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website: On The Issues

Background on Gun Control

Statistics on Gun Ownership:

 40% of all US homes have guns

 81% of Americans say that gun control will be an important issue in determining which Congressional candidate

to vote for.

 91% of Americans say that there should be at least minor restrictions on gun ownership;

 57% of Americans say that there should be major restrictions or a ban.

Child-Safety Locks

 In 1996, 140 children died after being accidentally shot.

 About 1,500 children are hurt by guns every year.

 "Trigger Locks" require entering a combination to use the gun (or some other locking method); they are intended to reduce inadvertent use by children or other unauthorized users.

Background Checks

 The "Gun-Show Loophole" means that there are no background checks when purchasing guns in a private transaction.

 Guns sold at gun shows through dealers ARE subject to background checks; only those sold privately are not.

Right to Bear Arms

 The Supreme Court ruled in 1939, in a case called "US v. Miller," that the 2nd amendment only protects guns suitable for a well-regulated militia -- for example, sawed-off shotguns can be banned because they're not "ordinary military equipment".

 Since 1939, the Supreme Court has not heard any further 2nd amendment cases; the most recent ruling prior to “Heller”, in 1997, overturned part of the 1993 Brady Bill, but did not address 2nd amendment rights.

 “Heller” refers to a ruling on the issue of “individual rights”. The Supreme Court ruled, in the 2008 case called “District of Columbia v. Heller”, that the 2nd Amendment does define an individual right to gun ownership, as opposed to a “collective right” for a state-run and state-armed National Guard.

 Much discretion was left to the states and to Congress, but Heller opens up the issue to further Supreme Court cases.

 Hence, gun control issues are still primarily the subject of Congressional legislation.
Gun Control Buzzwords

 The biggest component of the Gun Control debate is whether existing gun laws are sufficient, or whether more gun laws are needed.

 Liberals and populists generally favor more gun laws. Look for buzzwords like "more registration" or "more licensing" to describe seeking further restrictions legal ownership; or "close the loopholes" and "restrict access" for further restrictions on illegal ownership.

 Moderate liberals and populists will generally favor more restrictions on ownership while paying lip-service "sportsmen's rights" or respecting "the right of self-protection." A moderate compromise is to "extend waiting periods" before allowing ownership, to perform "background checks" of varying degrees of severity.

 Conservatives and libertarians generally oppose gun laws. Look for buzzwords like "Second Amendment rights" or "allow concealed carry". A call for "instant background checks" pays lip-service to gun-control advocates: it sounds like a restriction, but means allowing purchasing guns on the spot.

 Moderate conservatives and libertarians oppose gun laws while acknowledging that restrictions are inevitable. Look for buzzwords like "enforce existing gun laws," which implies not passing any NEW gun laws. Similarly, "more strict enforcement" of gun laws implies a pro-Gun Rights stance, unless it is accompanied by a call for new gun laws.

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 Centrists and moderates from both the right and left generally support restrictions on juvenile access to guns, especially in the wake of tragedies like Littleton and other gun-related deaths.

 Positive mentions of the NRA (the National Rifle Association, the largest pro-gun rights lobbying group) implies support of gun rights, while opposing the NRA or "taking on the gun lobby" implies support of gun restrictions.

Amendment II to the US Constitution

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. (1791)

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