign Landmark Gun Control Bills

Gun Control Colorado

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is pictured during an interview with the Associated Press at his office in the Capitol in Denver. Hickenlooper will sign legislation Wednesday, March 20, 2013 that sets limits on ammunition magazines and expands background checks for firearms, marking a Democratic victory in a state where gun ownership is a treasured right and Second Amendment debate has played out in the wake of two mass shootings. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)

DENVER — Exactly eight months after dozens of people were shot in a suburban Denver movie theater, Gov. John Hickenlooper will sign new restrictions on firearms in Colorado, signaling a historic change for Democrats who traditionally shied away from taking on gun control in a state where owning a gun is as common as owning a care in some rural areas.

The Democratic governor plans to sign new limits on ammunition magazines and a landmark expansion of background checks on Wednesday in his office, surrounded by legislative sponsors and their guests. The signings will mark a significant moment in Colorado, a state with a moderate streak and a pioneer tradition of self-reliance.

Over the last month, Colorado has been viewed as a test for how far the nation is willing to go on new restrictions after the horror of shootings at a Connecticut elementary school and in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. There, eight months ago on July 20, a gunman dressed in body armor and carrying an arsenal of firearms killed 12 people and wounded dozens of others.

The shootings convinced Hickenlooper, a gun rights advocate, and other state Democrats to take on gun control.

“I am happy the governor is signing common-sense legislation that reduces gun violence in our communities by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, domestic violence offenders and the seriously mentally ill,” said Democratic Rep. Rhonda Fields, who represents the district where the theater shooting happened.

Colorado Democrats have succeeded where other lawmakers outside of New York have not.

This month, Washington State’s Democrat-controlled House couldn’t advance a universal background check bill. A bill requiring background checks at gun shows in New Mexico also failed in the Democrat-led Legislature.

The bills getting Hickenlooper’s signature are centerpieces of a package of Democratic gun bills introduced this session. With his signature, gun sales and transfers between private parties and purchases conducted online will be subjected to background checks. Ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds will be banned and subject to criminal penalties. Both bills take effect July 1.

Lawmakers debated firearms proposals after the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, and began requiring background checks for buyers at gun shows. But nothing they did then was as sweeping as the proposals they took up this year.

Republicans have warned that voters will punish Hickenlooper and other Democrats who voted in favor of the measures.

“I’m telling you, they have overreached, and there are going to be electoral consequences,” said Republican Sen. Greg Brophy.

A Colorado-based manufacturer of magazines plans to relocate because of the new restrictions. Republicans have bashed Democrats, saying their proposal to limit magazine sizes will drive jobs from the state, and ultimately won’t prevent criminals from getting larger magazines in other states.

Some county sheriffs also opposed the new background checks, arguing they’re unenforceable and endanger people’s Second Amendment rights. Two ballot measures have already been proposed to try to undo the gun restrictions.

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Associated Press Writer Kristen Wyatt contributed.

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By IVAN MORENO 03/20/13 03:55 AM ET EDT 

 #GunControlNow #GunNuts #Repeal2A

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