Gun Control

The recent increase in gun-related tragedies have brought the gun control debate back into political discourse. We'll have an expert from the ATF with in-depth knowledge of the current laws and their effectiveness. We'll also have someone very knowledgable about the politics of gun laws: Doug Craig, vice chairman of the GA Libertarian party.

Location is tentative depending on availability and the number of rsvps we get, but we'll target somewhere on the North side of the city or just north of the perimeter.

 

We try to start around 7:30, but if you'd like to eat food, it helps if you arrive before 7:30 so the wait staff aren't as much in the way.

 

About arriving late: no worries! It's nice if we can start on time, but we have people show up an hour late all the time.

 

Book exchange: bring any books you want to get rid of, and pick up something new! (thanks for the idea, Erin!).  There's also a bulletin board thread for book suggestions.

 

There's an optional $1 fee to help cover the yearly meetup fees and buy the speaker's dinner.

 

Our group provides a way to meet and hear from people you would never run into otherwise. We provide a place to respectfully exchange views, and welcome any viewpoint. Members come from all over Atlanta and from all different age ranges (college to retired). We have a strict "be nice" policy, and are more about learning than honing debate skills. Devil's advocates are encouraged!

 

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  • Jay W.

    Doctors kill 2,450% more Americans than all gun-related deaths combined. Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/038889_doctors_guns_statistics.html#ixzz2KPNjwpbS

    Attend our next Small group Debate on: Over-Diagnosed: Making People Sick in Pursuit of Health

    February 9, 2013

  • Jay W.

    Great meeting. I wish we could have talked more about what is the major cause of gun violence, which is drugs, and how legalizing drugs would likely reduce gun violence by +50%. If we can save even one person by legalizing drugs, it is not worth it?

    January 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry to miss this, but I had a dental emergency.

    I'm sure I missed a good one. Hope to meet y'all soon.

    January 29, 2013

  • Spence

    One more post (barring more questions) before we get together tonight. This article gets to the bigger issue of real gun violence in America. Shootings like Newtown, Aurora, and VT garner major media coverage and are often the impetus for change. However, 72 percent of homicides in America are committed with handguns. Of the 165,068 murders committed between[masked] (data excludes FL), nearly 50 percent of the victims were black, and almost all were males between 12-39 years old. These stats from the Wall Street Journal, and the interactive graphs, provide a wealth of data about real street crime, and consequently the type of violence that--depending upon your perspective-- new gun laws might be better served to target.

    http://projects.wsj.com/murderdata/?mg=inert-wsj#view=all
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/29/us/handguns-and-federal-legislation/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

    January 29, 2013

  • Spence

    Those things said, the fact that flash suppressors and pistol grips do nothing to affect lethality is exactly correct. Further, the civilian model ARs and AKs do function in the same manner as pistols, revolvers, some hunting rifles, and shotguns. They are by definition semi automatic. That is, they fire one round every time the trigger is pulled. However, they differ in operation from shotguns and some bolt action rifles in that those weapons require the operator to induce action in order to advance another live round. A shotgun is semi automatic, but most require the user to cycle the pump, inducing the "clack-clack" sound that is synonymous with a shotgun. That slideshow has its own political message, and barring a few convenient uses of statistics, makes a fairly valid point about the characteristics of basic weapons.

    January 27, 2013

  • Spence

    This slideshow has been getting bounced around social media, and I wanted to correct some of its inaccuracies, as well as point out that its underlying point is generally correct. http://www.assaultweapon.info/

    A few slides in, the author says that the M4A1 is fully automatic, which is by definition correct. The military grade M4s are capable of firing 3 round burst on a single trigger pull. The current M4s in military inventor do NOT, however, fire all 30 rounds in the magazine on a trigger pull. A couple slides later the author says that the civilian version is only capable of firing 45-60 rounds a minute. This is an outright lie, but makes for a nice juxtaposition when combined with the next part of the sentence the author uses, which says that fully automatics fire 1000+ rounds a minute. That rate of fire is a characteristic of what the military calls a "crew served weapon." This is an entirely different class of weapon that is no where in the current discussion.

    January 27, 2013

  • Spence

    There is no doubt that the violent crime rate in the US has fallen since 1993, and the video accurately cites the stat for rifle use in violent crime. My only commentary would be a small caution about how the FBI data is compiled. As I said below, each municipality is responsible for reporting its data to the FBI, and I have seen tremendous pressure exerted on occasions by politicians to manipulate this data. City councils who control police department budgets are rarely keen on having their area labeled as "violent," and can impact this data. The FBI UCR includes this warning "The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities, counties, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges or universities solely on the basis on their population coverage..." Here's the link to the cautions: http://www.ucrdatatool.gov/ranking.cfm That said, in no universe do I think all that accounts for the general decline in violent crime.

    January 25, 2013

  • Jay W.

