WBEZ | gun laws http://www.wbez.org/tags/gun-laws Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en At Indiana Gun Show, Some Welcome Stricter Background Checks http://www.wbez.org/news/indiana-gun-show-some-welcome-stricter-background-checks-114412 <p><div>Indiana gun owners listened closely this week as President Barack Obama outlined executive steps that he says will curb gun violence. One action would take direct aim at the so-called &ldquo;gun show loophole,&rdquo; where private sellers are not required to conduct a background check.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks or be subject to criminal prosecutions. It doesn&rsquo;t matter whether you&rsquo;re doing it over the internet or at a gun show, President <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/live-address-obama-takes-his-plan-gun-control-public-114377" target="_blank">Obama said from the White House on Tuesday.&nbsp;</a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Indy%20Guns%202.JPG" style="height: 413px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="A vendor’s table shows the wide variety of weapons available at gun shows in Indiana. President Obama wants to require private sellers of guns to obtain a background check before selling a gun to an individual. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" />Gun shows are big business in the Hoosier state. In Northwest Indiana there&rsquo;s one happening nearly every month.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The latest occurred in Crown Point in December at the Lake County Fairgrounds. Nick, a Schererville resident who declined to give his last name, attended the show with his father.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While he acknowledged the loophole, he wasn&rsquo;t convinced that closing it would make much of a difference.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Look at the gangbangers in Chicago. Do you think they all have carry cards? No,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;[Do] we need more laws? No you don&rsquo;t. You need to enforce the laws you have.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But those in favor of stricter background checks say the law they need doesn&rsquo;t exist.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;There are individuals at these gun shows that are skirting the law. They are called private dealers,&rdquo; said Lake County, Indiana Sheriff John Buncich.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Buncich&rsquo;s headquarters is just down the road from where the Crown Point gun show was held. He said he has tried to shut down the gun shows but other county officials have ignored his calls.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;What we found is that in the parking lots of a lot of these gun shows, individuals will conduct illegal sales,&rdquo; Buncich said.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Law enforcement officials say many of those guns end up on the streets of Chicago and contribute to violence.</div><div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Indy%20Guns%201.JPG" style="height: 720px; width: 540px;" title="Felix Gonzalez of Chicago walks out of a gun show in Crown Point, Indiana in December with bags of ammunition. President Obama’s executive action would require more stringent background checks at gun shows in Indiana, primarily between private parties. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" /></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Chicago resident Felix Gonzalez, who walked out of the gun show with two big bags of bullets, said tougher gun controls ultimately hurt law-abiding citizens.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It punishes the railroad worker who lives in these bad areas, the young middle-class black family who basically has been denied the right to protect their family,&rdquo; Gonzalez, who also serves an a firearms instructor, said.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Inside the show, a crowd of hunters and sportsmen perused tables filled with semi-automatic rifles, pistols and ammunition of every size and type.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Vendor Tom Huffman, a retired police officer from Kokomo, Indiana, drove two hours to sell his wares at the show. His company, called Tommy Guns, is federally licensed and performs background checks right on the spot.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I can sell a gentleman a gun. It will go through, be perfectly fine because he cleared all the background checks. He takes it home, keeps it a couple of weeks, sells it to his neighbor. His neighbor has no background check or anything,&rdquo; Huffman said.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Huffman says that&rsquo;s where the problem lies. &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;If we didn&rsquo;t have the private sales and things it would stop a lot of these guns getting into the wrong hands,&rdquo; Huffman said.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In his speech Tuesday President Obama said a majority of gun owners nationwide support stricter background checks.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In Indiana a recent survey by Ball State University found that 83 percent of 600 Hoosiers polled support background checks for private gun sales.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Indiana state Rep. Jim Lucas isn&rsquo;t among them. He&rsquo;s a southern Indiana Republican and one of the National Rifle Association&rsquo;s biggest supporters. He says the President&rsquo;s executive actions &ldquo;did nothing&rdquo; to make people safer.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Every mass shooter, or the vast majority of them, have passed background checks,&rdquo; Rep. Lucas said. &ldquo;And the Department of Justice has shown that less than 2 percent of criminals get their guns from gun shows.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>On the same day Obama outlined his executive orders, Lucas introduced his own two pieces of legislation at the Indiana statehouse. Both bills are aimed at expanding &mdash; not reducing &mdash; access to guns.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>(Reporter Ryan P. Delaney of WFYI in Indianapolis contributed to this report)&nbsp;</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana reporter. Follow him on Twitter @MikePuenteNews. Mike is also on Facebook, </em><em>Instagram</em><em> and Snapchat @Mike &lsquo;Miggy&rdquo; Puente.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 12:57:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/indiana-gun-show-some-welcome-stricter-background-checks-114412 In Live Address, Obama Takes His Plan for Gun Control to the Public http://www.wbez.org/news/live-address-obama-takes-his-plan-gun-control-public-114377 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/obamagunadd.JPG" alt="" /><p><div id="res462025768" previewtitle="President Obama met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss gun control measures, along with, left, acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Thomas Brandon and, right, FBI Director James Comey."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="President Obama met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss gun control measures, along with, left, acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Thomas Brandon and, right, FBI Director James Comey." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/05/obama_custom-6bdd1d27e11b18cd8eb79e8bb9165722443d62a4-s900-c85.jpg" style="height: 314px; width: 620px;" title="President Obama met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss gun control measures, along with, left, acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Thomas Brandon and, right, FBI Director James Comey. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters /Landov)" /></div><div><p>Saying that America faces a &quot;gun violence epidemic,&quot; President Obama is taking &quot;a series of commonsense executive actions&quot; to reduce gun violence Tuesday, the White House says. First among the measures: tighter rules on background checks for gun buyers.</p><p>President Obama made his case during a live address from the East Room of the White House Tuesday. We&#39;ve updated this post with news from the president&#39;s speech.