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Curry County Democrats Policy Position: Gun Violence in the United States

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Curry County
Democratic Central Committee

 

Resolution of the Curry County on Gun Violence in the United States

The Democrats of Curry County (Oregon) support the constitutional right of every law-abiding adult to keep and bear arms for self defense, hunting, and recreation.

We are cognizant of the fact that the United States is unique among developed nations in its extremely high rate of gun-related violence, injury, and death. We understand that this results from multiple, interrelated factors that together contribute to the excessive gun-related violence.

We believe that as a society we should actively pursue effective and constitutionally sound measures to mitigate this problem through both governmental action and social change. These include not just more effective common-sense gun safety regulations, but also actions to address the societal factors the lead to gun violence.

We therefore propose that the Federal Government and the government of the State of Oregon institute constitutionally sound laws, regulations, and administrative actions to accomplish the following:

  • Individuals with a history of violent crime, mentally incompetent persons, and minors should be prohibited from owning firearms. To accomplish this, all transfers of firearm ownership, whether by sale or gift, should be subject to federal background checks. There should be no exception for private party transfer or for gun shows.

  • A waiting period should be required between notification of intent to acquire a weapon and transfer of ownership of the weapon. This waiting period can be simultaneous with a background check.

  • To inhibit firearms trafficking, the number of firearms acquired by an individual over a period of time should be limited consistent with a reasonable standard based on the intended use of each type of firearm. Licensed firearms dealers should be exempt from this rule.

  • The number of weapons owned by a person should be limited consistent with reasonable standards based on the intended use of each type of firearm. Persons with a valid and reasonable reason to own firearms in excess of these limits (such as dealers and collectors) should be subject to special licensing requirements to assure proper storage, handling, display, and use of the firearms.

  • To facilitate the detection and tracking of illegal activities involving firearms and the analysis of firearm usage trends for the purpose of improving public safety, all firearms should be registered in a national database so their “movements” can be tracked. The process would be much like vehicle registration.

  • Ownership of assault weapons should be limited to special circumstances. There should be a special licensing and inspection protocol for persons who can show a valid and reasonable purpose for owning assault weapons.*

  • The private ownership of armor piercing (cop killer) bullets should be prohibited.

  • The ownership of clips and magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds should be limited to special circumstances. As with assault weapons, there should be a special licensing and inspection protocol for persons who can show a valid and reasonable purpose for owning high-capacity clips and magazines.

  • A voluntary national buyback program should be initiated to reduce the number of firearms and firearm accessories (such as clips and magazines) in private ownership that are not compliant with applicable standards and regulations.

  • Persons who own previously legal firearms and firearm components that do not comply with applicable standards and regulations should not be compelled to relinquish ownership. However, they should be prohibited from transferring ownership to anyone who is not an appropriately licensed owner. These persons should be given the opportunity to voluntarily sell non-compliant firearms and firearm components to an appropriate government agency for fair market value compensation.

  • In addition to criminal penalties, strict liability standards should be applied to any wrongful act (tort) involving firearms.

  • Access to full and complete mental health treatment should be made available to all persons, regardless of ability to pay.

  • Healthcare providers and social service counselors should be permitted and encouraged to discuss firearm safety with their patients/clients when in their judgment it would be in the best interest of the patient/client to do so.

  • Healthcare providers and social service counselors should be required to report to appropriate agencies when in their best judgment a patient/client poses a risk to self or others involving firearms.

  • A national program should be established to study the socio-economic and cultural causes of gun violence and recommend mitigating actions.

* The licensing protocol would be analogous to vehicle driver licensing, with initial and recurrent knowledge tests and practical tests to demonstrate “hands on” ability to meet ownership requirements.

Background Information

 

Summary of President Obama’s Gun Violence Proposal

(From http://thinkprogress.org/progress-report/gun-violence-prevention-101/)

