Wednesday, December 3, 2008

2008 Election Results: NRA is the big loser

The 2008 elections results are in and the National Rifle Association is the big loser. The NRA declared that it intended to spend $40 million on the 2008 elections. Much of this money was specifically targeted toward efforts to defeat Barack Obama. The NRA sent out mailings and ran radio and television ads, warning that Obama would be “the most anti-gun President in American history.” They spent heavily in swing states that, despite their alarms, went decisively for Obama including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

As the New York Times pointed out in their December 1st editorial:

"The gun lobby has long intimidated politicians with its war chest and its trumpeted ability to deliver single-issue voters, especially in tight races. After this year’s election, those politicians should be far less afraid and far more willing to vote for sensible gun-control laws."

The editorial went on to point out:

"In Congressional races, the N.R.A. endorsed candidates in 20 of the 25 races where Democrats picked up seats from Republicans. We will not miss Florida’s Tom Feeney and Ric Keller, Idaho’s Bill Sali, Michigan’s Joe Knollenberg, Ohio’s Steve Chabot, Colorado’s Marilyn Musgrave and Pennsylvania’s Phil English — willing champions of an extreme agenda.
On the Senate side, the N.R.A. spent considerable sums to help Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Bob Schaffer, the Republican Senate candidate in Colorado. Both were defeated."

The NRA also had a very poor showing in New England in both congressional and state house races.

In Massachusetts and Rhode Island every single winning candidate for the U.S. House and Senate received an “F” rating from the NRA. An “F” rating is given to candidates that, according to the NRA, are “true enemies of gun owners’ rights.”

In New Hampshire, “A” rated and NRA endorsed incumbent Republican Senator John Sununu lost to Democratic challenger Jeanne Shaheen. Shaheen is also considered a “true enemy” of the NRA having received an “F” rating. Connecticut appears to be overrun with “true enemies” with 58% of the winning state Senators receiving an “F” rating from the NRA.

In Maine the two seats that the Democrats picked up in the state Senate were both seats where the NRA endorsed the losing Republican incumbent candidate. Five of the seats the Democrats picked up in the state House were also seats where the NRA endorsed the losing incumbent Republican.

The NRA did better in Vermont, endorsing the winning candidates for both Governor and Congress. But even in Vermont, a state where no concealed weapons permit is needed to carry a gun, thirty percent of the winning state house candidates didn’t even bother to return the NRA’s election questionnaire. According to the NRA, failure to answer their questions is “often an indication of indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owner’s rights.” How important can the endorsement of the NRA be when so many candidates didn’t take the trouble to return the questionnaire?

The NRA likes to scare legislators with the myth that they can turn out a significant block of single-issue, pro-gun voters. In the 2008 elections the NRA failed to deliver. And if you look back to the 2006 mid-term elections you will find that the NRA spent 80% of its money on losing candidates. Again, the NRA failed to deliver.

Americans want stronger gun laws. Survey after survey shows this. The majority of Americans believe it is possible to protect an individual’s right to own a gun while at the same time regulating the purchase, possession and carrying of guns. As President-elect Obama has said, “don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.”

The NRA doesn’t want you to look at how poorly their endorsed candidates did in this election. Instead, they want to continue pushing fear and pushing guns. But it is time for our elected officials to understand that Americans want to move beyond the fear tactics of the NRA. It is time for legislators to take a stand, join us, and support meaningful, common sense gun laws.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tragedy at Massachusetts Machine Gun Shoot

I think machine gun shoots are pathetic events. Basically, it’s a bunch of guys who get together and blow things up. They are drawn by the chance to shoot a variety of fully automatic weapons at targets like cars (probably some sort of road rage release) and other things that look “cool” when they get shot and blow up. While these gatherings strike me as both sad and silly I understand that they are legal and that there are men who get a thrill from the destructive power of firearms. These events will, no doubt, continue to take place across this county.

This past weekend the Westfield Sportsman’s Club held a machine gun shoot. The event was billed as “Cocked, Locked, and Ready to Rock” and promised targets that included vehicles, pumpkins and “other fun stuff.” Children under 16 were admitted for free and there was no age limit or license required to shoot a machine gun.

A tragedy occurred when an 8-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in the head. The boy was allowed to shoot a fully automatic Uzi machine gun and according to the police statement “the force of the weapon made it travel up and back toward his head, where he suffered the injury.” The child died at the Springfield hospital.

The average 8-year-old stands just a little over four feet tall and weighs a scant 55 pounds. Even with two hands such a child would not have enough strength to control the recoil of an Uzi. While it’s one thing for grown men to get their jollies off shooting big, bad guns, it’s quite another thing to give a fully automatic machine gun to an 8-year-old. That is just irresponsible.

