Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ceasefire Oregon and the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation Release Recommendations to Reduce Gun Violence by 30-50% in Five Years

Ceasefire Oregon and the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation have drafted a plan of action, both legislative and educational, that could reduce gun violence by 30 to 50 percent in five years.
The plan has three overarching goals:

  • Require higher standards for firearm ownership.
  • Enhance accountability of federally licensed firearm dealers (FFLs).
  • Improve safety standards for firearms and firearm ownership.

Ceasefire Oregon and the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation are greatly indebted to Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer for his plan “Enough is Enough”1 and to Dr. Daniel Webster, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.2
The plan respects the values and ideals held by responsible gun owners while remaining within the scope of the Second Amendment.
Recommendations for requiring higher standards for gun ownership include (1) national universal background checks for all firearm sales3,4,9; (2) prohibition of gun ownership for 10 years if a person has multiple offenses involving misdemeanor violence, alcohol or drug abuse, domestic violence, a domestic violence restraining order or serious juvenile offense.5,6,7 (3) secure weapons storage;8,9,10,11,12 and (4) standardized training for concealed handgun license applicants that includes marksmanship proficiency, active shooter training, and conflict resolution.13,14

Ceasefire Oregon supports Dr. Webster’s recommendations to reduce gun violence by enhancing accountability of federally licensed firearms dealers (FFLs).20, 21 The pipeline of crime guns can be stopped by (1) requiring security cameras, computerized sales inventory, and other anti-theft measures as are required by other purveyors of dangerous substances such as pharmacies;2,15 (2) limiting gun purchases to one gun per month to reduce trafficking and straw purchases;16, 17 (3) repealing the Gekas amendment of the 1994 Brady Bill that allows FFLs to sell a gun without a background check if the check is not complete in three business days;18, 19 and (4) imposing a waiting period of two weeks between time of sale and possession to deter suicide and impulse shootings.9

Affordable and effective technology exists today that would improve safety standards for guns and gun ownership. This includes (1) a microstamped code on each bullet that links it to a specific gun;22 (2) magazine disconnect mechanisms (MDM) that prevent a gun from loading a bullet in the chamber;23 (3) loaded chamber indicator (LCI or CLI) to show that bullets are still in the gun;23 and (4) “smart guns” with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or biometric recognition (fingerprint) capability.24
While only 4% of violent crime is attributable to mental illness,25 we call for more funding to provide competent assessment and care of our mentally ill citizens and those who are considering suicide. The funding would be generated by a tax on each gun sale and on every box of bullets purchased. This tax would be collected by the states and used to augment direct services for those suffering from mental illness.

To reduce the high number of people killed in mass shootings, the sale and possession of military-style rifles and high-capacity magazines should be banned.26

Finally, Ceasefire Oregon and the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation call on President Obama to appoint a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention Policy. Over 30,000 Americans die every year from gunfire. Appointing a National Director to focus solely on gun violence prevention would give the necessary attention needed to reduce these largely preventable deaths.

Ceasefire Oregon, the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation, and the Central Coast Ceasefire Oregon Chapter have been at the forefront of the gun violence prevention movement in Oregon since 1999. After the Sandy Hook, Connecticut massacre, we helped establish the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety ( that has grown to over 50 organizations.

Ceasefire Oregon collaborated with the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety, Everytown in Oregon, Moms Demand Action Oregon and Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership to pass the 2015 Oregon Firearms Safety Act that closed the private gun sale loophole in Oregon. The Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation ( has worked since 1994 to reduce gun violence through education programs including ASK: Asking Saves Kids and gun turn-ins.

Information about current state laws are on the Ceasefire Oregon website.

