“While the act burdens the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights, it is substantially related to the important governmental interest of public safety and crime control,” Covello ruled.
Jan. 9, 2013: Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy delivers his State of the State address to the House and the Senate at the Capitol.AP
A federal judge upheld Connecticut’s gun control law on Thursday, saying the sweeping measure is constitutional even as he acknowledged the Second Amendment rights of gun owners who sued to block it.
The law, which Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed last April after months of negotiations in the legislature, was not entirely written “with the utmost clarity,” U.S. District Judge Alfred Covello said in his 47-page decision. Still, several provisions are “not impermissibly vague in all of their applications and, therefore, the challenged portions of the legislation are not unconstitutionally vague.”
Lawmakers, responding to the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 20 children and six educators on Dec. 14, 2012, banned the sale of large-capacity magazines and made more weapons illegal under the state’s assault weapons ban.
“While the act burdens the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights, it is substantially related to the important governmental interest of public safety and crime control,” Covello ruled.
Brian Stapleton, the lawyer for a group of Connecticut organizations that support gun rights, pistol permit holders and gun sellers, said he will appeal.
“This is a disappointing decision, but not entirely surprising,” he said. “This is a long way from over.”
Stapleton said the ruling acknowledges the plaintiff’s Second Amendment rights “before it guts them.”
Malloy said in a statement that the court made the right decision.
“The common-sense measures we enacted last session will make our state safer and I am grateful for the court’s seal of approval,” the governor said.
Attorney General George Jepsen said the law is “entirely appropriate, sensible and lawful.”
“We will continue to vigorously defend them in the event of any appeal that may be filed of this decision,” he said.
Statpleton said Covello’s acknowledgment that firearms magazines are “in common use” and have a lawful purpose are important facts that bolster the argument of opponents to gun restrictions. He also cited Covello’s statement that the Connecticut law “levies a substantial burden” on the plaintiff’s Second Amendment rights.
But the Hartford-based judge said Connecticut’s law does not “amount to a complete prohibition on firearms for self-defense in the home.”
The law does not prohibit possession of handguns, the “quintessential self-defense weapon” cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 landmark decision striking down Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns, he said. The prohibition of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines “does not effectively disarm individuals or substantially affect their ability to defend themselves,” Covello said.
The court is “reasonably certain the prohibitions do not impose a substantial burden” upon the core right protected by the Second Amendment,” he said.
So, it depends on where you are, but I think it’s fair to say that the places where we are going to have to do the most work are the places where people feel most cynical about government. The people are mis-appre…I think they’re misunderstanding why the demographics in our, in this contest have broken out as they are. Because everybody just ascribes it to ‘white working-class don’t wanna work — don’t wanna vote for the black guy.’ That’s…there were intimations of that in an article in the Sunday New York Times today – kind of implies that it’s sort of a race thing.
Here’s how it is: in a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long, and they feel so betrayed by government, and when they hear a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about government, then a part of them just doesn’t buy it. And when it’s delivered by — it’s true that when it’s delivered by a 46-year-old black man named Barack Obama (laugher), then that adds another layer of skepticism (laughter).
But — so the questions you’re most likely to get about me, ‘Well, what is this guy going to do for me? What’s the concrete thing?’ What they wanna hear is — so, we’ll give you talking points about what we’re proposing — close tax loopholes, roll back, you know, the tax cuts for the top 1 percent. Obama’s gonna give tax breaks to middle-class folks and we’re gonna provide health care for every American. So we’ll go down a series of talking points.
But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
Um, now these are in some communities, you know. I think what you’ll find is, is that people of every background — there are gonna be a mix of people, you can go in the toughest neighborhoods, you know working-class lunch-pail folks, you’ll find Obama enthusiasts. And you can go into places where you think I’d be very strong and people will just be skeptical. The important thing is that you show up and you’re doing what you’re doing.
Let’s talk guns, and how to use public health measures to decrease gun injuries and deaths.
“Injuries, Not Accidents,” is the title of a chapter in the 2005 book “Prescription for a Healthy Nation: A New Approach to Improving Our Lives by Fixing Our Everyday World.” Written by doctors Tom Farley and Deborah Cohen, the book talks about how we can change our health by changing the environment we live in—as they describe it, “the streets, houses, buildings, neighborhoods and stores that surround us, the items in them, the images we see every day, and society’s rules for behavior in schools, in the workplace, and in communities.”
The chapter on injuries, not accidents, explores what has been and could be done to decrease the rates of death and disability from motor vehicle crashes and gun shot wounds. They are the sixth and seventh top leading underlying causes of death in the United States—with 45,000 and 30,000 deaths each year, respectively.