</p><p>&quot;We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency,&quot; Obama said. &quot;It doesn&#39;t happen in other advanced countries. It&#39;s not even close.&quot;</p><p>The president invoked his own and gun owners&#39; views on constitutional rights &mdash; and he also invoked numerous mass shootings like the one in Newtown, Conn., late in 2012.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/05/462033317/watch-president-obama-gets-emotional-talking-about-gun-control">He grew emotional</a>&nbsp;at the end of his speech, at one point giving up attempts to <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/05/462033317/watch-president-obama-gets-emotional-talking-about-gun-control?ft=nprml&amp;f=462033317" target="_blank">wipe away tears from his eyes as he spoke</a>.</p></div></div><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/myfByN5p928?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><div id="storytext"><p>The executive actions&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/01/04/461954288/obama-to-announce-executive-actions-on-guns-tuesday">were announced Monday afternoon</a>, with the White House saying the steps were necessary because Congress failed to take action.</p><p><strong>Update at 12:25 p.m. ET: A Heroic Example</strong></p><p>President Obama tells the story of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.knoxnews.com/news/crime-courts/Police-investigating-2-shootings-in-7-hours-362913061.html">Zaevion Dobson</a>, the 15-year-old high school student who saved the lives of three girls when he dove on top of them during a shooting in December.</p><p>&quot;An act of heroism a lot bigger than anything we should ever expect from a 15-year-old,&quot; Obama says.</p><p>&quot;We are not asked to do what Zaevion Dobson did,&quot; the president says. &quot;We&#39;re not asked to have shoulders that big, a heart that strong, reactions that quick.&quot;</p><p>He added that those who want to see change in America&#39;s gun policies should work through obstacles, &quot;and do what a sensible country would do.&quot;</p><p><strong>Update at 12:18 p.m. ET: &#39;The Rest Of Our Rights&#39;</strong></p><p>Saying that Second Amendment rights matter, President Obama states:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;There are other rights that we care about, as well, and we have to be able to balance them. Because our right to worship freely and safely &mdash; that right was denied to Christians in Charleston, S.C.; and that was denied Jews in Kansas City; and that was denied Muslims in Chapel Hill, and Sikhs in Oak Creek. They had rights, too.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>He then says the right of peaceful assembly has been robbed in movie theaters in Colorado and Louisiana &mdash; and the pursuit of happiness and liberty has also been taken away in attacks on schools.</p><p>&quot;Those rights were stripped from college kids in Blacksburg, in Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers in Columbine, and from first graders in Newtown.&quot;</p><p>While applause had followed the president&#39;s listing of those events, his final words about students were said after an emotional pause; they were greeted with silence in the room.</p><p>The president repeated: &quot;First graders.&quot;</p><p>As he attempted to move on with his speech, Obama paused to wipe a tear from his eye.</p><p>&quot;Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,&quot; he said, his eyes now wet with tears. &quot;And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day.&quot;</p><p><strong>Update at 12:15 p.m. ET: Role Of Technology</strong></p><p>&quot;If a child can&#39;t open a bottle of aspirin, we should make sure they can&#39;t pull a trigger on a gun,&quot; Obama says.</p><p>He compares &quot;smart guns&quot; to smartphones that require a fingerprint the device, and mentions trackers that could help find a stolen gun.</p><p><strong>Update at 12:10 p.m. ET: The Plan</strong></p><p>President Obama starts outlining the four steps he&#39;s taking via executive action, from closing the gun show loophole to expanding background checks to catch people trying to evade controls by making purchases through corporations or other entities. Improved mental health care is also in the plan.</p><p>The president&#39;s plan rests on four main points:</p><blockquote><ul><li><strong>Background Checks</strong>:&nbsp;Require all gun sellers &mdash; including online and at gun shows &mdash; to have a license and perform background checks. Have the FBI overhaul the existing background-check system.</li><li><strong>Enforcement</strong>:&nbsp;Improve the use of America&#39;s existing gun laws, and add 200 new agents to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.</li><li><strong>Mental Health</strong>:&nbsp;Remove barriers that can keep states from reporting and sharing information about people barred from owning guns for mental health reasons, and spend $500 million to increase access to mental health care.</li><li><strong>Technology</strong>:&nbsp;Push for research in gun safety technology, such as &quot;smart guns&quot; that can only be fired by authorized users. The research would be done by the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security. The White House notes the federal government is &quot;the single largest purchaser of firearms in the country.&quot;</li></ul></blockquote><p><strong>Update at 12:07 p.m. ET: &#39;That&#39;s Not Right&#39;</strong></p><p>Obama faults Congress for making it more difficult to track and research gun violence in America, saying that public health experts now have more trouble collecting data and facts.</p><p>He adds that people who can&#39;t board a plane can still buy guns in America.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s not right,&quot; Obama says. &quot;That can&#39;t be right.&quot;</p><p>He then says, &quot;The gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage right now. But they cannot hold America hostage. We do not have to accept this carnage as the price of freedom.&quot; &mdash; prompting a standing ovation from the audience.</p><p><strong>Update at 12:03 p.m. ET: &#39;We Can Save Some&#39; Victims</strong></p><p>&quot;We maybe can&#39;t save everybody, but we can save some,&quot; Obama says, acknowledging that stopping every gun attack is likely an impossible goal.</p><p>He says that in Connecticut, gun deaths dropped 40 percent after the state began requiring background checks and gun safety courses &mdash; while in Missouri, gun deaths rose to almost 50 percent above the national average after the state repealed gun control laws on background checks and permits.</p><p><strong>Update at 11:58 a.m. ET: &#39;Different Set Of Rules&#39;</strong></p><p>Obama says it&#39;s time to end the system in which some gun buyers operate under a &quot;different set of rules&quot; from others.</p><p>Recalling the 2013 failure to approve gun control legislation in the Senate, Obama says it failed because of Republican resistance.</p><p>&quot;How did this become such a partisan issue?&quot; Obama asks, quoting calls for better background checks from former President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain.</p><p><strong>Update at 11:55 a.m. ET: The Second Amendment</strong></p><p>&quot;I taught constitutional law. I know a little about this,&quot; Obama said, insisting on his belief in the protections for gun owners. He adds that he thinks the right should be balanced with other protections.</p><p>And he says many gun owners agree with him.</p><p>&quot;A majority of gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale,&quot; Obama says.</p><p>He says there&#39;s no &quot;slippery slope&quot; to erode gun owners&#39; rights and confiscate guns.</p><p><strong>Update at 11:51 a.m. ET: Town Hall Meeting Thursday</strong></p><p>The president says he&#39;ll host a town hall meeting in Virginia to hear from both sides of the issue.</p><p>Calling for a sense of urgency about the issue, Obama says it&#39;s time &quot;not to debate the last mass shooting, but to try to prevent the next one.&quot;</p><p><strong>Update at 11:48 a.m. ET: Giffords Acknowledged</strong></p><p>Obama notes that former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot and barely survived in a 2011 attack in Tucson, Ariz., is attendance, setting off a wave of applause.