    An interesting look at crime statistics.. and comparing with other countries. Most violent crime occurs in large metro areas. England, has 3 times more violent crime per 100k people and fewer murders than the USA.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ooa98FHuaU0&feature=player_embedded

    January 24, 2013

  • Spence

    The link below is to a pretty good summary of several topics related to gun control, and does a good job highlighting the differences in various laws at the state level. Each sub-screen contains more info about the definition of "assault weapon" (hint: there isn't a good one), and other good definitions of basic terminology. http://www.ajc.com/news/national/gun-control/

    Note that the AJC/AP make a leap about hi-cap magazines when they say things like "fired several rounds in less than a minute with his Glock 19 handgun thanks to a high-capacity magazine," that many who are against this proposed ban find ignorant and uneducated. A moderately trained shooter can reload a handgun and be back on target in easily less than 3 seconds, and firing "several rounds in less than a minute" is not all that impressive.

    January 20, 2013

  • Spence

    There is, and will continue to be a lot of rhetoric surrounding President Obama's news conference and announcement today. Unfortunately, because of my professional career, I'm not in a place to provide my personal opinion on anything that has been outlined thus far. Suffice to say that despite the much commented upon Executive Orders signed today, very little of that impacts things from a real enforcement perspective.

    January 16, 2013

    • Spence

      Here are links from the ATF website of the memoranda directing all federal law enforcement agencies to trace firearms through ATF, as well as clarifying some of the comments on NICS. http://atf.gov/press/...­

      January 16, 2013

    • Spence

      Effective with this order, federal law enforcement agencies are now required to trace firearms recovered in the course of their collective investigations. Prior to this, it was at the discretion of the agencies. In reality, the VAST majority of federal agencies were already tracing firearms. Where we have disconnect in tracing is at the state and local level, which this EO does nothing to address.

      January 16, 2013

  • Jay W.

    Here is the list of the 23 orders from Obama 1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
    2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
    3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
    4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
    5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
    6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
    7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

    January 16, 2013

    • Jay W.

      16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
      17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
      18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
      19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
      20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
      21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
      22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
      23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

      January 16, 2013

    • Jay W.

      If one uses critical reasoning skills to dissect the 23 new Executive orders, one would reach the conclusion that they encroach on:

      2A - right to keep and bear arms
      4A - right to privacy
      5A - right to remain silent
      9A - enumeration of right, shall not be construed to deny or disparage rights retained by the people
      10A - powers not delegated by the Constitution are reserved to the States

      Damn near a clean sweep!

      January 16, 2013

  • Spence

    This article is some of CNN's better work and does a good job of explaining how background checks work under the current system: http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/14/us/universal-background-checks/index.html

    You'll note that I said there were 9 categories of persons who are prohibited from owning firearms or ammunition under federal law, but NICS in its current form primarily checks only for felonies, misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, and immigration status.

    January 16, 2013

  • Spence

    NY state appears ready to pass one of, and likely the, toughest gun law in the country. In summary it will incorporate the requirements of the Feinstein bill (registration of "assault weapons" at the state level), require that the sale of an assault weapon between individuals be processed by an FFL (which would trigger a background check), require those currently owning hi-cap magazines (more than 7 rounds under this law) to sell them out of state, along with a host of provisions the Governor believes will limit gun violence in the state. Full link here, although this story does leave some unanswered questions. http://www.npr.org/2013/01/15/169385630/n-y-poised-to-be-1st-to-pass-post-massacre-gun-bill?sc=tw

    January 15, 2013

  • Spence

    Received an email seeking clarification on the "gun show loophole."

    Essentially, if a federal firearms licensee-- generally gun store owners-- sell firearms at a gun show, they are required to conduct business exactly the same way as they would in their shop This requires asking for ID and completing background checks through what's known as NICS. The same requirement is not in place on "individual sales." So, if you inherit 100 guns from your parents tomorrow, you can set up a table at a gun show, sell all of them, and federal law does not require you to check ID, record the names of persons to whom you sold them, or conduct background checks on any of those people. Also, you can sell firearms in the aisles of a gun show between individuals without conducting any checks either. Walk up, tap the guy on the shoulder, and ask him how much he wants for the gun on his shoulder. Cash sale, and out the door. Clearly, there is wide latitude for abuse and a very large gray area.

    January 14, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Sorry - I hit return before finished. To continue--- If you are a dealer, you must be licensed and follow legal procedures that licensing dictates. If you are not a dealer, you can sell without following the rules that apply to licensed dealers. At some sales volume level you are required to become a dealer. I must admit ignorance on this subject. I do not know the volume. This is very similar to selling of used cars. You can sell your car to another individual from home, run ads, sell at a car show, whatever. However if you are a car dealer, you must have a license and follow procedures dictated by the license. Is there a car show loophole if you sell your car at a show? Of course not. And same thing as gun dealers, you have to get a license as a car dealer if you sell a certain volume - it used to be 4 cars per year, but not sure what it is now.