I hope that organizers of these pitiful events take a long hard look at what happened in Massachusetts and stop the foolish, immature, and reckless practice of allowing children to participate in machine gun shoots. If the adults at these events can’t exercise some common sense then policy makers should consider intervention. Next time the guys want to get together and blow things up they would do best to leave the kids at home.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Ayes and the Noes of "Second Amendment Enforcement Act" House Vote

NECPGV would like to give a big HURRAH to all those members of Congress who had the courage and the fortitude to vote NO on the "Second Amendment Enforcement Act", a bill to override D.C.'s gun laws. In this election year all too many members of the House are kowtowing to the gun lobby and voting to protect guns instead of voting to protect the health and safety of the public.

We wish to thank all the House members from Southern New England who stood up to the NRA. Our deepest appreciation goes to Representatives Larson, Courtney, DeLauro, Shays and Murphy from Connecticut; Representatives Olver, Neal, McGovern, Frank, Tsongas, Tierney, Markey, Capuano, Lynch and Delahunt from Massachusetts; and Representatives Kennedy and Langevin from Rhode Island.

It is unfortunate that we must give a big RASPBERRY to all the House members from Northern New England. None of them had the courage to say no to the NRA. NECPGV sent the following letter to Representatives Allen and Michaud from Maine; Representatives Hodes and Shea-Porter from New Hampshire; and Representative Welch from Vermont:

Dear Representative ,

It is incredibly distressing to note your recent vote in favor of the National Rifle Association's latest sham the "Second Amendment Enforcement Act." Not only did you vote to override the democratic rights of the residents of the District of Columbia you voted to ignore the concerns of the District Police Department. This dangerous and irresponsible bill will gut D.C.'s gun laws, repeal the District's handgun registration process, destroy safe storage requirements, and legalize high-capacity assault weapons. It will also infringe on the D.C. Council's ability to enact firearm regulations in the future.

It should be noted that your vote defies logic when considering that in April 2008 two polling firms, the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and the Republican firm The Tarrance Group, conducted a national survey on behalf of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Some of the key findings of the survey include:

· Stopping gun violence is a top goal for most Americans. 71 percent believe that stopping gun violence is a "very important" goal.
· 60 percent of Americans favor stricter gun laws. 33 percent think that gun laws should be kept the same and only 7 percent believe that they should actually be made less strict.
· 87 percent support requiring all gun sales be subject to a Brady background check.
· 70 percent support requiring every gun owner to register each gun they own as part of a national gun registry.

The result of this survey clearly demonstrates that many Americans overwhelmingly favor common sense gun laws. While many Americans also support the right to own a gun they see this as compatible with gun laws that target illegal guns and fight gun violence. This is, in fact, the essence of the recent Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller.

The Heller decision clearly states that while the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense, the right is not unlimited. Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, held that "like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose." And while the court was split 5-4 on whether the right granted by the Second Amendment is tied to militia service, all nine Justices agreed that a wide variety of gun laws are presumptively lawful.

Next time you are faced with a key vote on the gun issue, please keep in mind that the majority of your constituents do not own a gun. The majority of your constituents favor stricter gun laws, including constituents who own a firearm. Despite this fact, you have disappointingly chosen to kowtow to the extreme wishes of the gun-pushers at the National Rifle Association. As one newspaper editorial put it: "This bill tramples on the district's right to govern itself and makes it harder for the police to protect streets traveled by local residents, government officials, diplomats and dignitaries. Voters also should remember this vote when their elected representatives piously declare their devotion to curbing the influence of rich lobbyists."

Who else supports the Second Amendment Enforcement Act? People on the Internet with tag lines that read: "The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives should be a store, not a government agency" and "I'm a Patriot, modern day Minute Man, and devout Enemy of the Left. There are way too many wasted bullets in this country. If you listen carefully you can hear the Angels sing and trumpets sound with each rebirth of another AK-47. Therefore I know I'm doing the Lord's work."

Hopefully, in the future, you will reclaim your courage by standing up to the gun lobby and vote to protect the safety and well-being of your constituents over guns.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Live Free or Die (Except if you live in Washington, D.C.) H.R. 6691 - A Bad Idea

I’ve always admired the New Hampshire motto Live Free or Die. It calls forth ideals of independence and self-government. Which begs the question, why are both of New Hampshire’s congressional representatives trying to strong arm and overrule the Washington, D.C. City Council? Don’t the residents of D.C. have democratic rights?

