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Foley writes: "The 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which a mentally troubled young man killed 26 children and educators, served as a rallying cry for gun-control advocates across the nation. But in the three years since, many states have moved in the opposite direction."

Children being evacuated from Sandy Hook Elementary. (photo: Shannon Hicks/Newton Bee)
Children being evacuated from Sandy Hook Elementary. (photo: Shannon Hicks/Newton Bee)

States Expanded Gun Rights After Sandy Hook Massacre

By Ryan Foley, Associated Press

13 December 15


he 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which a mentally troubled young man killed 26 children and educators, served as a rallying cry for gun-control advocates across the nation.

But in the three years since, many states have moved in the opposite direction, embracing the National Rifle Association's axiom that more "good guys with guns" are needed to deter mass shootings.

In Kansas, gun owners can now carry concealed weapons without obtaining a license. In Texas, those with permits will soon be able to carry openly in holsters and bring concealed weapons into some college classrooms. And in Arkansas, gun enthusiasts may be able to carry weapons into polling places next year when they vote for president.

Dozens of new state laws have made it easier to obtain guns and carry them in more public places and made it harder for local governments to enact restrictions, according to a review of state legislation by The Associated Press. The number of guns manufactured and sold and the number of permits to carry concealed weapons have also increased, data show.

The trend has been discouraging to some gun-control advocates, even as other states have adopted stricter background checks. Other gun-control supporters say their movement is emboldened by the recent rise of Everytown for Gun Safety, a well-funded group backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that is becoming influential in some state capitols.

The debate over gun rights moved to states after Congress rejected a bill in 2013 that would have expanded background checks to all gun sales, including those at gun shows and over the Internet. The arguments are expected to intensify next year as legislatures convene in the wake of the mass shooting of county government employees in San Bernardino, California, which is being investigated as an act of terrorism.

Recent mass shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, a community college in Oregon and a church in South Carolina have also reignited passions on both sides.

"Most of our churches are just wide open," said Mississippi Republican Rep. Andy Gipson, who plans to file a bill next year allowing congregations to designate people who could carry guns.

The pro-gun legislation reflects a growing public sentiment that "gun-free zones are magnets for bad guys," said David Kopel, a gun policy expert at the Independence Institute, a libertarian think tank in Colorado. He said that concept was not popular after the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, but the frequency of mass shootings since then has made the idea of having a trained, law-abiding gun owner present more appealing.

"We've gone from, 'You can't even say that out loud' to it being an evenly divided issue, with the pro-gun side having an advantage on that," he said. "I would expect that we will see continued movement on that in the coming year."

Even before the Dec. 2 shooting at the office holiday party in San Bernardino, gun purchases and permit applications were on the rise.

On the day after Thanksgiving this year, U.S. gun sales approached a single-day record. More than 185,000 federal background checks were initiated, the most in the 17-year history of the program, according to FBI data.

"Everybody is swamped," said Mike Conway, a salesman at Bullseye Sport in Riverside, California, near San Bernadino, which has run out of most guns. "A lot of first-time buyers. A lot of people that realize that they have to be responsible for their own safety."

From 2007 to 2014, the number of concealed-carry handgun permits in states nearly tripled, from 4.7 million to 12.8 million, according to a recent report by the Crime Prevention Research Center, a group whose research is often cited by gun-rights supporters. Meanwhile, several states have passed laws shielding the identities of permit holders to protect privacy and prevent potential harassment.

Instead of limiting access to firearms after Sandy Hook, states such as Indiana and Mississippi passed laws to beef up the presence of police officers in schools. Kansas adopted a law allowing people to carry concealed weapons in many public buildings. Georgia and Arkansas, among others, allowed concealed weapons in bars and some churches. Tennessee made clear that permit holders can carry concealed weapons in vehicles and parks.

Several states also passed reciprocity agreements recognizing gun permits approved by other states, reduced permitting fees and loosened requirements. Wisconsin, for instance, eliminated a 48-hour waiting period to buy handguns.

