Public Safety


Welcome to the Golden Age of Arms Dealing

By Tina Dupuy

In 2004, the families of eight gunshot victims sued the manufacturer and dealer of the Bushmaster XM-15 used in the DC Sniper rampage for negligence. They won. The New York Times reported, "Under the terms of the settlement, Bushmaster Firearms Inc. of Windham, Maine, the gun's maker, will pay $550,000 to the victims' families; Bull's Eye Shooter Supply of Tacoma, Washington, the gun dealer, will pay $2 million."

What about the families from the Amish schoolhouse shootings? Virginia Tech? The 2007 Northern Illinois University shooting? The Gabby Giffords shooting in Tucson? The Carson City, Nevada IHOP massacre in 2011? The Aurora Theater shooting? Or the parents of the first-graders gunned down in Newtown?

California Farmers Alarmed as Energy Companies Outbid Ag Water Districts for Resource

By Dan Aiello

There's a new water interest bidding for California's limited water supplies, and the managers of California's historic agriculture-centric water districts in the Central Valley aren't smiling.

With a finite supply of water, Sacramento may have to choose between expanding food production or fracking wells and oil and natural gas production. Either option will likely lead to increases in food or energy costs for consumers.

Out-of-state, (primarily Texas-headquartered) energy companies with deep pockets from record profits and the strongest lobby in Sacramento are anxious to extract as much severance tax-free California oil from the ground as quickly as possible.

Freedom vs. Gun Control: An Absurd Dichotomy

By Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH

Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut the news and internet has been abuzz with some variant of "Freedom vs. Gun Control," as if no reasonable rational alternative exists beyond this absolute dichotomy. In the mix is always the Second Amendment: "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." The Second Amendment has been interpreted both as a right to individual self-defense and, by some, as a check on government, i.e. a right to use force to overthrow a "tyrannical" government.

The Assault Weapons Ban: A Red Herring

By Tina Dupuy

The philosophy behind the quackery known as homeopathic medicine is that "like cures like." As in: have a burn, apply a hot compress. This widely-panned pseudoscience (oh man, am I going to get letters) in its 300 years of existence has a history of being debunked, going away and then popping up a few decades later.

But this is the solution the NRA offers: Too many shootings requires more people armed and able to shoot. The problem AND the cure are basically the same: lots of guns.

Tougher Gun Control Laws on the Horizon in California

By Christopher Allen
California Progress Report

Following the horrific mass-shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a number of California lawmakers are pressing forward with legislation to clamp down on the regulation of certain types of firearms, ammunition or gun magazine technology in the Golden State.

Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) has reintroduced legislation that would ban the use of "bullet button" or "mag magnet" magazines that allow the rapid replacement of empty gun magazines with full ones by the pressing of a button. The bill would also prohibit the sale and use of add-on kits that would enable the use of high-capacity magazines.

President Endorses Reinstatement of Assault Weapons Ban, Other Gun Safety Legislation

By David Dayen

The President will support a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban in the wake of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. He will also "consider" legislation limiting extended magazines that carry a high capacity of bullets, as well as legislation closing the "gun show loophole," which enables gun purchasers to avoid background checks by buying them at gun shows. Press Secretary Jay Carney also emphasized the importance of improving the nation's mental health system as a way to prevent more mass shootings. This is certainly further than the President had been willing to go after other similarly situated mass shootings over the first term. Vice President Biden will lead a task force that will presumably come up with legislative and administrative steps to curtail gun violence.

Feinstein Plans to Reintroduce Assault Weapons Ban Next Year

By David Dayen

Dianne Feinstein, author of the 1994 assault weapons ban that expired under President George W. Bush in 2004, told Meet the Press that she plans to reintroduce the law on the first day of the new Congress in 2013. The bill seeks to respond to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, one of several this year.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D, said she intended to introduce a gun control bill on the first day of the next Congress. Paired with a twin version in the House, Feinstein's law would take aim at limiting the sale, transfer and possession of assault weapons, along with the capacity of high-capacity magazines.

"It can be done," she said on NBC's "Meet the Press." The senator, a proponent of gun control, said she expected Obama to offer his public support for the law.