    1. Making background checks universal. Obama wants every single gun owner to go through a proper background check, so it can be determined whether they have a criminal history or diagnosed mental illness. He wants Congress to close the gun show loophole that allows people at gun shows, and private buyers of used weapons, to avoid getting checked. He will also, through executive action, urge private sellers to conduct background checks, even if they aren’t mandatory.
    2. Improving state reporting of criminals and the mentally ill. While all states are required to report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) people who should not have access to guns, some states are sluggish about putting the data into the system. Obama will put more money into the hands of the states so that they can improve their reporting systems, and issue stronger guidelines to let states know when they should report people. Obama will also, through Presidential Memorandum, work to make sure agencies are regularly entering data into NICS.
    3. Banning assault weapons. This is likely the most difficult battle Obama will undertake. He wants to reinstate the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, which outlaws military-grade weapons, like the AR-15 used by Newtown gunman Adam Lanza and by Aurora Theater gunman James Holmes. Obama wants Congress to pass the ban, and close some of the loopholes identified in its 1994 iteration.
    4. Capping magazine clip capacity at 10 bullets. A military-grade weapon is dangerous, but so are its accessories: Obama proposes banning all extended magazine clips that hold over 10 bullets. Huge magazine clips allow a gunman to fire off hundreds of rounds without having to stop, even once, to reload. The high-capacity magazine ban was also part of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.
    5. Purging armor-piercing bullets. The sale of armor piercing ammunition has been banned for quite some time, but is still legal to posess such bullets. Obama is calling on Congress to outlaw ownership and transfer of these bullets, instead of just the sale. Those who oppose any gun laws try to spin a ban on armor piercing bullets as a ban on deer hunting ammunition, but such ammo has the ability to penetrate bullet-proof vests, and is more colloquially known as “cop killer bullets.”
    6. Funding police officers. Obama wants Congress to reverse its course of austerity for public employees by approving $4 billion to fund police enforcement around the country.
    7. Strengthening gun tracking. In order to track weapons that are used for crimes, Obama will issue a memorandum mandating that all agencies trace back firearms. This means that any agency in the country must trace guns used in crimes back to their original owners, as a way to help collect data on where criminal weapons are coming from. Obama will also ask Congress to allow law enforcement to do background checks on guns seized during investigations.
    8. Supporting research on gun violence. Obama hopes to be able to gather more information on gun violence and misuse of firearms, and use that data to inform the work of law enforcement. He also wants to restart research, which has been long blocked by the National Rifle Association, on how video games, the media, and violence affect violent gun crimes. The Centers for Disease Control will immediately begin these efforts, but Obama also is calling on Congress to add $10 million to the pot of funding for such research.
    9. Encouraging mental health providers to get involved. In order to make sure that those with homicidal thoughts are unable to access the weapons with which to kill, Obama seeks to encourage mental health professionals to alert authorities to such people. He will clarify that doing so is not in violation of patient privacy laws. He also wants to dispel the idea that Obamacare prevents doctors from talking to patients about guns.
    10. Promoting safe gun ownership. The administration will start a “responsible gun ownership” campaign to encourage gun owners to lock up their firearms. He will also work with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure safes and gun locks on the market are effective. He’s also calling on the justice department to help him come up with new gun safety technology.
    11. Funding school counseling. Obama is calling on Congress to fund the positions of 1,000 news school counselors. The funding will come both through the already-existent COPS Hiring Grant, and through a new Comprehensive School Safety program that Congress will need to sign off on. The latter would put #150 million into funding for new counselors and social workers in schools.
    12. Encouraging safe, anti-bullying school environments. Over 8,000 schools could receive new funding — $50 million — under Obama’s plan to encourage safer school environments. Obama wants to help at-risk students by creating a “school climate survey” that will collect data on what services students need, and to remedy any problems by putting professionals into schools. The administration will also issue guidelines on school discipline policies.
    13. Recognizing the mental health needs of low-income Americans. Medicaid recipients already qualify for some mental health services, but Obama would like to expand that service so that low-income Americans have the same access to professional help as those who have money to pay for it on their own. Obama will issue a directive to heads of state health programs, enforcing “mental health parity” — the idea that mental health should be treated as a priority as important as physical health.

The Relationship Between Between the Rate of Gun Ownership and Gun Deaths

Higher rates of gun ownership correlate with higher rates of gun deaths.

Gun Deaths vs. Gun Ownership

(http://newtrajectory.blogspot.com/2011/01/important-data-trends-nra-doesnt-want.html)


 

The statistical correlations between firearm deaths and a variety of psychological, economic, social, and political characteristics of states

Stronger gun laws correlate with reduced gun deaths. Higher poverty correlates with increased gun deaths.

Gun Violence Social Factors(http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/the-geography-of-gun-deaths/69354/)


 

Americans support sensible gun regulations

While gun rights advocates consider a Federal database to track gun sales the first step torwad gun confiscation, a large majority of Americans support the concept.

Americans Support Reasonable Gun Regulation

(http://www.upworthy.com/3-common-sense-gun-laws-that-are-popular-with-everyone-including-republicans)

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