And then there are new laws designed to thwart gun-control measures. States have prohibited authorities from seizing guns during emergencies, moved to ban the use of taxpayer funding for government gun buyback programs and banned the destruction of firearms seized by law enforcement. Some Republican-controlled states have pre-empted local governments' ability to pass stricter firearms laws by declaring that it's a matter for the state.

Everytown President John Feinblatt said many of the measures that expanded gun rights were passed when the NRA faced little opposition in statehouses, but that is starting to change. He said his group succeeded this year in opposing bills in several states that would have allowed concealed weapons on college campuses and permitted people to carry without obtaining permits.

Since Sandy Hook, six states have expanded background checks, and two more such measures are expected to be on statewide ballots next year in Nevada and Maine, Feinblatt said. His group, he added, isn't concerned with how many guns exist, but wants rules in place to make sure they aren't sold or transferred to criminals and the mentally ill.

"If more responsible gun owners want more guns and they are doing it the right way, that's not going to affect public safety," he said.

Eric Fleegler, a doctor at Boston Children's Hospital who has studied state gun laws, said he worries that the expansion of gun rights could cause more fights to escalate into deadly confrontations, more people to commit suicide and more kids to die from gun accidents.

"In a country with 330 million people and 310 million guns," he said, "the suggestion that the problem is we don't have enough guns available just doesn't seem to hold much weight." your social media marketing partner


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-5 # MsAnnaNOLA 2015-12-14 02:01
Sorry but the gun control train has already left the station. We have so many guns in this country all gun control will do is make sure the guns that are already out there are more valuable and only bad guys have guns. France has very strict gun control yet the were victims of gun violence. We have a constitutional right to bear arms that shall not be abridged. In my town right now, New Orleans, police response times are in the range of an hour or more for crimes like burglaries, assaults etc. unless you call and say someone is hurt no police are coming you are basically on your own. I would rather be on my own with a gun I know how to use than not. I assure you many of the criminals have guns.
-1 # HowardMH 2015-12-14 12:21
Stupid is as stupid does, and there is obviously a whole lot of stupid out there in these states.
0 # RMDC 2015-12-14 08:42
Every massacre and outrage only makes the gun nuts buy more guns. Just to experience the phenomenon, I went to a massive gun show in central Virginia a few months after Obama took over as president. The anti-Obama sentiment was the main selling vehicle. Vendors had posters of Obama with bull's eyes on them.

It was huge, probably over 10,000. I was not a resident so I could not legally buy anything, but several vendors said we could make a deal in the parking lot. I was just testing to see if they would sell me a gun outside the law. They would.

For very many people, gun ownership has become a classic fetish. It is not rational. It will grow under the most contradictory circumstances.

But it is all America that has a gun fetish. Most American entertainment (movies, TV, video games) feature guns shooting people. Politicians promise that most problems will be solved with a gun. Gun fetishism is what American culture is. It was carefully made that way by the militarists, the weapons makers, and the racist right wing which has always been driven by the belief that white people need to protect themselves from non-whites with gun.

American culture is doomed by the gun. It rose with a gun and it will die by the gun.
-4 # skylinefirepest 2015-12-14 10:17 buy into the liberal line with all your might...but the facts are against you. We have, by government accounts, a gun for every citizen in this great country. And guess what, dude? Violent crime is down by pretty good numbers. There is a wealth of information out there about law abiding gun owners stopping crime...the great majority of the time by only showing a firearm. And finally, a question for you...when you're hiding in the closet peeing yourself, cowering with your wife and kids who you are supposed to be protecting, just who are you waiting for??? Oh, yeah, a man with a gun.
+2 # Dust 2015-12-14 13:20
So the pre-requisite for bravery is owning a gun? Because clearly, if you don't own a gun, you hide in the closet and wet your pants. If you DO have a gun, you can stride across the world in utter omnipotence.
0 # Citizen Mike 2015-12-14 10:03
Why am I not surprised? The Republican mindset has a reverse sense of good-and-evil: they get everything backward. Encouraging vigilantism is inviting trouble, including gun accidents and wrong-identity shootings. This is real life, not a comic book or movie serial.

