Friday, July 20, 2012

"Why We Must Ban High-Capacity Gun Magazines"

BY NJ SENATOR FRANK LAUTENBERG AND NY CONGRESSWOMAN Carolyn McCarthy. Rep. McCarthy's political career was launched by a gun tragedy in her own life, when, on December 7, 1993, her husband, Dennis, was killed and her son, Kevin, severely injured on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train when a mass murderer, Colin Ferguson, opened fire on random unarmed passengers. Ferguson killed six and wounded 19 people. McCarthy responded to the crime by launching a campaign for more stringent gun control that eventually propelled her to Congress in 1996 on the Democratic ticket.

Here is their column in the Huffington Post: (Tragically, and so sadly, their rational common sense plea went for naught, and now we have 12 dead and 58 wounded, some in critical condition; and counting. There's this NRA mouthpiece with an ironically French-sounding name, Wayne LaPierre. All I can see is LaPierre covered from his head to his feet with the blood of innocent victims felled by NRA-sanctioned gun violence. What kind of country is this?!)

"We were honored last week to join James and Sarah Brady as they marked the 30th anniversary of a tragic moment in history - the shooting of President Reagan.

James Brady, who took one of the bullets meant for the president, has since dedicated his life to preventing gun violence.

It was in his name that Congress came together to pass the Brady law to require a background check for gun purchases.

It is time for Congress to come together once again to eliminate senseless violence and save lives.

We're determined to ban high-capacity gun magazines like the one Jared Lee Loughner allegedly used in Tucson, Arizona, when he was able to fire 31 bullets in 15 seconds because he supersized his Glock 19 handgun with a high-capacity magazine.

Loughner's massacre ended only when he stopped to reload and bystanders wrestled him to the ground. If he had used a standard magazine and was forced to reload earlier, some of his victims might have been spared.

High-capacity magazines -- devices that dramatically boost a weapon's firing power -- were prohibited from 1994 until 2004, when the federal assault weapons ban was in place. Since its lapse, high-capacity magazines have become easily accessible, turning up on shelves in gun shops and even some sporting goods stores.

As a recent investigation revealed, during the last year of the ban in 2004, just 10 percent of the crime-related guns seized by Virginia police were equipped with high-capacity magazines, a 10-year low. By last year, with the ban expired, the percentage had surged to 22 percent.

The fact is, guns are used to murder more than 9,500 people in our country in a single year. By comparison, about 5,900 American troops have died in Afghanistan and Iraq during the past 10 years.
Let's take a look at how gun-related murders affect some of our closest allies.

Altogether, Japan, Germany, England, Wales and Canada are home to 305 million people, and guns kill 450 people in these countries in an average year.

Again, the United States, which is home to 307 million people, suffers 9,500 murders by gun in one year. And that doesn't even include the approximately 20,000 annual other deaths and suicides with a gun.

It's time to end the bloodshed and restore common sense to our gun laws -- beginning with a permanent ban on high-capacity gun magazines.

These deadly devices are the weapon of choice for the deranged.

In the 1993 Long Island Railroad massacre, Colin Ferguson used a high-capacity magazine to kill six people and wound 19 others.

Major Nidal Hasan, the accused shooter in the Fort Hood tragedy, was armed with several high-capacity magazines and almost 400 rounds of ammunition when he went on his 2009 rampage, killing 13 people and wounding 34 others.

The onetime gun-shop employee who sold weaponry to Hasan testified that the alleged shooter told him he preferred extended ammunition clips because "he didn't like spending time loading magazines."

In addition to the Arizona, Long Island Railroad and Fort Hood shootings, high-capacity magazines were also used in the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, as well as an incident in Manchester, Connecticut, last year, when a gunman killed eight people and wounded two others.

We introduced legislation in the Senate and House last month to ban the sale of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds at a time - just like the law that was in place until 2004.

This new legislation's goal is not to eliminate gun ownership in responsible hands; we simply want to restore a sensible safeguard that protects our families and children.

Robert Levy, a lawyer and prominent gun rights activist, has said our proposal is constitutional.

The National Rifle Association has called high-capacity magazines "standard equipment for self-defense handguns," but let's not kid ourselves: the only reason to supersize a handgun to two or three times its original bullet capacity is because you want to kill a lot of people very quickly.

In gun-friendly Washington, we need President Obama's leadership, reasonable gun laws, and policies that will save the tens of thousands of Americans who live with gun violence each year.
Even Dick Cheney is open to restoring the ban.

The former vice president, a staunch defender of gun rights, recently told NBC News with regard to restoring the high-capacity magazine ban: "We've had that in place before. Maybe it's appropriate to reestablish that kind of thing."

No one is arguing that a high-capacity magazine ban would have prevented our colleague Gabrielle Giffords from being shot -- but it might have spared the victims who were struck by bullets 11 through 31.

The bottom line: We shouldn't have to rely on innocent bystanders to protect lives when these lethal weapons are in the hands of killers.

This responsibility rests with Congress and President Obama -- and we shouldn't wait another day to get the job done.

Frank Lautenberg is a Democratic Senator from New Jersey. Carolyn McCarthy is a Democratic Congresswoman representing New York's 4th District.


Anon said...

The bottom line in her article is that we shouldn't have to rely on innocent bystanders to protect lives. The problem with this line of reasoning is that those are the only people who are capable of protecting lives. What are you going to do, wait 15 minutes for the police to show up and save you? Banning high capacity magazines will not stop people from killing each other. Likewise, banning guns will not stop it either, it will only ensure that only criminals are armed. I realize the intent is to make people safe, but how are people safer if criminals can be assured that their victims are unarmed and unable to fight back? She also mentions the Ft. Hood shooting and how banning high cap magazines would have helped there too. Well, that's a military base, is she really suggesting we limit our military personnel to low capacity magazines? She might as well just state that the military should be banned from possessing guns too so another Ft. Hood shooting doesn't occur. The protectionist mentality is a delusion, people can never be protected from everything. The reason we have the right to bear arms is to ensure "the security of a free State." How do you have a free state when only the government has weapons? A police state is not a free society. There is a price for everything, including giving up your freedom even if it may not be realized immediately.

Carlos said...

No, the bottom line is there are reasonable limits to the constitutional right to bear arms, that can and should be regulated and adjudicated. Even the Supreme Court's most conservative voice, Justice Scalia, has recognized this, on Fox News: “My starting point and probably my ending point will be what limitations are within the understood limitations that the society had at the time,” he said. “They had some limitations on the nature of arms that could be borne. So we’ll see what those limitations are as applied to modern weapons.”

You're conflating a lot of arguments here. Military-style weapons may not be justified for civilian use and personal protection, or hunting, or collecting.

No one is talking about banning the military from using military weapons. That's absurd. In the Ft. Hood shooting, the deranged shooter purchased his arsenal privately. The military has strict rules about who can be walking around in a base carrying that kind of firepower, and for what purpose. A psychiatrist? Had he tried using military-issue weapons, questions would be asked, there's a protocol, and that by itself might have avoided the tragedy.

Reasonable gun control, as in the prior banning of assault weapons which Congress allowed to expire, has nothing to do with a so-called protectionist "delusion." That's just a silly talking point. It has everything to do with reasonable regulations on the sale, distribution, and tracing of firearms, so that fewer firearms, including military-style weapons (which Scalia has already said may be limited and restricted for civilian use) find their way into the hands of deranged individuals, felons, criminals, drug cartels, and terrorists.