What are the statistics on gun deaths?
With gun violence, 5% of deaths are unintentional. About two thirds of remaining deaths are suicide. One third are homicide.
Children living in the five states with the highest levels of gun ownership were more likely to die from guns– 16 times more likely to die from unintentional injury, 7 times more likely to die from suicide, and 3 times more likely to die from homicide.
Having a gun in the home makes a person three times more likely to die from homicide as people who don’t. As Arthur Kellerman showed in his 1993 paper “Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide”, 70% of homicide victims are killed by people they know, after an argument. Having a loaded gun within reach makes people much more likely to kill each other in the heat of the moment.
Much gun death is impulsive death.
In 1976, the District of Columbia implemented a ban on the sale of handguns. People could drive across borders to buy handguns in Maryland or Virginia. Still, as Colin Leftin showed in his 1991 paper “Effects of Restrictive Licensing of Handgun on Suicides and Homicides in the District of Columbia”, banning handgun sales in one locality dropped the number of suicides by 23%, and the number of homicides by 25%. Other means of intentional injury did not rise to take their place.
According to the FBI’s crime clock, in a given year, every 22 seconds there is a violent crime; every 32.9 minutes there is a murder.
How do we decrease death and disability from guns?
The authors of “Prescription for a Health Nation” argue that we can decrease the rate of death from any type of injury by changing individual behaviors, changing the objects that cause injury, or changing the environment that allows the objects to kill people.
Individual behaviors, object, environment.
To change individual behaviors car owners are encouraged to wear seat belts, drive at the speed limit, give enough distance to the car in front of them, without drinking or texting while driving. Gun owners are encouraged to take bullets out of stored guns and place them out of the reach of children.
To change the objects that cause the most injuries–cars and guns—manufacturers can change their product. To prevent death in case of motor vehicle accident, car manufactures now pad car interiors, add airbags, and provide collapsible steering columns. Gun manufacturers may be similarly encouraged to modify their products to make them less accidentally deadly, by adding technologies to make the gun only be able to be fired by the gun owner to whom it was sold, for example, or increasing the resistance to pulling the trigger to make it harder for a three year old to shoot themselves or others, or limiting the number of bullets in a belt. Magazine safeties, grip safeties, trigger locks and gun locks. Guns can be made to be safer.
To change the environment, policies and priorities can shift. To prevent motor vehicle injuries, local, state and federal governments now have measures in place to repair potholes, set speed limits and driving laws, and build safe infrastructure.
To prevent gun injuries, we could tighten restrictions on gun sales, ban the sale of handguns to the general public, make it illegal to enter public spaces with guns. We could support laws to ensure gun safety. As the authors say, “any step that cuts back on the number of guns in houses, or the number easily accessible, unlocked or loaded, would save many lives.”
If no guns were on the streets in Florida, Trayvon Martin would still be alive.
We can change our environment to ensure safer streets where neighbors can walk with neighbors to grocery stores selling fresh fruits and vegetables on safe street corners without worrying about gun related death and disability. With concentrated efforts to decrease gun related injuries and death, we can combat obesity, increase economic activity, and provide greater opportunity for the inhabitants of all communities to live well.
Twenty young people a day hospitalized for gun injuries
Six percent of 7,391 hospitalizations for firearm-related injuries to children and teens in 2009 proved fatal. Most of the Six 6 6 6percent of 7,391 hospitalizations for firearm-related injuries to children and teens in 2009 proved fatal. Most of the hospitalizations resulted from assaults; the fewest from suicide attempts.
- On average, 20 children and teens were hospitalized each day in 2009 from firearm injuries
- Deaths in the hospital occurred in 6% of cases
- Hospitalizations rates were highest for 15- to 19-year-olds and for black males
Almost one child or teen an hour is injured by a firearm seriously enough to require hospitalization, a new analysis finds. Six percent of the 7,391 hospitalizations analyzed resulted in a death, says the study in February’s Pediatrics, released today.
The damage caused by gun-related injuries rarely gets the same attention as fatalities, “but that every day, 20 of our children are hospitalized for firearms injury, often suffering severe and costly injuries, clearly shows that this is a national public health problem,” says Robert Sege, director of the Division of Family and Child Advocacy at Boston Medical Center and a co-author of the study.
Despite declining rates over the past decade, firearm injuries remain the second leading cause of death, behind motor vehicle crashes, for teens ages 15 to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Children who survive firearm injuries often require extensive follow-up treatment, including rehabilitation, home health care, hospital readmission from delayed effects of the injury, and mental health or social services, Sege says.
