Gun control laws actually work – both ways, unfortunately

In this week’s obvious news, laws that allow people to kill other people with guns have led to more people killing other people with guns. According to two new research papers, stricter firearm laws are associated with fewer firearm homicides, and the implementation of Florida’s stand-your-ground law was associated with increased firearm homicides.

These findings, released today by the JAMA Internal Medicine, may sound obvious. But since Congress has essentially withheld all funding for gun violence research for the last 20 years, large-scale studies of this sort have been few and far between. As The Atlantic reported, “In the mid-1990s, Congress declared that funding at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shouldn’t be used to advocate for gun control, and it effectively blocked funding for the study of gun violence at the agency.” Despite studies showing that gun violence is a threat to human health and safety, the CDC, a federally funded public health agency with a seven billion dollar annual budget, still withholds support from gun research. Perhaps these new findings will bolster the case for federal funding.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for chickenshit Congress-critters to act.

One paper released today, first-authored by Lois K. Lee of Harvard Medical School, examined five types of gun laws: “those that (1) curb gun trafficking, (2) strengthen background checks, (3) improve child safety, (4) ban military-style assault weapons, and (5) restrict firearms in public places and leniency in firearm carrying.” The researchers found strong evidence that laws strengthening background checks and purchase permits helped decrease gun homicide rates. Interestingly, the researchers did not find strong evidence that laws focusing on trafficking, child safety and assault weapons decreased firearm homicides. The evidence for the effects of laws regarding guns in public places was not conclusive either way. On the whole, though, they found that, “stronger gun policies were associated with decreased rates of firearm homicide, even after adjusting for demographic and sociologic factors.”

Another paper released today, also in JAMA Internal Medicine, tracked the effects of Florida’s stand-your-ground law since its implementation in 2005. This law allows a person to use deadly force instead of retreating from what they believe to be a life-threatening encounter. To conduct this research, David K. Humphreys of University of Oxford and his colleagues examined gun death data for the years leading up to 2005 and the years after, then compared them to other states’ data for the same years. They found that gun homicides increased in the years following 2005, while prior to 2005 they had remained relatively stable. The comparison states (New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia) which don’t have stand-your-ground laws, did not have similar increases, strengthening the evidence that this is a Florida trend associated with stand-your-ground laws, not part of a national trend…

Informed discussion requires sound data. When public bodies, from the Republican Party and Blue Dog Democrats to the NRA oppose the collection of any data at all they only illuminate their cowardice, their fear of law and public practice reflecting conclusions about best practices. Ideology trumps evidence quite easily when evidence collection is forbidden.

House Democrats sit-in against Republican pimps for the NRA

house dems sit-in

Rebellious Democrats shut down the House’s legislative work on Wednesday, staging a sit-in on the House floor and refusing to leave until they secured a vote on gun control measures before lawmakers’ weeklong break.

Exasperated Republicans were forced to recess while cutting off cameras that showed the protest. But in an unprecedented step, C-SPAN used live video feeds from one lawmaker’s Periscope account and another’s Facebook page to transmit words and images from the House chamber.

More than 200 Democrats led by Georgia Rep. John Lewis demanded a vote on measures to expand background checks and block gun purchases by some suspected terrorists in the aftermath of last week’s massacre in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people in a gay nightclub.

“No bill, no break,” shouted Democrats, who demanded that Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., keep the House in session through its planned break next week to vote on gun legislation.

Democrats accused Republicans of political cowardice by failing to schedule a vote.

“Are they more afraid than the children at Sandy Hook?” asked Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., referring to the 2012 shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 elementary school children, in Newtown, Connecticut. “What is so scary about having a vote?”…

❝ Paul Ryan said blah, blah, blah.

Even though Republican pimps for the NRA are assured of funding and wardheeler support, they know the overwhelming majority of Americans – whether they belong to one of the two old parties or not – support modern legislation on weapons of war on our streets, background checks, up-to-date record-keeping. If they’re forced to record a vote, their constituents will literally have a chance to see their cowardice.

C-SPAN, a cable and satellite network that provides continual coverage of House and Senate floor proceedings, does not control the cameras. They’re run on authorization by legislative leaders.

Although the cameras were turned off Wednesday, lawmakers relied on social media to transmit video, using Facebook, Twitter and Periscope. C-SPAN broadcast live video streamed on Periscope and Facebook from lawmakers’ accounts. Democrats posted the Capitol’s main telephone number, which was overwhelmed, and urged constituents to call and request a vote. They also encouraged tweeting under the hashtag #NoBillNoBreak.

Joining the protest were more than a dozen Democratic senators, including Minority Leader Harry Reid, and Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who had waged a nearly 15-hour filibuster last week to force votes in the Senate on gun legislation.

National Rifle Association — Follow the money because that’s all they really care about

The National Rifle Association goes to great lengths (and spends a huge sum of money) to defend the right to bear arms. It is opposed to virtually every form of gun regulation, including restrictions on owning assault weapons, retention of databases of gun purchases, background checks on purchasers at gun shows and changes in the registration of firearms.

The NRA’s influence is felt not only through campaign contributions, but through millions of dollars in off-the-books spending on issue ads. Lobbying expenditures for the National Rifle Association regularly exceed $1.5 million, as the organization’s lobbyists frequently try to exert their influence over government agencies including members of Congress, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Profile for 2014 Election Cycle

CONTRIBUTIONS
$974,152
ranks 239 of 12,337

LOBBYING
$3,360,000 (2014)
$3,410,000 (2013)
ranks 149 of 2,871 in 2014

OUTSIDE SPENDING
$27,024,618
ranks 10 of 138

RTFA for lots of links to details of the how and where these pricks get their money and spend their money.

Thanks, Papa Tom