</p><p>&quot;I know the pain that she and her family have endured these past five years,&quot; Obama says, noting the recovery efforts Giffords has undertaken.</p><p>&quot;Every single year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns,&quot; Obama says.</p><p>He adds that there&#39;s resilience in the room, along with heartache, among the survivors of gun violence.</p><p><strong>Update at 11:45 a.m. ET: Obama Speaks</strong></p><p>The president was greeted with a loud and sustained ovation after he was introduced by Mark Barden, who lost his son in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Obama recalled speaking with Barden after that tragedy.</p><p>&quot;That changed me that day,&quot; Obama said, adding that he hoped it would also change the country.</p><p>The president then listed a string of shootings, in Aurora, Colo., the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.</p><p>Our original post continues:</p><p>&quot;We have tens of thousands of people every single year who are killed by guns,&quot; Obama said Monday. &quot;We have suicides that are committed by firearms at a rate that far exceeds other countries. We have a frequency of mass shootings that far exceeds other countries.&quot;</p><p>In a public opinion poll from last August, 85 percent of Americans said they&#39;re in favor of expanding background checks, according to a Pew Research Center poll. Those in support included 88 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of Republicans.</p><p>The National Rifle Association has criticized Obama&#39;s plan, calling it &quot;a political stunt.&quot; In 2013, the group worked to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2013/04/17/177638177/senate-rejects-expanded-background-checks-for-gun-sales">block enhanced gun control legislation</a>&nbsp;that was introduced in the wake of the elementary school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.</p><p>Today, President Obama was introduced by Mark Barden, who lost his son in that shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.</p><p>As NPR&#39;s Scott Horsley reported Monday, &quot;ATF will play a central role in the administration&#39;s move, by clarifying what it means to be &#39;engaged in the business&#39; of selling guns. Until now, some collectors and hobbyists have been able to avoid that designation.&quot;</p><p>Scott added, &quot;the FBI is hiring 230 additional staff people to speed the processing of background checks.&quot;</p><p>Gun sales have reportedly been up, as buyers worried it might become harder or impossible to purchase some weapons.</p><p>Some of those buyers visited a gun store and shooting range in Lorton, Va., where customer Sherry Shoske&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/01/05/461997774/gun-owners-brace-for-obamas-executive-order">told NPR&#39;s Eyder Peralta</a>&nbsp;on Monday that she recently bought an Uzi &quot;because I thought that [Obama] was going to be making changes, so I should buy any gun that I want to buy before he makes the changes.&quot;</p><p>Several customers at the store acknowledged that America has a problem with gun violence &mdash; and that some rules should change. But they also said the issue is too complex for quick fixes.</p><p>One customer, Chris Harto, told Eyder, &quot;It&#39;s easy to say if we didn&#39;t have guns this wouldn&#39;t happen. But the reality is, there&#39;s over 300 million guns in this country, and they&#39;re not going to go away.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/05/462020685/obama-seeks-commonsense-gun-control-through-executive-actions?ft=nprml&amp;f=462020685" target="_blank"><em>This story will be updated via NPR</em></a></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 05 Jan 2016 10:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/live-address-obama-takes-his-plan-gun-control-public-114377 Eight Things Congress Actually Did This Year http://www.wbez.org/news/eight-things-congress-actually-did-year-114330 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/15134065586_b33f572da9_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res461411616"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Senate and House Democrats hold a news conference with first responders in November to announce their support for the permanent reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/29/gettyimages-497527294-1--0937ac36081a678608b0eab86b6b177b6fe79c60-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="Senate and House Democrats hold a news conference with first responders in November to announce their support for the permanent reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>When Republicans took over both chambers of Congress in January, party leaders vowed they would prove to the country that Republicans could govern. They promised to stop with the self-made crises, such as government shutdowns, and rack up legislative accomplishments.</p><p>So in the first year of a GOP-controlled Congress in nearly a decade, how well did Republicans prove they can govern?</p></div></div></div><p>First, there were no government shutdowns or defaults on the national debt.Immediately after the midterm election in 2014, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner promised there wouldn&#39;t be any shutdowns or defaults on their watch. Turns out they made good on that promise this year.</p><p>But Democrats aren&#39;t exactly congratulating them for it. &quot;That&#39;s like saying, &#39;You know, they didn&#39;t blow the top off the Capitol, so clearly Republican leadership is in touch with America.&#39; No, it takes more than that,&quot; said Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois.</p><p>Nonetheless, it is fair to say that the widely held assumption Congress gets nothing done doesn&#39;t exactly fit this year. There was an uptick in bipartisan activity in this Republican-controlled Congress in 2015, but if you ask Democrats why that was, they&#39;ll say it&#39;s because they were a more cooperative minority than Republicans were when Democrats controlled the Senate &mdash; and that they cooperated on legislation that bolstered Democratic goals.</p><p>Whether or not keeping the government open counts as an accomplishment, here are eight legislative matters Congress did address in 2015 &mdash; and some issues that remain unresolved:</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:20px;">Bipartisan Legislative Accomplishments</span></strong></p><p><strong>Trillion-Dollar Government Funding Bill:</strong>&nbsp;Right before they split for the holidays, lawmakers passed a trillion-dollar spending bill that will keep the government open until the end of next September. The measure also beefed up cybersecurity and renewed a health care program for Sept. 11 first responders. It also made changes to the visa waiver program so people who have traveled to Iraq, Iran, Syria and Sudan in the past five years will face greater scrutiny if they wish to enter the U.S.</p><p><strong>Tax Extenders:</strong>&nbsp;Paired with the government spending bill was a measure containing hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks. Year after year, Congress has had to extend dozens of tax breaks that expire. In this measure, lawmakers made permanent the most popular tax breaks, such as the $1,000 child tax credit, the earned income tax credit for low- and moderate-income workers, and the research and development tax credit.</p><p><strong>Two-Year Budget Agreement:&nbsp;</strong>Right before Boehner left office, he managed to reach a two-year budget deal with the White House and other congressional leaders. The agreement suspends the debt ceiling through March 2017 and increases spending by $80 billion over the next two years &mdash; an increase that&#39;s split evenly between defense and domestic programs.</p><p><strong>No Child Left Behind Rewrite:&nbsp;</strong>Congress easily passed legislation to rewrite the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act. Federally mandated math and reading tests will continue, but the new law cedes greater authority to states, rather than the federal government, to figure out how to use the test results in evaluating schools.