      January 14, 2013

    • Spence

      Federal law is vague on the definition of this point. The benchmark is whether or not a person engages in the purchasing and sale of firearms as their primary means of income. Clearly, that's really hard to prove and the overarching point is that just because it isn't paying your light bill, it doesn't necessarily mean you aren't providing a vast number of firearms to the criminal element.

      January 14, 2013

  • Spence

    While I'm not certain about the origins of the phrase in common usage, the term "loophole" seems to hinge on the requirement to conduct a background check. My professional experience is that many in the criminal element are well aware of the rules at gun shows, and I've interviewed many, many prohibited persons who obtained their firearms at gun shows. To that end, there are 3 main ways in which prohibited persons obtain firearms (in no particular order): gun shows, burglaries (both of homes and gun stores), and straw purchasing. Different mechanisms would be necessary to impact the ease with which the criminal element is able to use each of these to obtain firearms illegally. Various organizations have tried to assign percentages to each of these methods as an acquisition method, but there is little debate by those of us who deal with it everyday that these are the 3 primary methods. The solutions to each, as we know, are a political minefield.

    January 14, 2013

  • Spence

    This CNN article does a good job, even though there is some underlying political message (on which I offer no opinion), of outlining the type of firearms violence that is far and away more common than shootings such as Newtown or Aurora.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/12/us/gun-violence-philadelphia-newtown/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

    These crimes are quite different from the Newtown shootings, but serve to highlight the differences in the firearms acquisition methods I was addressing in earlier posts.

    January 12, 2013

  • Spence

    Here is a link to a quick summary of how most of our current firearms laws have evolved, and a brief summary of each: http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/10/politics/us-gun-laws/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

    The history of firearms laws in the US is complicated, but the unifying factor is that they tend to be enacted following major events. Each of the laws addressed in this brief article could be modified heavily by some of the legislation currently pending. It is important not to confuse the CCCA and ACC (which significantly increased the penalties for using NFA weapons during crime), with an outright prohibition of these weapons. The federal penalty for committing a violent crime with a short barreled shotgun is significantly higher than the penalty for committing the same crime with a handgun. Federal sentencing is complicated (and could be a discussion topic in and of itself!), but the ACC and CCCA added mandatory minimums to certain offenses involving various firearms violations.

    January 10, 2013

  • Jay W.

    Are "mass killings" often the result of psychiatric medications the perpetrator was under treatment for mental-health problems?
    Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/01/the-giant-gaping-hole-in-sandy-hook-reporting/#DYurgXk0OLsgP6EF.99

    For example, Luvox, (used by a Columbine mass-killer, and other mass-killers) manufactured by Solvay Pharmaceuticals: during controlled clinical trials, 4 percent of children and youth taking Luvox – that’s 1 in 25 – developed mania, a dangerous and violence-prone mental derangement characterized by extreme excitement and delusion.

    January 7, 2013

  • Spence

    More email questions answered here: There is no such thing as a federal firearms registry. When LE encounters a firearm, it is generally traced (although this depends upon the department that recovers it.) Once that trace is completed (see the first article I posted for how a trace actually happens), the answer we will get back is the name and identifying info of the FIRST LEGAL PURCHASER of the firearm in US commerce. Generally, if the first purchase was more than 4-6 years ago, it isn't very helpful in solving the case. The only way to determine the life of a firearm from first purchase to crime scene is to try and track down and interview the first purchaser and figure out what he/she did with it. We then have to do the same for every person who owned the firearm in between. It is very difficult to follow that chain if it has been more than a few years. I would guess-timate that the trace result helps further an investigation less than 20% of the time.

    January 5, 2013

  • Spence

    Here is a good link to some of the changes, or lack thereof, that have been implemented at the state level following several high profile mass shootings: http://www.propublica.org/article/mass-shootings-do-little-to-change-state-gun-laws

    Many of the things that were introduced at the state level, such as Alabama's law making it illegal to provide false information to a firearms dealer, were and are illegal already at the federal level.

    January 3, 2013

  • Spence

    Here is the link to the 2011 FBI Uniformed Crime Reports for violent crime: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/violent-crime/violent-crime

    The data is a bit incongrous because every agency reports to FBI separately. Therefore, to determine the number of murders in say, DeKalb County, you would have to examine the data reported by not only the DeKalb County PD, but also Decatur, Clarkston, and every other small PD in the county.

    Back to the gun control issue, I think one of the fundamental things that has been lacking is clarification about what exactly the new/modified laws would be designed to prevent. The type of violence you want those of us in law enforcement to prevent is very relative to a new law that might be introduced. The typology and firearms acquisiton method of recent mass shooters is VASTLTY different that the typology and firearms acquisition method of someone who murders during a drug deal.