1. Enough is Enough: A Comprehensive Plan to Improve Gun Safety. 2015. Retrieved from
2. Webster DW. “America’s Path to Fewer Gun Deaths.” Retrieved from
3. Quinnpac University Poll, Sept. 17-21, 2015
4. State Background Check Requirements and Rates of Domestic Violence Homicide.
5. Sorenson SB and Webster DW. “What Works, Policies to Reduce Gun Violence. Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention and Policy," APA Panel Of Experts Report. American Psychological Association, 2013, pg. 30.  Retrieved from reports/gun-violence-prevention.aspx.
6. Wintemute G. “Broadening Denial Criteria. Updated Evidence and Policy Developments on Reducing Gun Violence in America."  Editors Webster DW, Vernick JS. Baltimore, 2014. pp. 13-17. Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved from
7. Seventy percent of gun owners and 76.1% of non-gun owners support a gun policy prohibiting a person convicted of two or more crimes involving alcohol or drugs within a three-year period from having a gun for 10 years. Barry CL, McGinty EE, Vernick JS, Webster DW. “After Newtown — Public Opinion on Gun Policy and Mental Illness." N Engl J Med. 2013;368:1077-1081. March 21, 2013. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1300512. Retrieved from
8. Safe Storage & Gun Locks Policy Summary. Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Retrieved from
9. Anestis MD, Anestis JC. “Suicide Rates and State Laws Regulating Access and Exposure to Handguns.” American Journal of Public Health. 2015;105:10, 2049-2058. doi:
10. Forty-four percent of gun owners and 75.3% of non-gun owners support a gun policy requiring by law that a person lock up guns in the home when not in use to prevent handling by children or teenagers without adult supervision.  Barry CL, McGinty EE, Vernick JS, Webster DW. “After Newtown — Public Opinion on Gun Policy and Mental Illness.  N Engl J Med. 2013; 368:1077-1081. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1300512. Retrieved from
11. Policy Statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Firearm-Related Injuries Affecting the Pediatric Population.” Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention Executive Committee. Pediatrics. 2012;130:5. e1416 -e1423. (doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-2481). Retrieved from
12. In Oregon, 82% percent of voters support child access prevention laws requiring safe storage of guns in a locked container for homes where a child is present. Additionally, 71% of gun owners support this law. Benenson Strategy Group, Polling Results, April 2015. Retrieved from
13. “Overall, the most consistent, albeit not uniform, finding to emerge from the array of models is that aggravated assault rises when RTC laws are adopted.” Donohue JJ III, Aneja A, Zhang A. "The Impact of Right to Carry Laws and the NRC Report: Lessons for the Empirical Evaluation of Law and Policy." May 20, 2010. Retrieved from
14. Delaware Weapons Instructions and Forms. Retrieved from
15. Almost seventy-nine percent of gun owners and 86.4% of non-gun owners support a gun policy allowing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to temporarily take away a gun dealer’s license if an audit reveals record-keeping violations and the dealer cannot account for 20 or more guns.  Barry CL, McGinty EE, Vernick JS, Webster DW. “After Newtown — Public Opinion on Gun Policy and Mental Illness,  N Engl J Med. 2013; 368:1077-1081. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1300512. Retrieved from
16. “This study provides evidence that restricting handgun purchases to 1 per month is an effective means of disrupting the illegal interstate transfer of firearms.” Weil DS, Knox RC. “Effects of Limiting Handgun Purchases on Interstate Transfer of Firearms.” JAMA. 1996;275(22):1759-1761. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530460063033. Retrieved from
17. An April 13, 2012, Ipsos/Reuters poll found that 69 percent of Americans support limiting the number of guns a person could purchase in a given time frame. Retrieved from
18. “Blumenthal, Murphy Move to Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Criminals.” Retrieved from
19. Sixty-seven percent of gun owners and almost 80% of non-gun owners support a gun policy allowing law enforcement up to five business days to complete a background check for gun buyers. (Note: This survey was conducted in January 2013, two and one-half years before the Charleston massacre in which Dylan Roof allegedly shot nine people to death. Reportedly, Roof obtained his firearm because of the Gekas amendment.  Barry CL, McGinty EE, Vernick JS, Webster DW. “After Newtown — Public Opinion on Gun Policy and Mental Illness, N Engl J Med 2013;368:1077-1081. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1300512. Retrieved from
20. “Congress should repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the sharing of gun trace data.”  Taking a Stand: Reducing Gun Violence in Our Communities: A report from the International Association of Chiefs of Police 2007 Great Lakes Summit on Gun Violence, pg. 21. Retrieved from
21. H.R.1449 - Tiahrt Restrictions Repeal Act 114th Congress (2015-2016) Rep. Lee, Barbara [D-CA-13] (Introduced 03/18/2015) Retrieved from
22. Lizotte TE, Ohar O. Forensic firearm identification of semiautomatic handguns using laser formed microstamping elements. SPIE Proceedings. 2008;7070:1-15.
23. “From a nationally projectable sample, GAO estimates that 31 percent of accidental deaths caused by firearms might be prevented by the addition of two safety devices.” Eleanor Chelimsky, Assistant Comptroller General. United States General Accounting Office, Report to Chairman, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Monopolies and Business Rights, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate. Accidental shootings : many deaths and injuries caused by firearms could be prevented: report to the chairman, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Monopolies, and Business Rights, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate. 1991. pg. 2. Retrieved from
24. Webster DW, Vernick JS, Teret SP. “How Cities Can Combat Illegal Guns and Gun Violence.” Center for Gun Policy and Research. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Baltimore, MD. Updated October 23, 2006. Retrieved from
25. Appelbaum PS. Violence and mental disorders: data and public policy. Am J Psychiatry. 2006;163(8):1319–1321.
26. According to a December 2014 poll by Pew Research Center, 58 percent of Americans support a ban on semi-automatic weapons. Retrieved from