Although a number of studies have used vital statistics data to examine pediatric fatalities related to firearms, this is the first to highlight the burden of non-fatal injuries using hospitalization data, he says.
Researchers analyzed a nationally representative sample of discharge data collected on children and adolescents (up to age 20) in 2009. The data, released in 2011, are the most recent available, Sege says.
In addition to 453 of the 7,391 hospitalizations that year resulting from firearm-related injuries, other findings show:
•The most common types of firearm injuries included open wounds (52%), fractures (50%) and internal injuries of the thorax, abdomen or pelvis (34%).
•In children under age 10, 75% of hospitalizations were due to unintentional injuries.
•Rates were highest for those ages 15 to 19 (27.94 per 100,000.)
•Of all hospitalizations, 89% were males; the hospitalization rate for males was 15.22 per 100,000, compared with 1.93 per 100,000 for females. The hospitalization rate for black males was 44.77 per 100,000, more than 10 times that for white males.
The study detailed a significant racial gap: Black children and adolescents comprised 47% of all hospitalizations, 54% of hospitalizations resulting from assaults, 36% from unintentional injuries and 54% from undetermined causes.
Noting the significantly higher poverty rate for young black males compared with young white males, Sege says the data did not allow researchers to “separate the effects of poverty from the effects of race.”
Nor did the data indicate what types of guns were used or where the injury occurred. The findings emphasize “the need for funding for public health research to find the best way to reduce children’s access to firearms,” he says.
In the absence of such research, Sege says, the best advice is to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that “the safest home for children and teens is one without guns,” and if there are guns in the home, they should be “stored unloaded and locked, with the ammunition locked away in a separate place.”
Michelle Healy, USA TODAY12:02 a.m. EST January 27, 2014
Police say 3 people killed at mall in suburban Baltimore
January 25, 2014, 9:31 a.m.
A shooting occurred at a mall in Maryland on Saturday morning and three people are dead, police said. It was not immediately known whether there were additional injuries or how many potential shooters may have been involved.
Howard County police said via Twitter that a shooting had taken place at the Mall in Columbia, a suburb of both Baltimore and Washington. The mall typically opens at 10 a.m. on Saturdays.
“There has been a shooting incident at the Columbia mall,” the police department tweeted.
The Howard County Fire and emergency services department sent out at tweet at 11:25 a.m. Saturday, saying that police and rescuers were responding to “an active shooter” at the mall. The mall typically opens at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and it was not known how many shoppers or workers might have been at the scene.
The mall is at the center of the town.
Shooting the messenger: The time I dared to critique gun activists’ agenda
I learned first-hand that voicing cautious attitudes about guns will elicit quite a response from the right
Last month, I wrote a front-page article for Salon about the psychology of open carry, entitled “Gun rights activists have a new craze, and it’s more dangerous than you think.” The story topped Salon’s “most read” list, at one point surpassing even the “Duck Dynasty” drama and a piece about Jennifer Lawrence’s sex toys. Gun safety reform groups like the Brady Campaign and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America shared it on their respective Facebook pages, but so did the gun rights group Open Carry Texas, which called it “a fairly balanced article.”
I also received feedback from people who were angry about the article, even though they had no idea what was in it. They’d only seen the responses to my story that popped up in conservative media outlets and online forums, where my original message was deliberately distorted. But that’s to be expected — lately, any story that voices cautious or moderateattitudes about guns (let alone actual policy changes) is quickly reappropriated. The formula is consistent: shoot the messenger, then rewrite the message.
Surely part of the reason my story attracted so much attention was its provocative headline, which I actually didn’t write. (Contributors often don’t write their own headlines.) Conservative pundit Charles Cooke spends the first two paragraphs of his response in the National Review critiquing the headline. He then accuses me of making several improbable “predictions” about what will happen in Texas if the state legislature removes current restrictions on open carry. Actually I made no predictions whatsoever. I described some real-life incidents involving open carry, and discussed the way people generally behave when they see or hold a weapon (These aren’t predictions, but rather observations documented through 40 years of empirical research, conducted by social scientists at major universities and published in peer-reviewed journals).
Cooke waves all that science away, dismissing it as “science” in incredulous quotation marks. He doesn’t bother to articulate any specific flaws with the methodology of these studies. Instead, Cooke tries to impugn the source — he calls me a “guru” (do I need new business cards?) and implies that, because Salon is such a liberal, aloof publication, any analysis published here regarding Texas politics is inherently shady. (Never mind that I have lived in Texas for 18 years.)