</p><p><strong>Five-Year Transportation Bill:&nbsp;</strong>Congress passed its first long-term bill in a decade to fund roads, bridges, and mass transit systems. The measure does not raise the gas tax, currently at 18.4 cents per gallon, but found other sources of funding &mdash; such as changing customs fees and dipping into funds from the Federal Reserve.</p><p><strong>Ended The NSA&#39;s Bulk Surveillance Program:</strong>&nbsp;Lawmakers passed the USA Freedom Act, which ended the government&#39;s bulk collection of phone records. Passage of the measure came after Republican senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky forced a two-day shutdown of the bulk collection program.</p><p><strong>Trade Promotion Authority</strong>:&nbsp;Congress approved a measure to give the president expedited authority to enter a trade deal with 11 other Pacific Rim countries. Attention now turns to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which Congress is expected to consider next year &mdash; possibly after the election is over.</p><p><strong>Medicare Reform</strong>:&nbsp;Known as the &quot;Doc Fix&quot; bill, this measure permanently ended automatic Medicare payment cuts to physicians. Under a law from the late 1990s, Medicare payments to doctors would be cut to keep the program&#39;s budget in check. Since then, Congress had failed every year to figure out a long-term solution to the problem.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:20px;">Unresolved Issues</span></strong></p><p>Still, so many issues remain unresolved &mdash; not because lawmakers think they&#39;re unimportant but because partisan divisions on these ideological issues are so deep, they can&#39;t find common ground. Congress seems happy to take these issues to the voters in 2016.</p><p><strong>Guns</strong>:&nbsp;After a spate of gun-related tragedies in 2015, Democrats vowed to push for gun control legislation, such as measures to expand background checks and prohibit individuals whose names are on terrorist watch lists from purchasing firearms. Both measures failed in the Senate in 2015, as in past years.</p><p><strong>Immigration</strong>:&nbsp;The Senate managed to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul package in 2013, but attempts to move the legislation through the House failed. Efforts to resurrect immigration legislation have since languished.</p><p><strong>Tax Reform:&nbsp;</strong>After the midterm election, corporate tax reform was seen as a possible area Republicans and Democrats could work together on. But at his year-end news conference, McConnell expressed pessimism about getting any tax reform accomplished with a Democrat in the White House, saying that any tax changes need to be revenue-neutral and he doubted the president would go for that.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/30/461388614/8-things-congress-actually-did-this-year?ft=nprml&amp;f=461388614"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 31 Dec 2015 10:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/eight-things-congress-actually-did-year-114330 Here's Where Gun Laws Stand in Your State http://www.wbez.org/news/heres-where-gun-laws-stand-your-state-114107 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gunlaws.JPG" alt="" /><p><div id="res458927298" previewtitle="How easily can you buy a gun in your state? And what can you do with it? Check out our maps to find out."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="How easily can you buy a gun in your state? And what can you do with it? Check out our maps to find out." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/08/gettyimages-166337447-185c5be3b3342b493e813bd861fb432f5b2016de-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="How easily can you buy a gun in your state? And what can you do with it? Check out our maps to find out. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>The word &quot;doomed&quot; has become a&nbsp;<a href="http://theweek.com/articles/465432/gun-control-what-doomed-senates-background-check-bill">common</a>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2015/06/charleston-and-public-policy">adjective</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.minnpost.com/dc-dispatches/2015/10/senate-democrats-gun-control-push-doomed-start-so-why-bother">to describe</a>&nbsp;gun-control efforts. Mass shootings like those at Sandy Hook or Fort Hood looked like they might provide the political fuel to tighten laws, but gun-control advocates have found their efforts perpetually frustrated.</p></div></div></div><p>Gun control laws have stalled at the federal level, which is likely part of why President Obama has advocated for state and local governments to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/01/457920110/after-planned-parenthood-shooting-obama-again-calls-for-action-on-guns/">take action</a>&nbsp;in the wake of recent shootings.</p><p>The strictness of gun laws varies widely from state to state. We&#39;ve put together state-by-state maps of laws on some of the most important gun laws. Check out what nine different types of gun-safety measures look like in your state, via&nbsp;<a href="http://smartgunlaws.org/waiting-periods-policy-summary/">data</a>&nbsp;<a href="http://smartgunlaws.org/universal-gun-background-checks-policy-summary/">from</a>&nbsp;<a href="http://smartgunlaws.org/registration-of-firearms-policy-summary/">the</a>&nbsp;<a href="http://smartgunlaws.org/concealed-weapons-permitting-policy-summary/">Law</a><a href="http://smartgunlaws.org/open-carrying-policy-summary/#state">Center</a>&nbsp;to&nbsp;<a href="http://smartgunlaws.org/domestic-violence-firearms-policy-summary">Prevent</a>&nbsp;<a href="http://smartgunlaws.org/assault-weapons-policy-summary/">Gun</a>&nbsp;<a href="http://smartgunlaws.org/licensing-of-gun-owners-purchasers-policy-summary/">Violence</a>:</p><div id="res458829569"><div id="responsive-embed-gun-laws-20151203"><iframe frameborder="0" height="2273px" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/gun-laws-20151203/child.html?initialWidth=774&amp;childId=responsive-embed-gun-laws-20151203" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;" width="620"></iframe></div></div><p>The question of state laws&#39; effectiveness has become a central part of the national conversation since the San Bernardino shootings. California has the&nbsp;<a href="http://gunlawscorecard.org/">toughest gun laws in the nation</a>, according to the gun-control advocacy group the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. (You might notice that California is colored in on all of these maps). And, of course, as the&nbsp;<a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/78b6c20a1d1f4e2facbc761d36852bfe/californias-strict-gun-laws-failed-stop-mass-shooting">AP pointed out</a>, those tough gun laws &quot;failed to stop [a] mass shooting.&quot;</p><p>Gun-rights advocates believe this shooting, as well as others in Oregon and Washington, are evidence that stricter gun laws aren&#39;t necessary. Many of the proposed gun-control policies from President Obama and presidential candidates since San Bernardino wouldn&#39;t have stopped this particular attack, as the&nbsp;Washington Post&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/12/07/no-ones-proposed-solution-to-the-san-bernardino-shooting-would-have-prevented-it/">Philip Bump writes</a>.</p><p>But gun-control advocates point beyond isolated incidents to broader trends, like the fact that states with the most gun laws also tend to have the fewest gun deaths (a statistic that includes not only homicides and accidents but also America&#39;s many gun suicides).</p><p>And to the degree that stricter gun laws keep gun ownership levels down, it could mean less violent crime.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1359178913000797">Several</a>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17070975">studies</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/Abstract.aspx?id=206421">have</a>&nbsp;<a href="http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1814426">shown</a>&nbsp;a link between firearm ownership rates and the risk of being a homicide victim. In a 2015 study, for example,&nbsp;<a href="http://crimeresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Firearm-Ownership-and-Violent-Crime.pdf">researchers at Harvard University</a>&nbsp;found that higher levels of firearm ownership were associated with higher levels of firearm assault, firearm robbery and firearm homicide &mdash; when controlling for demographic factors like age and race.