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Who Does The NRA Really Represent? Follow The Money.

The NRA, as with other gun lobby groups, likes to promote itself as a membership-based organization that is fighting for the gun rights of the average gun owner, supported by their memberships, to promote gun safety and Second Amendment rights (but only the second half of the Second Amendment, mind you).

The NRA claims to have almost 5 million dues-paying members, a number that the organization likes to promote.  But this number is almost certainly greatly-inflated, with a real number down around 3 million.  That sounds like a lot of people still, until you consider that there are around 70 million gun owners in the United States, around a declining 22% of Americans, which means that the NRA only represents around 4% of gun owners, and this a tiny percentage of the total U.S. population of 320 million people.

Nonetheless, the NRA is a political powerhouse, pushing politicians to vote against their conscience to oppose any and all reasonable regulation to keep guns out of the hands of those who would misuse them.  Why?  Follow the money.  Many tens of millions of dollars come from gun makers to the NRA.  From an article:

Since 2005, the gun industry and its corporate allies have given between $20 million and $52.6 million to it through the NRA Ring of Freedom sponsor program. Donors include firearm companies like Midway USA, Springfield Armory Inc, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, and Beretta USA Corporation. Other supporters from the gun industry include Cabala's, Sturm Rugar & Co, and Smith & Wesson. 
The NRA also made $20.9 million — about 10 percent of its revenue — from selling advertising to industry companies marketing products in its many publications in 2010, according to the IRS Form 990.  
Additionally, some companies donate portions of sales directly to the NRA. Crimson Trace, which makes laser sights, donates 10 percent of each sale to the NRA. Taurus buys an NRA membership for everyone who buys one of their guns. Sturm Rugar gives $1 to the NRA for each gun sold, which amounts to millions. The NRA's revenues are intrinsically linked to the success of the gun business.

And why do the gun manufacturers give the NRA so much money?  Is it to promote gun safety?  Hardly.  In the last election cycle, the NRA spent over $28 million on campaign contributions -- paying off our elected officials to make it easier for guns to get in to any and all hands.  More from the previous article:

"Today's NRA is a virtual subsidiary of the gun industry," said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center. "While the NRA portrays itself as protecting the 'freedom' of individual gun owners, it's actually working to protect the freedom of the gun industry to manufacture and sell virtually any weapon or accessory."
You can read more details from a Violence Policy Center report about the close ties between the NRA and gun manufacturers, as well as in this Forbes article.