Can anyone relate to me the details of ten episodes in which an armed citizen prevented any crime? Just ten examples of this actually happening with names, dates and places?
-2 # skylinefirepest 2015-12-14 10:22
Citizen, I can relate several hundred cases to you...but I won't. You won't find them in your anti-gun websites but the information is out there and easily found. I will not, however, do your homework for you...if you really want to know then visit the NRA website or many others. I suspect that you really are too anti-gun to want to inform yourself anyway.
+1 # Citizen Mike 2015-12-14 12:01
SFP, you are full of beans. I am not so much "anti-gun" as you think, I have been to the range and am a fair shot. But I do question why we have become such a trigger-happy culture, why are we so hot to shoot at each other?

Why do you think it is necessary to go about so heavily armed? I do not think it likely to ever find myself in a situation where a short billy in my back pocket is not sufficient leverage for self-defense.

I do support the right to keep a gun in the house, locked up safely in storage, just in case it might someday be needed. If you heard that someone was out to get you or a riot was brewing. But running around daily in a concealed-carry condition is an invitation to disaster and freelance vigilantism is a generally bad idea.

A loaded gun kept unlocked in the house invites horrible accidents, which often involve children. Concealed carry as a daily habit cultivates a bully's attitude and invites a moment of self-indulgent rage which you will regret.
0 # skylinefirepest 2015-12-17 22:09
Citizen, totally unverified. And I know personally around a hundred CCP dudes and dudettes and they absolutely do not have a bully attitude. And when you need your firearm in a hurry and it's locked and unloaded in your closet, well, I hope you can get to it quicker than the criminal can get to you. When I drove an ambulance in the early sixties I carried a short billy but times have changed so now I carry a short pistol!!
-1 # lfeuille 2015-12-14 18:09
Mother Jones did an article about that early in the year. What they found was that the only cases where an armed citizen had a positive effect of the outcome were when the citizen was an off duty or retired cop or trained security guard. Untrained citizens (that includes people who have had shooting lessons, but no law enforcement training) made things worse and in the worst case scenario, got themselves or innocent bystanders shot.
0 # skylinefirepest 2015-12-17 22:11
Iffy, Mother Jones can do all the articles they can write and they'll still be wrong. Your premise, blathered about by MJ is bullshit. There is a wealth of information to support what I have said. You just have to look beyond MJ to find it.
0 # StuBones1960 2015-12-14 13:03
The mass shooters are people who, up until he moment they started shooting, were "law abiding good guys with guns." The greatest number of gun injuries and deaths are from suicides, accidents, carelessness and moments of passion all courtesy of "law abiding good guys." And as regards the statement that there is a gun for every one of us already in private hands, sure, but most of them are held by guys with a closet full of them.
0 # Citizen Mike 2015-12-14 13:49
You are right, Stu, most gun fatalities are suicides, so that is the "right" the NRA defends, to blow out our own brains. Add all those accidents, mistaken-identi ty shootings and moments of rage or passion: Put them together and and what do you have? Bibbidy-bobbidy -boo?

Most adults are not mature enough to be trusted with firearms, look around and see how many of our neighbors are dingbats who should not be trusted with matches. We should be scared of the guy who keeps a gun by his bed and gets up in the middle of the night in his PJs because he hears a noise. He is going to kill his wife or child or neighbor by mistake and won't really wake up until he hears the discharge and sees the blood.
-1 # lfeuille 2015-12-14 18:16
Geez, gun control won't deprive people of their "right" to commit suicide. There's always pills or hanging. Where there's a will there's a way. The truly determined will find another way,
0 # RMF 2015-12-14 15:29
If violent crime is down, as the gun nuts say, and constantly remind, doesn't that mean that the need for guns as self-protection is reduced, not increased?

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