</p><p>That study, and many others like it, shows a link between gun ownership and crime or deaths, and therefore supports the hypothesis that more guns mean more gun-related crime and death, though it does not establish causality.</p><p>Though efforts to pass more gun-control legislation have stalled at the federal level in the past few years, some Americans will vote on it at the state level next year. In 2016, measures requiring universal background checks (that is, checks for private and gun-show purchases) will be on the ballot in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.kolotv.com/home/headlines/Nevada-Background-Check-Petition-284949061.html">Nevada</a>, and gun control advocates are hoping to vote on it in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.centralmaine.com/2015/12/06/better-background-checks-will-help-maine-avoid-gun-violence/">Maine</a>, as well.</p></p> Wed, 09 Dec 2015 10:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/heres-where-gun-laws-stand-your-state-114107 Rejecting Appeal On Assault Ban, Supreme Court Again Stays Out Of Gun Policy http://www.wbez.org/news/rejecting-appeal-assault-ban-supreme-court-again-stays-out-gun-policy-114077 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ap_210510367995_wide-eb1bfccb2754671092487a65eaea8bd092bcb0b6-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res458818130" previewtitle="Chicago suburb Highland Park banned the possession of what it called assault weapons, including AR-15s, like this one, and AK-47s, as well as large capacity magazines. Gun rights advocates challenged the ban, contending that it violated the Second Amendment's guarantee of a right to bear arms."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Chicago suburb Highland Park banned the possession of what it called assault weapons, including AR-15s, like this one, and AK-47s, as well as large capacity magazines. Gun rights advocates challenged the ban, contending that it violated the Second Amendment's guarantee of a right to bear arms." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/07/ap_210510367995_wide-eb1bfccb2754671092487a65eaea8bd092bcb0b6-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago suburb Highland Park banned the possession of what it called assault weapons, including AR-15s, like this one, and AK-47s, as well as large capacity magazines. Gun rights advocates challenged the ban, contending that it violated the Second Amendment's guarantee of a right to bear arms. (Charles Krupa/AP)" /></div><div><div><p>The U.S. Supreme Court has<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/justices-reject-challenge-local-assault-weapons-ban-114074" target="_blank"> rejected an appeal from gun owners</a> who challenged a ban on semi-automatic assault rifles and large-capacity ammunition magazines.</p></div></div></div><p>Two justices &mdash; Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia &mdash; would have heard the case and struck down the ban.</p><p>In deciding not to revisit the issue in the Highland Park case, the justices followed a pattern. Since declaring an individual right to bear arms, the court has largely stayed out of the gun control question altogether, refusing the pleas of gun rights advocates, in addition to many states that have urged the court to rule again and expand the right to gun ownership.</p><p>Monday&#39;s action leaves in place a decision issued by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a local ordinance enacted in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park. In 2013 the town enacted a statute banning the possession of what it called assault weapons, including AR-15s, and AK-47s, and it banned large capacity magazines that can accept more than 10 rounds.</p><p>Gun rights advocates promptly challenged the ban, contending that it violated the Second Amendment&#39;s guarantee of a right to bear arms. In 2008 the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment protects the right to own a gun for self defense in the home. But the 5-4 decision appeared to leave government at all levels wide latitude to regulate gun ownership and possession.</p><p>Since then, many state and local governments have enacted new and stricter gun laws in the face of mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, in Aurora, Colo., and elsewhere. And at the same time, gun rights advocates have challenged these and other gun control laws, claiming these statutes are unconstitutional.</p><p>In the Highland Park case, the justices debated for months whether to review the lower court decision upholding the law. The fact that it took so long suggests either that Justices Thomas and Scalia were trying to persuade some of their colleagues to hear the case, and failed, or that neither side of the closely divided court was sure it had to votes to prevail.</p><p>Justice Thomas, writing for himself and Justice Scalia in dissent, said that there is nothing unusual about the guns banned by the Highland Park ordinance; calling them assault weapons, he said, is nothing more than &quot;anti-gun propaganda.&quot; Allowing this and other similar laws to stand, he said, &quot;flouts&quot; the court&#39;s previous rulings on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.</p></p> Mon, 07 Dec 2015 14:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rejecting-appeal-assault-ban-supreme-court-again-stays-out-gun-policy-114077 Justices Reject Challenge to Local Assault Weapons Ban http://www.wbez.org/news/justices-reject-challenge-local-assault-weapons-ban-114074 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_180037893168.jpg" style="height: 205px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title=" In this Jan. 16, 2013 file photo, assault weapons and handguns are seen for sale at Capitol City Arms Supply in Springfield, Ill. In a questionnaire for The Associated Press, the four GOP candidates for governor, state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford and businessman Bruce Rauner disagree on whether assault-style weapons should be banned. They also disagree on whether to support a measure creating minimum prison sentences for gun crimes. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)" /></p><p>WASHINGTON (AP) &mdash; Acting in the aftermath of the San Bernardino mass shooting, the Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from gun owners who challenged aChicago&nbsp;suburb&#39;s ban on assault weapons.</p><p>Two conservative justices said they would have heard the case and struck down the ban. The Illinois State Rifle Association, one of the plaintiffs, indicated that it would keep challenging local gun restrictions.</p><p>The court, though, left in place a lower court ruling that found that local governments have leeway in deciding how to regulate firearms. The federal appeals court inChicago&nbsp;had upheld the city of Highland Park&#39;s 2013 law that bans semi-automatic weapons and large-capacity magazines.</p><p>In October, the federal appeals court in New York largely upheld similar laws in Connecticut and New York, among a handful of states that ban semi-automatic weapons.</p><p>The Supreme Court has repeatedly turned away challenges to gun restrictions since two landmark decisions that spelled out the right to a handgun to defend one&#39;s own home.</p><p>Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, said the&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;appeals court ruling &quot;flouts two of our Second Amendment precedents.&quot; Without mentioning any mass shootings in California and elsewhere that involved semi-automatic guns, Thomas said the weapons ban &quot;is highly suspect because it broadly prohibits common semi-automatic firearms used for lawful purposes&quot; by roughly 5 million Americans.</p><p>&quot;The overwhelming majority of citizens who own and use such rifles do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense and target shooting,&quot; Thomas wrote.</p><p>The case had been under consideration at the high court for two months, but the delay in dealing with it now appears mainly due to waiting for Thomas to finish his opinion.