What does this mean for gun owners?  It means the NRA does not really speak for them.  For instance, a study out of Johns Hopkins found that 85% of gun owners supported background checks for all gun sales, including private sales.  63% support banning semi-auto assault weapons.  And 60% support banning high capacity ammo magazines.  And it doesn't stop there:

In the 2015 survey, the majority of gun owners surveyed support prohibiting a person convicted of a serious crime as a juvenile from having a gun for 10 years (73 percent), prohibiting people who have been convicted of public display of gun in a threatening manner excluding self-defense from having a gun for 10 years (75 percent), and prohibiting people convicted of domestic violence from having a gun for 10 years (76 percent). 
Similarly, the majority of gun owners (67 percent) also support allowing cities to sue licensed gun dealers when the gun dealer's sales practices allow criminals to obtain guns and requiring a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for a person convicted of knowingly selling a gun to someone who cannot legally have one (71 percent).
See more on these disagreements with the NRA HERE and HERE.

But don't tell all that to the NRA leadership.  They oppose such bills at both the state and federal levels.

The bottom line is that NRA doesn't care if a gun winds up in the hands of a felon, a child, or the mentally ill.  Every gun that is sold is another dollar in their pocket and the pockets of the gun manufacturers.  Follow the money!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Town Hall Forum On Gun Violence In Eugene

On October 29th, I was honored to take part in an excellent Town Hall forum on the issue of Gun Violence.  It was hosted at the First Christian Church in Eugene, Oregon, and was organized by Tony McCown, who is a candidate for Lane County commissioner.

Around 100 people took part.  Concerned citizens from many different walks of life, including a number of gun owners and hunters.  This was the second time the church has hosted such an event.  The first time, a couple years ago, I was one of the speakers.

I set up a table for Ceasefire Oregon, and there were three other representatives from my organization, too, including one of the speakers, Executive Director Penny Okamoto.  Moms Demand Action was also represented with a table and a speaker, Charlie McKenna.  Also on the panel was state senator Floyd Prozanski, Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, and current Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson.

The Town Hall began with the speakers.  See video, below.  After a quick introduction by Penny Okamoto, Senator Prozanski discussed in detail issues around the recently-enacted Senate Bill 941, which requires a background check for every gun purchase, including private transfers, in the state of Oregon.  Mayor Piercy talked about the recent visit by President Obama to meet with the families of victims from the Umpqua Community College shooting, and about Mayors Against Illegal Guns (she is a member).  Commissioner Sorenson talked about the resolution by the Lane County Commissioners (he was the only vote against it) which declared that the background check bill was "unconstitutional" and that no funds would allocated to enforce it (against the oath that they took to do so).  Finally, Charlie McKenna talked about Moms Demand Action and what had to change in the Oregon Legislature in order to pass the universal background check bill after three years of trying.

The introduction of the speakers from the forum:

After this, the audience broke up into smaller groups to explore the issue of gun violence, its causes, and possible solutions.  I was impressed by how seriously everyone took the issue and the level of positive debate that occurred.  We all then re-convened and each group did a little presentation for each part of the questions.

Again, I was impressed with the solutions that people suggested, such as smart gun technologies, suicide prevention strategies, mandatory proficiency training for gun owners, and mandatory safe storage of guns, among other suggestions.  The level of awareness was most striking.  In similar forums, in the past, it didn't seem to me that there was the same level.

And, with each suggestion, comments were made by the speakers.  See below for Penny Okamoto's response regarding mental illness, and how the NRA and other pro-gun supporters scapegoat the mentally ill (who are statistically more likely to be gun violence victims than to be gun violence suspects):

I want to thank First Christian Church for hosting the event, the speakers, and most of all the other attendees, for taking part.  It is my hope that there can be more public forums like this one.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

School Lockdown Drills Are This Generation's "Duck And Cover"

Yesterday my 10 year old daughter had another Lockdown Drill at her school.

An email announcement went out to us parents from the Principal, a few days before.  From the email:
During our drill on Friday, an intercom announcement will inform staff and students that the drill will begin. Staff will then be asked to secure their classrooms. Teachers will lock classroom doors, close the blinds, move students away from the windows, turn out the lights, and ask students to remain quiet. The drill will last about three minutes, at which point another announcement will be made that the drill is over.