Cooke uses my name fifteen times in his article, shifting the focus away from the content of the story and onto the author, as if I had dreamt up every detail from my own imagination. National Review readers left hundreds of comments, but most were only tangentially related to the issues in the original Salon story.
Treading on the rattlesnake
Commentators like Charles Cooke and Alex Jones want their audiences to think that journalists are waging a deliberate culture war, inciting panic and antagonizing gun owners who just want to be left alone. And to be fair, some journalists seem to be doing exactly that — often at their own peril.
When the Sandusky Register, a small Ohio newspaper, published the names of 2,500 local concealed carry permit holders, gun rights organizations retaliated by publishing personal information about editor Matt Westerhold. According to Mother Jones, Buckeye Firearms released details of Westerhold’s divorce and tips about how people could stalk his 12-year-old daughter. A similar scenario played out last year in New York state, when The Times Journal mapped the locations of concealed handgun permit holders throughout two suburban counties. Staffers received death threats and packages containing white powder. After blogger Bob Cox published the home addresses of many employees of the newspaper, the threats became more specific — credible enough that the publisher hired armed guards and encouraged some staff to change their phone numbers and sleep in hotels.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bateman seemed almost to invite the vitriol of Second Amendment activists when he wrote an essay for Esquire proposing sweeping gun reform, reappropriating Charlton Heston’s rhetoric about prying guns “from your cold dead fingers.” Bateman later described the thousands of threatening e-mails he received, and quipped about the bad grammar of his would-be assassins (i.e., “You’re days are numbered”).
However provocative, Bateman’s plan is so ambitious (banning the sale of most types of guns, implementing a national buyback program, heavily taxing ammunition, etc.) that it’s absurd to imagine it being enacted. In the current political climate, where even a watered-down bill to expand background checks can’t find its way to the president’s desk, it’s hard to accept Bateman’s proposal as anything more than an academic exercise — neither an actionable solution to our national violence nor a credible threat to gun rights.
Aiming for the center of mass
More realistic reform can only come from more moderate voices — especially trusted personalities in the firearms community who could endorse changes to advance public safety without curbing constitutional rights. Gun rights activists brew a special hemlock, though, for those few journalists among their own ranks who don’t toe the line — calling for their resignations and demanding public disavowals from their publishers.
Last weekend, Ravi Somaiya wrote an incisive article for the New York Times about Guns & Ammo columnist Dick Metcalf, who was fired last year for writing that second amendment rights, like all constitutional rights, “are regulated, always have been, and need to be.” Metcalf went on to defend an Illinois state law: “I don’t think 16 hours of training to qualify for a concealed carry license is infringement.” The rancor over that earnest statement also prompted the resignation of Metcalf’s editor, Jim Bequette, who profuselyapologized to readers for allowing the column to run in the magazine.
Metcalf and Bequette should have anticipated that outcome, which had a precedent. In 2007, Jim Zumbo was a hunting superstar with his own column in Outdoor Life magazine and his own TV program on The Outdoor Channel. But his media empire collapsed spectacularly when he wrote a brief blog post asserting that semiautomatic assault rifles “have no place in hunting,” and that “to most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing.” Those remarks elicited thousands of outraged replies — addressed to Zumbo himself, but also to his employers and sponsors. An official statement from the National Rifle Association recast Zumbo’s offhand blog post (dashed off one evening after a long day hunting coyote) as something more calculating and sinister — a “divide and conquer propaganda strategy.” Within days, Zumbo had lost his endorsement deals and his column at Outdoor Life, ending a 45-year-long relationship with the magazine. The TV program “Jim Zumbo Outdoors” resumed after a five-month hiatus, but his career still hasn’t fully recovered.
As Somaiya discusses in the Times, gun publications are beholden to gun manufacturers, who provide advertising dollars as well as the latest weapons for review. A magazine like Guns & Ammo can jeopardize its own future by publishing articles that rile the industry. Dick Metcalf and Jim Zumbo were both fired partly to appease big gun manufactures.
The threat that moderate voices pose to the gun industry is a real one. 2013 was a particularly tumultuous year for guns and politics, with 109 new state laws passed — 39 that tightened restrictions and 70 that loosened them, with further changes pending.
If people like Metcalf and Zumbo had been allowed to speak freely, they might have bridged some of the cultural divides that make guns such a divisive issue in this country, and brought a calming effect to the debate. Which would be bad for business, because reasonable compromises deflate the hysteria that drives buyers in droves to gun dealers, cash in hand, every time there’s national debate about gun reform.