</p><p>The appeal filed by Dr. Arie Friedman and the Illinois State Rifle Association argues that Highland Park has violated their constitutional rights by banning some of the most popular semi-automatic guns in the United States, as well as ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds.</p><p>Richard Pearson, the director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, was disappointed the Supreme Court did not hear the case but said his organization is still waiting for the conclusion of a state-court case challenging a similar ban in Illinois&#39; largest county, Cook County. He said the group will also keep looking for new plaintiffs in areas that have enacted assault-weapons prohibitions.</p><p>&quot;We are not going to give up and we&#39;re not going to go away,&quot; Pearson said.</p><p>Steven Elrod, an attorney who has represented Highland Park, did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press.</p><p>Even though lower courts have mainly upheld gun restrictions, the Highland Park case arises out of a decision by the federal appeals court in&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;that struck down the only statewide ban on carrying concealed weapons, in Illinois.</p><p>In 2013, when state lawmakers reacted to the court ruling by making it legal to carry a gun, they gave cities around the state 10 days to come up with local restrictions on assault weapons, or forfeit their right to do so.</p><p>Highland Park was one of fewer than 20 municipalities, all in the&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;area, to enact regulations or bans, according to the rifle association.</p><p>The city&#39;s assault weapons ban was upheld by the appeals court in a 2-1 decision.</p><p>Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for the court that there is a &quot;substantial benefit&quot; to the Highland Park ordinance if it makes the public feel less at risk from a mass shooting. Variations of the Bushmaster AR-15, one of the guns specifically banned by Highland Park, were used in the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre and the theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado.</p><p>The gun control laws that the appeals court in New York upheld in October were passed after the 2012 massacre in Newtown.</p><p>Seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning assault weapons. The others are California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In addition, Minnesota and Virginia regulate assault weapons, the center said.</p><p>The case is<a href="http://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/120715zor_6j37.pdf" target="_blank"> Friedman v. Highland, 15-133</a>.</p><p><em>Associated Press reporter David Mercer in Champaign, Illinois, contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Mon, 07 Dec 2015 13:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/justices-reject-challenge-local-assault-weapons-ban-114074 A Tally Of Mass Shootings In The U.S. http://www.wbez.org/news/tally-mass-shootings-us-114040 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/162794264_custom-3b62828a10c18845096110a38494b3a089a8aad6-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res458325480" previewtitle="Pictures of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims are displayed as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) speaks during at a 2013 Senate hearing. Wednesday's shooting in San Bernardino, which killed at least 14 people, was the deadliest since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook, which left 26 people dead."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Pictures of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims are displayed as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) speaks during at a 2013 Senate hearing. Wednesday's shooting in San Bernardino, which killed at least 14 people, was the deadliest since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook, which left 26 people dead." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/03/162794264_custom-3b62828a10c18845096110a38494b3a089a8aad6-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 411px; width: 620px;" title="Pictures of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims are displayed as Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California speaks during at a 2013 Senate hearing. Wednesday's shooting in San Bernardino, which killed at least 14 people, was the deadliest since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook, which left 26 people dead. (Jewel Samad /AFP/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>The shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., was the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/12/02/the-san-bernardino-mass-shooting-is-the-second-today-and-the-355th-this-year/">355th&nbsp;mass shooting</a>&nbsp;in the U.S. this year &mdash; or more than one per day on average so far in 2015 &mdash; according to groups monitoring such attacks in recent years.</p></div></div></div><p>The San Bernardino case, where at least 14 people were killed, wasn&#39;t the only mass shooting on Wednesday. A 34-year-old woman was killed and three males, ages 17 to 52, were injured by gunfire&nbsp;<a href="http://scmpd.org/metro-investigates-fatal-w-33rd-street-shooting/">in Savannah, Ga.,</a>&nbsp;earlier in the day. Police believe at least two shooters were involved in that incident, but no arrests had yet been made.</p><p>One common definition of a mass shooting is when four or more people are killed or injured (and that&#39;s what we&#39;re using for the purposes of this article). Here are some key figures compiled by groups such as&nbsp;<a href="http://www.shootingtracker.com/">ShootingTracker.com</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/past-tolls">Gun Violence Archive&nbsp;</a>and&nbsp;<a href="http://everytownresearch.org/reports/mass-shootings-analysis/">Everytown for Gun Safety</a>.</p><p><strong>462:&nbsp;</strong>The number of people&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/03/us/how-often-do-mass-shootings-occur-on-average-every-day-records-show.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=b-lede-package-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">killed so far this year</a>&nbsp;in mass shootings. The injury toll is 1,314. The shootings have taken place in 47 separate states.</p><p><strong>3 Years:</strong>&nbsp;The San Bernardino shooting is the deadliest since the 2012 massacre at<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/after-newtown-shooting-mourning-parents-enter-into-the-lonely-quiet/2013/06/08/0235a882-cd32-11e2-9f1a-1a7cdee20287_story.html">Sandy Hook Elementary School</a>&nbsp;in Newtown, Conn., which claimed the lives of 20 students and six adults.</p><p><strong>281:</strong>&nbsp;The number of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/past-tolls">mass shootings</a>&nbsp;last year.&nbsp;<a href="https://newrepublic.com/article/123027/heres-why-no-one-can-agree-number-mass-shootings">There&#39;s debate</a>&nbsp;on how rapidly the rate of such attacks has been rising because the numbers can look very different depending on the standard that&#39;s being used.</p><p>The definition of four or more killed or injured has been used only in recent years by private research groups, which rely on media reports. The&nbsp;<a href="http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44126.pdf">Congressional Research Service</a>&nbsp;tracks shooting cases in which four or more people are killed and, by that standard, the annual figure has tended to range only slightly, from about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/03/us/how-often-do-mass-shootings-occur-on-average-every-day-records-show.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=b-lede-package-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0">20 to 22 cases</a>&nbsp;per year from 1999 to 2013. Some observers say this shows that the number of mass shootings has been a chronic problem for many years, and that the only real change is the amount of media attention they receive.</p><p><strong>57:&nbsp;</strong>The percent of cases in which a current or former partner or family member was among the victims. Women account for 50 percent of the victims in mass shootings, compared with only 15 percent of overall gun homicides, according to&nbsp;<a href="http://everytownresearch.org/reports/mass-shootings-analysis/">Everytown for Gun Safety</a>, based on media reports from 2009 through July.