    January 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    The following is interesting and somewhat morbid considering the recent events and the upcoming meeting. No comments from me other than the vast differences between the first five state and the last five states on this list: are the differences due only to cultural and demographic factors? Also, note that the numbers do not account for differences between accidents and homicides.

    www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/usa/firearms-death-rate.

    Another posting somewhat related at a later time perhaps.

    January 3, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I compared the 'gun related death rate' to the 'violent crime rate', the statistic chart just below, and it seems that you can fairly easily account for the "likely hunting accidents" vs "murder" factor in several states. using Wyoming as the example: #1 in gun deaths, #48 in violent crime - one can assume these are not murders. contrast DC which is #1 in violent crime & #5 in gun deaths - fairly consistent that gun deaths are criminal in nature. but what about TN - #9 in gun deaths and #5 in violent crime - certainly not an "urban issue"; high likelihood for hunting accidents, but the violent crime rate is high.

      January 3, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      didn't mean to post yet - was trying to edit... argh! in any event - thanks Mike - provides good food for thought.

      January 3, 2013

  • Spence

    In response to more email, I am providing some links to the bulk of existing federal firearms law. Title 18 USC 922 is the section of US code where most of the prohibited acts under Gun Control Act of 1968 are codified, and is the primary criminal enforcement tool for federal criminal firearms violations. Section 924 lists the penalties for the violations. The entire GCA includes Sections[masked] of Title 18 and is very long.

    Section 922 can be found here: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/922
    Subsection (g) lists the 9 categories of persons who are prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition under federal law. The entire GCA can be found here: http://atf.gov/publications/download/p/atf-p-5300-4.pdf Also, back to NFA and for example, there are 114,110 registered NFA devices in the state of GA. Of those, 22,081 are machineguns. See page 14 here: http://atf.gov/publications/firearms/050412-firearms-commerce-in-the-us-annual-statistical-update-2012.pdf

    January 2, 2013

  • Spence

    As a side note, and something I meant to include in my original post, I would quibble with Mr. Correia's statement that criminals are easily able to manufacture or acquire automatic weapons. The use of automatic weapons in street crime is exceedingly rare, and my professional experience is that there are certainly not "conservatively dozens of illegal ones (machineguns) in the hands of criminals"... That fact aside, the author accurately summarizes NFA and other current gun control law.

    January 1, 2013

  • Spence

    Hi Larry and other members--

    The author of that article provides a cogent summary of one side of the gun control debate, and one that I encounter often in my professional career. Professionally I cannot and will not take a stand on either side of the debate, but I would encourage people attending this meetup to read the article Larry posted in order to hear both sides of the argument.

    January 1, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This is an interesting article - a bit long, but a worthwhile read.
    http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/an-opinion-on-gun-control/

    January 1, 2013

  • Spence

    I received an email asking for clarification on the current requirements under the National Firearms Act (NFA), so here goes.

    Essentially NFA requires that citizens desiring to possess short barreled shotguns (less than 18in barrel length and 26in overall), short barreled rifles (less than 16in barrel length and 26 in overall), machine guns (a firearm capable of firing more than one round with a single trigger pull), suppressors (anything capable of reducing the report of a firearm) undergo an extra screening process and pay a tax (generally $200) to possess the device.

    Worth noting, none of the firearms used in recent mass shootings, including an AR-15, is required to be registered under NFA. The requirement comes into force once one of the above requirements is met. Assault rifle is NOT synonymous with machine gun, and under current law a citizen can own unlimited number of AK-47's or AR-15's without any more scrutiny than that required to purchase a pistol or shotgun.

    January 1, 2013

  • Spence

    In an effort to provide everyone as much legal background as possible, I will continue to post some links to firearms related laws and news. Here is a link to the modified "Assault Weapons Ban" that Sen. Diane Feinstein's office says she will introduce this month: http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/assault-weapons Parts of this bill are familiar from the now lapsed version, but the part about requiring the registration of grandfathered assault weapons under the National Firearms Act would represent a monumental piece of legislation and one that is sure to be hotly contested.

    Also, I'm happy to use this medium to try and answer questions in the weeks proceeding this meetup. If you have gun law questions ahead of time, fire away and I will try to provide a straightforward answer.

    January 1, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This is my first event. Is it going to be a conversation between all members or is it going to consist mainly of lectures from the libertarian and the ATF officer?

    January 1, 2013

    • Scott D.

      We'll probably do about 20min at the beginning of just the experts, and then have a big group discussion.

      January 1, 2013

  • Spence

    Here is a link to a story about how firearms are traced in America. While I take no stance on any of the legislation that has been introduced, the NYT does a good job of outlining how exactly a trace is completed.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/26/us/legislative-handcuffs-limit-atfs-ability-to-fight-gun-crime.html?pagewanted=all

    December 30, 2012

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