And when the time came during class, the teacher locked the door and turned off the lights, and the kids had to huddle in the corner, absolutely quiet and still while they imagined an armed madman walking the halls of their school.  The teacher explained to them that, if the windows above them were shot out, it would be a harmless shower of safety glass cubes that could not cut them.  Then, he practiced walking quickly and orderly out the back door of the classroom, across the school grounds, and to a staging area in the neighborhood across the street.

The last time my daughter's school had a lockdown drill, she was in an after-school activity with a mixed-age class of kids, mostly younger than her.  Many of them were confused and started to cry, traumatized by the image in their mind of an armed lunatic coming toward their room.

This is the new normal in America.  It is practiced in my daughter's school at least as many times a year as fire drills, and more even than earthquake drills.  My 11 year old son had a drill in his school the week before.

But as traumatizing as this is, it is an increasingly-necessary precaution taken by schools.  Since our federal politicians continue to do nothing at all to keep guns out of the hands of murderous madmen, schools are left to pick up the difference, preparing their staff and students to fight for their lives or hide in darkened corners, or to follow the NRA's suggestion, highly-opposed, to make an armed camp out of our children's learning environment (which hasn't turned out so well for some schools).

Just this last week in the town of Springfield, Oregon, not far from where I live, Riverbend Elementary had to go into lockdown.  Police had gotten a tip that a convicted felon, high on meth and suicidal, was armed with a gun and headed to his child's school.  The school responded with the lockdown.  Luckily, police intercepted the man.  He was armed with three firearms in his car.

Two days later, in Salem, Oregon, three schools went into lockdown for 45 minutes, including South Salem High, Howard Street Charter Middle School, and Bush Elementary schools, when there was a shooting in the streets nearby.  One man was injured in the shooting.

A few days before that, two schools in Portland, Grant High School and nearby Beverly Cleary School, went on lockdown when two men were openly carrying semi-automatic assault rifles next to the schools.  

And, of course, we can't forget the Umpqua Community College shooting a couple weeks ago.

From Everytown's interactive map of school shootings
since 2013 (HERE).
Remember the "Duck and Cover" movement of the 1950's and '60's?  A whole generation of school children were asked to imagine a nuclear bomb hitting their little American towns and cities.  They were told that, if there was a big flash or a little warning, they were to immediately take cover under their desks and wait for an all-clear signal.  In their minds, they could imagine a nuclear bomb exploding and a massive fireball washing over their schools, burning them alive.  Nowadays, it's not a specter of a giant bomb killing them, but a more personal, and realistic killer walking their halls.  It's happened 150 times since 2013!  See an interactive map of them here.  And school shootings are increasing.

The Trace did a study of lockdowns and found an astonishing 100 school lockdowns (not drills!) in just a two-week period.  From the article:

[A]t least 100 lockdowns made the news during those two weeks. That’s an average of about 10 lockdowns due to a potential threat per school day. Of the 10 school days tracked, only one was incident-free."

And that's just the ones reported by media, that they could find with their searches.
Video capture from the ALICE training video shown to students.

School systems are now making videos and programs to teach students and faculty how to respond in the event of an active shooter incident.  One video, from an Ohio school system, even suggests that the students attack the shooter if they come in the room.  See it HERE.  It teaches the ALICE program (which stands for "Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate"), which is being taught in a number of schools and colleges around the nation.  The video, which is shown to students, shows a man with a handgun enter a classroom and the teen students attacking and swarming over the man, holding him down, all the while stating, "If it is necessary to counter the aggressor's attack, you may be able to distract and disrupt the aggressor's plan by putting him on the defensive and possibly even disarming him by swarming him into submission until police arrive." One student gets shot and goes down before the other students dogpile the shooter.

That's right, they are recommending that child students attack the shooter if cornered.

It's not enough now that school kids have to worry about grades, homework, tests, relationships, sports, and all the usual things that kids have to think about.  Now we are asking them to think about cold-blooded killers stalking their halls, and potentially having to fight them to the death!

This has to end.  The answer isn't to arm every teacher, faculty, or even students, as the gun lobby has suggested, or to turn our schools into fortresses.  The answer is to keep from arming the lunatics in the first place.  And the only way to do that is to pass sensible gun laws, such as universal background checks (like the one enacted this year in Oregon), better mental health reporting to the background check system, child access prevention (CAP) laws to keep guns out of the hands of school kids, and a renewed ban on assault rifles and high-capacity ammo magazines.