</p><p><strong>2 out of 160:</strong>&nbsp;The number of mass shootings that involved more than one gunman, according to an&nbsp;<a href="https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2014/september/fbi-releases-study-on-active-shooter-incidents/pdfs/a-study-of-active-shooter-incidents-in-the-u.s.-between-2000-and-2013">FBI report</a>&nbsp;released last year, covering the period from 2000 to 2013.</p><p><strong>Around 11,000:</strong>&nbsp;Roughly the annual number of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm" target="_blank">gun-related homicides</a>&nbsp;in the U.S. The figure has been declining gradually over the past two decades. The vast majority of gun deaths are not mass shootings, which account for well under 5 percent of all shooting deaths.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/03/458321777/a-tally-of-mass-shootings-in-the-u-s?ft=nprml&amp;f=458321777" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 03 Dec 2015 14:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/tally-mass-shootings-us-114040 Chicago gun violence high despite tough city laws http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-gun-violence-high-despite-tough-city-laws-113726 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1110_chicago-vigil-624x417.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The death of a 9-year-old child, allegedly at the hands of Chicago gang members, has shocked the country and prompted many to call for tougher gun laws. But gun supporters say Chicago<a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2015-10-09/superintendent-garry-mccarthy-discusses-strategies-curb" target="_blank"> already has tough laws</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Mourners arrive to St. Sabina Catholic Church for funeral of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee. Chicago Mayor Emanuel here. <a href="https://t.co/vJcK96TaLL">pic.twitter.com/vJcK96TaLL</a></p>&mdash; Michael Puente (@MikePuenteNews) <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews/status/664124283401187330">November 10, 2015</a></blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/11/10/chicago-gun-violence-laws" target="_blank">Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s</a> Robin Young talks with a researcher and a Chicago journalist about where guns used in illegal activities come from, and how laws in surrounding communities may affect the availability of guns on Chicago streets.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a href="http://http://www.wbez.org/news/justice-tyshawn-mother-pleads-her-south-side-community-113645" target="_blank">RELATED:&nbsp;<font face="inherit"><span style="line-height: inherit; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit;">Justice for Tyshawn: Police launch &lsquo;Operation Wake-Up&rsquo;</span></font></a></strong></p></p> Tue, 10 Nov 2015 13:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-gun-violence-high-despite-tough-city-laws-113726 An Evangelical Leader's Changing Views on Gun Ownership http://www.wbez.org/news/evangelical-leaders-changing-views-gun-ownership-113323 <p><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gettyimages-51950226_wide-88d6581ed15f2822f5d11812d9db2d554727497c-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="The Rev. Rob Schenck, of the National Clergy Council, right, and the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, pray in front of the J. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C., in 2005. Schenck is a pro-life activist who believes gun ownership and the use of guns is a decision best decided by community leaders, not the government. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)" /></div><div>As the debate over gun ownership and gun control is renewed following the shooting deaths of nine people, including the gunman, at an Oregon community college&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/01/445034424/active-shooter-reported-at-oregon-community-college">earlier this month</a>, there&#39;s the voice of an evangelical leader whose views might be different from what some would expect.</div><div>arm</div><div>The Rev. Rob Schenck, president of Faith and Action, is an anti-abortion activist who believes gun ownership and the use of guns is a decision best decided by community leaders, and not the government.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Schenck is the subject of a soon-to-be-released documentary,<a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/filmmaker-talks-about-her-documentary-the-armor-of-light" target="_blank">&nbsp;The Armor of Light</a>,&nbsp;which focuses on his changing stance on gun ownership. Those views were affected by the 2013 shooting at the D.C. Navy Yard,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/10/05/how-one-evangelical-activist-changed-his-mind-on-gun-violence/" target="_blank">according to The Washington Post</a>:</div><blockquote><p><em>&quot;For years, Rev. Rob Schenck led nonviolent protests as an anti-abortion activist, focusing on abortion as the primary &#39;sanctity of human life&#39; issue.&nbsp;</em><em>But everything changed after the 2013 D.C. Navy Yard shooting that left 13 people dead. A new documentary called &quot;The Armor of Light&quot; tracks Schenck as he decided that one cannot be both &#39;pro-life and also &#39;pro-guns.&#39;</em></p><p><em>&quot; &#39;I&#39;ll be very candid, I haven&#39;t felt that it&#39;s our issue, until we end up kneeling in prayer, outside the Navy Yard gates in my neighborhood where my apartment building was in lockdown,&#39; he says in the film that will be released on Oct. 30. &#39;So suddenly it goes from theoretical to very realistic.&#39; &quot;</em></p></blockquote><p>Schenck spoke with NPR&#39;s Scott Simon about his views and how they coalesce with his anti-abortion stance.</p><p>&quot;When you talk about aiming a weapon at another human being, no matter what the circumstances are, that&#39;s a question of paramount moral and ethical dimensions, so it&#39;s something that we should take very seriously, and I don&#39;t know that a lot of us are,&quot; he says.</p><div><hr /></div><p><strong><span style="font-size:18px;">Interview Highlights</span></strong></p><p><strong>On his calls for gun control on a personal level rather than a legal level</strong></p><p>Ultimately, we&#39;ll all make the decision what we will do, whether we&#39;ll own a lethal weapon and use it or not. We&#39;ve had a long discussion in this country &mdash; decades-long &mdash; on gun control, that is government gun control. For me, this is a question of self-control regardless of what the law may allow me to do. I appeal to a higher law. ... I&#39;ve said publicly, that in our respecting of the Second Amendment, we have to be very careful we don&#39;t break the second commandment, which is the commandment against idolatry. We can set up our own idolatry when we declare ourselves the arbiters of right and wrong, and especially, of the value of a human life.</p><p><strong>On how his views on guns relate to his views on abortion</strong></p><p>I&#39;ve been a pro-life advocate for 30 years. I see life as having value from the moment of conception, but there&#39;s a whole lot of life after conception. It&#39;s a pro-life question, and it&#39;s a deeply moral question, and it&#39;s, even for me, it&#39;s a theological question.<br /><br /><strong>On whether or not he owns a gun and why</strong></p><p>I do not ... on principle; I&#39;ve made the decision not to own a weapon. There&#39;s a lot of reasons for that. One is, I think it does create an ethical crisis for a Christian. Secondly, I don&#39;t necessarily trust myself, and maybe more of us would be better off to question what we will do in the heat of anger, fear, or God forbid, depression. My own family has a history of gun suicide due to depression. I know depression runs in families, and I don&#39;t want to take that risk.</p><div id="con447370085" previewtitle="Related NPR Stories"><p>I understand that impulse, and I respect it. I don&#39;t impugn people&#39;s motives on that. I think an awful lot of those people are sincere, and that&#39;s a noble inclination that we have. Now whether the handgun &mdash; a lethal weapon &mdash; is the best way to manage that security for yourself and your family is another question. Sometimes, a handgun can be a shortcut in the equation.