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


Posted on 19 December 2012

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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.

This follows a number of pro-gun politicians altering their views to allow for some manner of gun safety legislation, including not only NRA Democrats like Joe Manchin, Tim Johnson and Mark Warner, but even some Republicans like Charlie Dent, Jack Kingston and John McCain, the most prominent GOP member to cross that line. Republicans appear to be emphasizing the mental health angle above the gun safety angle, but while the former may apply in this and other mass casualty situations, the latter could get lots of illegal guns off the streets and prevent gun violence more generally.

The assault weapons ban in particular could be helped along by musical committee chairs in the Senate, following the death of Daniel Inouye. The longtime Hawaii lawmaker chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee, a spot held by the last couple President pro tems of the Senate. The new President pro tem is Patrick Leahy, and he has expressed interest in the job. That would open up the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the committee of jurisdiction for gun legislation like this. And Dianne Feinstein, author of the assault weapons ban, would have the inside track.

Feinstein moving to the Judiciary Committee could upset the plans of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is also interested in running the committee, which has oversight over gun control legislation. But Feinstein's seniority within the caucus -- she has been in the Senate since 1992, while Schumer has only been in the upper house since 1999 -- means she will be first in line under Democratic rules. That is a rule Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would be unlikely to overrule when he makes committee leadership recommendations to his caucus.

Feinstein has pledged to introduce gun control legislation on the first day of the new Congress in January. She has said she will specifically seek to ban new sales of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines of the type reportedly used in the Newtown shooting. House Democrats say they will also push for a ban on high-capcity magazines, which make it easy to blast out many bullets quickly.

This would open up the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which could move in a very positive direction if Ron Wyden decides to take it. Marcy Wheeler has the story on that.

House Democrats are holding a press conference on companion legislation they've introduced, called the McCarthy-DeGette Assault Magazine Ban Bill. That would mirror legislation aimed at limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines.

No member of the Republican leadership has offered any possibility that they would favor any gun safety legislation, so the opportunity for actual changes in the law remains remote until that time. However, Democrats appear to be unifying on the issue, with the knowledge that their base is sufficiently concentrated outside areas where the NRA mentality rules supreme. If they don't get the law changed, they probably figure they can make some political hay.


David Dayen is a Santa Monica-based writer, speaker and political activist. He blogs at Firedoglake, where this article originally appeared.

"Gun Control" or perhaps we should call it gun regulation; it one of the step our legislature can potentially curb the crime due to guns in schools; particularly in "elementary schools".

What the general public does Not know is that we have a State Agency called OSHA under Department of Industrial Relations. This Agency is responsible for conducting an on-site evaluation--making sure that these schools MEET the "Safe School Program" mandates. I don't particularly know how often they conduct these on-site visits. However in my experience with Grant Elementary School in San Jose, CA where I was attacked and beaten in January 20,2004, no one in that Agency even responded let alone came to visit the school when I filed my complaints regarding the unsafe school grounds and school rooms prior to my horrific experiences.

This is a failure of the Agency which was under the direction of John C. Duncan.

The school was predominently latino students or children of color situated in the San Jose Downtown area. There were prior public forum with the superintendent of the school in San jose unified School District regarding this issue. As a matter of fact the former principal Janis Hubbs attended on of this meeting and raise the issue of the lack of appropriate fencing--incomplete fencing that should surround the school grounds.

In post-attacked, there were more efforts to evade responsibilities therefore avoiding liabilities of the self-funded insurance carrier of the San Jose unified School District which was effectively accomplished by their counsel filing a motion for "summary judgment".

Under the Safe School Measure, the administrator is mandated to report the incident to OSHA and to the local media so that public is aware and on notice that such a criminal act took place in an elementary school. This area where the school is located had a robust residential redevelopment projects. It would not be in the interest of the real estate project if the Grant Elementary School was to have an adverse publicity as a result of my being attacked and beaten.

The school was in the district of former Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who subsequently campaign for San Jose Mayoral position after my devastating experience at Grant Elementary School. Which at or around the same time when the City of San Jose has been awarded as the "SAFEST" Urban City in the Nation.

When school officials fail to report ALL criminal incidents (in my case elementary school principal and SJUSD superintendent) to the proper authorities such as OSHA and to the MEDIA as manadated by law, it prevent the flow of safety measures that follows to prevent catastrophic event in our school district. Covering-up the incidents or mitigating the public exposure to such news are not giving the public the information and thus preventing the public at large from engaging in the process of preventing foreseeable safety hazards in their City and communities. As such, the failure of enforcement of existing laws (in this case Safe School Measure) is DISSERVICE to the public at large.

Putting redevelopment project interest and preventing adverse reaction from the public to politicians is NOT the priority of good governance. "SAFETY and the greater good of it citizens should always be the FIRST and FOREMOST PRIORITY.

In the case of Sandy Hook Elementary School, it begs the question how effective the school staffers are implementing the SAFETY School Measure. School Staffs should not be so dependent and reliance on the mechanic to protect the school such as the surrounding fences and the ingress-egress, and on-site cameras to prevent crime on school premises. The human capacity to perform his or her duty that only humans can do will depend on the proper execution of an effective school safety systems.

In my case,at the Grant Elementary School, the buddy system where no one should be left alone without another person when closing the school premise. This is where the responsible school staff failed to do that job which left me at-risk of the danger that manifested in January 20, 2004.

When investigative reporter has reported that the Sandy Hook Elementary School had all the safety mechanics in place,which seems to me a much more security measures than what many of elementary school has in the urban cities throughout our nation, it suggest to me that perhaps there has been -in the past- that prompted this school to allocate funding for security. If the security mechanism are there, then I would probe on the staffers that are responsible for monitoring the egress-ingress and school yards.

We can not WAIT until an actual KILLING to occur before our government take action. We the public should be NOTIFIED of every incidents so that the public can be vigilant in their communities and schools and take actions where government can not.

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