Perhaps, if we pass such laws, lockdown drills at our schools will become a nightmare of the past, like "Duck and Cover" became, and we will find a new trajectory for our schools and communities away from gun violence.

ADDENDUM (10/21/15):  One pre-K school teacher from Virginia describes what it is like during a lockdown drill with her small students, trying to convey urgency without inciting fear or alarm, and the mental considerations that she has to endure as part of the process.  From the article "Rehearsing for death: A pre-K teacher on the trouble with lockdown drills":
Instead of controlling guns and inconveniencing those who would use them, we are rounding up and silencing a generation of schoolchildren, and terrifying those who care for them. We are giving away precious time to teach and learn while we cower in fear.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Pro-Gun Responses To The Umpqua Shooting: Part II -- Politicians Weigh In, Democrats vs. Repubicans

(This is Part II of a two-part series.  Part I focused on the response by local pro-gun Oregonians)

UPDATED (10/13/15): The Democratic candidates debated the issue of gun violence prevention.  Watch it HERE.

It's been 12 days since the horrible mass shooting at Umpqua Community College.

The wounded are healing.  Some have been released from the hospital.  And those who died are being remembered in various memorial services, vigils, and special events. (Examples HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.)

As of today, UCC has resumed classes.  There is a high police presence today to help reassure students, and there is increased mental counselling and comfort dogs present.

As I said in Part I of the series, it's no surprise to anyone that there are polar differences between the two sides of the gun debate.  Nothing displays that difference more than the responses after a large mass shooting.

There is certainly a stark difference between the responses of Democrats and Republicans.  Beyond the standard and utterly-repetitive "They are in our hearts and prayers" statement, many high-profile politicians weighed in with more substantive comments.


For Democratic politicians, they firmly placed themselves in the gun violence prevention camp, calling upon new gun laws to help keep guns out of the hands of madmen like the one who attacked UCC.  These statements are growing in number and becoming less wishy-washy with every new mass shooting that happens (we now have more than one a day in America, by the way!).

President Obama set the tone with his address to the nation later that day, the 15th time he has addressed the nation after mass shootings [see this interactive map to see each of those speeches].  In his speech, he minced no words in his call to pass new legislation to help prevent another of what has become "routine" mass shootings in America, and chastised Conservatives for not taking action.  He then came to Roseburg, personally, last Friday, to pay his respects to the victim families and survivors.  At least one family member, a father of a deceased victim, felt comforted by the visit.

Oregonian legislators also weighed in.  Representative Earl Blumenauer gave a passionate speech on the House floor.  He also rolled out a comprehensive plan to combat gun violence.  Senator Jeff Merkley lost an extended family member in the shooting, the great-granddaughter of a cousin of his [the extremist Oregon Firearms Federation mocked Merkley as part of their response to the UCC shooting, suggesting that Merkley had to do "hours of geneology" to find a connection and that he did this to "roll around in the blood of the victims at pressers and photo ops"].  Later, both Merkley and fellow Oregon senator Ron Wyden joined together in calling for stricter gun reforms, including background checks for all gun sales, strengthening the NICS background check system, and better prosecution of "straw purchase" sales.  

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has always been an advocate for tighter gun laws, but after the UCC shooting, she stepped up her emphasis on this need by affirming that she would stand up to the NRA and call for universal background checks.  [Update: She has also signaled that she would consider a gun buyback programsimilar to the one Australia enacted.]

The other major Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, has had a mixed history when it comes to gun reform, and has voted against some major gun reforms in the past.  He was against the Brady Background Check bill or waiting periods.  After the UCC shooting, he reversed some of his previous philosophies and released a statement that "consensus" is needed to prevent mass shootings.  He now wants to enforce instant background checks on all gun purchases, ban semi-auto assault rifle sales, make "straw purchases" a federal crime, and enhance mental health screening.  He has also said he would soon release a position statement on gun legislation, but to my knowledge has not yet done so.  On "Meet the Press," when pressed about his vote for the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act," (PLCAA)—which gave gun manufacturers, distributors and dealers unprecedented broad immunity from civil litigation—Sanders softened his position significantly, stating, "That was a complicated vote and I’m willing to see changes in that provision ... So can we take another look at that liability issue? Yes.”