</p></div><p><strong>On whether religious and ethical leaders can come to an agreement on gun ownership that politicians have missed</strong></p><p>Yes, I do. First of all, I don&#39;t want to sound too cynical, but I think politicians are, on the whole, eminently disqualified from really giving us good guidance on this question ... they&#39;re in the business of politics. That means winning elections. They&#39;re going to do what&#39;s in their best electoral interests on the question.</p><p>I hope that religious leaders are, for the most part, in a pursuit of the truth. So I&#39;ve decided I&#39;m going to shift to where my people are most comfortable, and that&#39;s the law of the heart, and of the mind, and of the conscious. And after that, I think we can probably get to some consensus on policy and legislation.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/10/447250761/an-evangelical-leaders-changing-views-on-gun-ownership?ft=nprml&amp;f=447250761" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 13 Oct 2015 16:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/evangelical-leaders-changing-views-gun-ownership-113323 Texas prof: I'm quitting now that state lets kids carry guns to class http://www.wbez.org/programs/takeaway/2015-10-12/texas-prof-im-quitting-now-state-lets-kids-carry-guns-class-113302 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_821697735255.jpg" style="height: 385px; width: 610px;" title="In this Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, file photo, professor Ann Cvetkovich waits to speak during a public forum as a special committee studies how to implement a new law allowing students with concealed weapons permits to carry firearms into class and other campus buildings, which will take effect in August 2016, in Austin, Texas. Despite a federal law requiring them to have detailed emergency plans, colleges across the country vary widely in how they prepare for campus shootings and inform their staffs and students. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Daniel Hamermesh is an economics professor emeritus who has taught at the University of Texas at Austin&nbsp;since 1993. This week, he&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dailytexanonline.com/2015/10/07/citing-concerns-with-campus-carry-professor-emeritus-to-withdraw" target="_blank">announced</a>&nbsp;that he would withdraw from his position next fall after the state passed a &ldquo;campus carry&rdquo; law, which will allow concealed handguns in classrooms, dorms, and other campus buildings.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to bear the increased risk of facing a student in my office that gets disgruntled and pulls a gun out on me,&rdquo; he says.</p><p dir="ltr">Hamermesh, 72, says he will pursue teaching and academic opportunities at other institutions because his fear of being the target of on-campus gun violence has been &ldquo;enhanced&rdquo; with the new law, which goes&nbsp;<a href="http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=84R&amp;Bill=SB11" target="_blank">into effect in August 2016</a>&nbsp;&mdash; the 50th anniversary of a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/an-ex-marine-goes-on-a-killing-spree-at-the-university-of-texas" target="_blank">mass shooting at UT Austin</a>&nbsp;that left 14 dead and 31 wounded.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I worry about the feeling of tension this would engender because somebody might do something, and you&rsquo;re always going to be on alert,&rdquo; says Hamermesh. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t need to put up with that. Life is short, I don&rsquo;t need the money that much, so I&rsquo;d rather do other things.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">UT Austin currently educates about 51,000 students and boasts a teaching staff of about 3,000. Hamermesh says that the campus carry policy may deter both groups from pursuing educational and academic opportunities at the school, which was founded in 1881.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Why take even a slight risk with an opportunity at UT when you can go elsewhere?&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s going to cost the university.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_907794901423.jpg" style="height: 417px; width: 600px;" title="Professor Ann Cvetkovich speaks during a public forum as a special committee studies how to implement a new law allowing students with concealed weapons permits to carry firearms into class and other campus buildings, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Austin, Texas. The law takes effect in August 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Hamermesh isn&rsquo;t the only member of the University of Texas college system that is against this law. UT Chancellor Bill McRaven, a former Navy admiral, spoke out against the law before it was adopted last spring. And the president of UT Austin, Gregory L. Fenves, is also against the measure.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Right now, the [UT Austin] president is holding a bunch of forums and has a committee designed to decide what they can limit in terms of the places where you can&rsquo;t carry guns,&rdquo; says Hamermesh. &ldquo;But a general limit saying no guns in offices, I don&rsquo;t think that&rsquo;s going to happen, and similarly, no guns in classes, I don&rsquo;t think that&rsquo;s going to happen. You can&rsquo;t do that politically given what the legislation was passed as. I&rsquo;m sure that President Fenves would like to do more limitations than what is in fact politically feasible.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Faculty members are concerned that the new campus carry law may have an impact on course curriculum and learning environment, says Hamermesh.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;A lot of people, especially in the Humanities department, are terribly concerned &mdash; why express something that might be controversial [and may make] a student really, really upset when there&rsquo;s an increased of having a student pull a gun on you?&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It makes it a less desirable place for learning and it makes it less of a learning environment.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Furthermore, Hamermesh argues that professors should be able to set the terms of their classrooms &mdash; not lawmakers.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It impinges upon my freedom to operate my classroom exactly as I want,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I view my classroom and my office as my castle, and I don&rsquo;t like the legislature telling me what can go on in my castle.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">While some faculty members and students are &ldquo;pro-gun,&rdquo; Hamermesh dismisses those who argue that the campus carry law will empower educators.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to have a gun,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to be involved in shooting at someone who happens to draw first. I&rsquo;m probably too old to draw fast anyway &mdash; my reactions are slow &mdash; and having a gun would just make my life worse in so many ways.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Others in the community have similar feelings. A Takeaway listener named Victoria from Austin called in with this message:</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&#39;m very much against young men having guns on a college campus. The overwhelming perpetrators of gun violence is young men ages 18 to 30. Putting guns in the hands of immature, emotional, stressed out young men is just a bunch of bad decisions waiting to happen.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&mdash; <a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-10-12/texas-prof-im-quitting-now-state-lets-kids-carry-guns-class" target="_blank"><em>via The Takeaway</em></a></p></p> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 16:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/takeaway/2015-10-12/texas-prof-im-quitting-now-state-lets-kids-carry-guns-class-113302