A lesser-known Democratic presidential candidate, Martin O'Malley, has come out the strongest for gun reform and says he has a plan that includes a ban on assault weapons, "fingerprinting and licensing for every person who purchases a gun and for changing the laws so that trafficking illegal guns is a federal crime. He also urged the federal government to refuse to buy guns from manufacturers that do not use all safety technology available, such as micro-stamping."


It comes as no surprise that no Republican politician or candidate has suggested any plan whatsoever to keep guns out of the wrong hands.  They basically repeat the NRA propaganda talk, calling for more guns in more hands, blaming the mentally ill, or shrugging the issue off completely.  Since the UCC shooting, they've truly tooted the NRA horn.

Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush was by far the most flippant.  When asked about what he would do in the wake of the UCC shooting, he callously responded "Stuff happens."  He went on to say that government wasn't the answer we should "connect ourselves" and that it may not be the "right thing to do" to respond to a crisis of this sort in any way.

Another presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, responded to the UCC shooting by saying that the teachers and students should have been armed, then puffed himself up by saying he owns a gun and would shoot anyone who attacks him.  How very macho of him.  He then doubled down on his callousness and called mass shooters "geniuses in a certain way" and shrugged off any attempts to keep guns out of their hands, simply saying "That's the way the world goes."  He had previously come out against any new gun laws and blamed the mentally ill.  Trump has come out with a position statement on guns, which basically echoes the NRA by reinforcing the idea of self-defense, expanding conceal carry, opposing universal background checks, and again blaming the mentally ill.  

Another Presidential hopeful, Bobby Jindal, long an advocate for expanded gun rights, suggested that the UCC shooting was the fault of the shooter's father, cultural decay, and video games, even though the shooter had hardly been in contact with his father for years, and all other advanced nations share much of our culture and all of our video games.  Funny how he doesn't blame the shooter's mother at all, given that she armed her son, trained him in firearms, and turned a blind eye to his violent behavior and unhealthy interest in other mass shootings.  Jindal's philosophy seems to be a failed one, though, given that Louisiana is the second highest in the nation for per-capita shooting deaths.

A fourth presidential candidate, John Kasich, blamed the shooting on "loneliness" and "alienation" and completely shrugged off the role of guns.  He again blamed the mentally ill, too.

A final presidential candidate, Ben Carson, blamed the victims of the UCC shooting by saying that they were too compliant and let the shooter kill them, stating that if only he had been in that classroom, he "would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, 'Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me but he can't get us all.'"  He also doubled down on his pro-gun rhetoric by saying "but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."  Wow.  Apparently this doctor has forgotten his Hippocratic oath to prevent harm to patients and that, according to the oath, he has "special obligations to all my fellow human beings".  The heartless nature of Carson astounds even me!  Naturally, a great many people were incensed by his statements, including the daughter of a Sandy Hook victim.  Well, it turns out that Carson had been in a robbery at a restaurant years before, and when the gunman aimed his gun at him, Carson didn't attack him, but rather mildly said, "I believe that you want the guy behind the counter."  What a "hero."

Well, gun violence isn't a "Democrat" or "Republican" issue, as I see it.  Bullets don't care what your political affiliation is, and neither do most gunmen when they pull the trigger.  Gun violence is an urgent public health crisis, with 33,000 killed and 70,000 injured per year in the U.S. in gun homicides, suicides, and accidents.  Sadly, Republicans roundly refuse to consider ways to keep guns out of the wrong hands, preferring instead to proliferate guns in our society and blame boogeymen like the mentally ill, loneliness, or video games, or not caring about the issue at all.  So we need to vote for the candidates, whatever their party, who will do more to keep guns out of the wrong hands and have a plan to do so.

UPDATE (11/9/15):  Hillary Clinton has now unveiled her full gun violence prevention plan.