Both Congressman Paul Hodes and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter are cosponsors of H.R. 6691, a bill that would repeal D.C. gun laws, overturning provisions enacted by the District of Columbia City Council and endorsed by the residents of Washington, D.C. This bill is a shameless attempt by the gun lobby to interfere with local city rule and to push the NRA’s irresponsible and dangerous agenda. The D.C. Council does not need the NRA to draft their new gun regulations.

In June the Supreme Court overturned D.C.’s restrictive gun laws in the landmark decision D.C. v. Heller. While the Court ruled that the D.C. laws went too far in restricting access to handguns and that an individual right to bear arms is protected under the Second Amendment the court also ruled that this right is not absolute and that gun regulation is constitutional.

In response to this ruling and to bring the city into compliance with Heller, the D.C. Council passed an emergency resolution allowing the registration of handguns. They are currently working hard on crafting permanent gun legislation that will best provide for the public’s safety.

But the gun lobby is not satisfied with the D.C. Council’s efforts and is taking this opportunity to encourage Congress to meddle in local legislation. They are pushing hard for H.R. 6691, a bill that would not only repeal D.C.’s current gun regulations but also prevent the D.C. City Council from enacting any gun-related legislation in the future. It is an obscene attempt to prevent the residents of Washington, D.C. from governing themselves. How ironic that the only two congressional cosponsors from New England come from the state with the motto Live Free or Die.

H.R. 6691 has many dangerous provisions that go far beyond the requirements of the Heller ruling. H.R. 6691 would:

- Repeal D.C.’s ban on semi-automatic weapons, including assault weapons like the Tec-9 assault pistol and AK-47s.

- Allow D.C. residents to cross state lines to buy handguns in neighboring states. Current federal law bars gun dealers from selling handguns directly to out of state buyers because of the high risk this creates for interstate gun trafficking.

- Repeal D.C.’s registration requirements for firearms.

- Repeal D.C.’s safe storage laws.

- Prohibit D.C. from passing future gun regulations.

At a recent hearing on H.R. 6691 law enforcement officials testified that the bill would even permit people to carry loaded semi-automatic rifles such as AK-47s lawfully on the streets of D.C.

“Imagine how difficult it will be for law enforcement to safeguard the public, not to mention the president at the inaugural parade,” said Chief Cathy Lanier, chief of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department.

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty has asked Congress to demonstrate their "commitment to the democratic process" by allowing the city government to work on its own to comply with the Heller decision.

So why are Representatives Hodes and Shea-Porter so anxious to not only interfere with D.C. lawmakers but to enact legislation that will make it harder to protect residents and visitors of Washington, D.C.? Are they afraid that in this election year the NRA will work against them if they don’t cosponsor this legislation? Do they not understand the Heller ruling when it states “like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” How sad to see both New Hampshire representatives supporting this irresponsible and dangerous NRA agenda.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Man arrested for having gun at Obama rally

I just read a news article about a man who was arrested outside of a Barack Obama rally.  The man had come to the rally to pass out fliers on the right of Americans to carry guns.  The article didn’t say whether or not he was bitter and clinging, but he was carrying a bible and wearing a holster on his hip complete with a Glock handgun.

Before the rally he posted his intentions on the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association web site.  He said he wanted to test what would happen if he showed up at a rally for Obama openly wearing a gun.  Although he did admit that he probably would not “get within a mile of the rally” he nonetheless claimed his constitutional rights were violated when he was arrested.  

Say what?!?  A violation of his constitutional rights?  Seriously?!? 

In an effort to try and understand this thinking I went to the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association website.  I found a lively discussion of the incident in the “Concealed and Open Carry” group.

Support for this open carry bravado was overwhelming with little to no acknowledgement of the need to protect candidates, the threat posed by guns, or the history of political assassinations.  Instead the comments read:

 “you're fucking kidding me, right? tell me the rally was in a school or state park or something. seriously, i may not have had the balls to do what he did, but that's just me. some will say he did us a disservice by proving we're a bunch of gun toting bible thumping yahoos. that may be. but it doesn't excuse the fact that what he did, was in all likelihood, perfectly legal.”

 “The only crime committed was by local law enforcement. False arrest illegal search and seizure, and last but not least interrogating some one with out a lawyer present. This makes me sick and these assholes will not be held accountable for their actions, and that is the saddest part of it all.”

 “dont you wish things where how they used to be back in the old west when 90percent of the people were carrying incuding the politicians....”

 “In the founders time, this would have been considered an act of war. There is absolutely no question that the disgusting acts perpetrated by the officers involved are in direct violation of the Constitution. The Constitution does not get suspended for anyone, not even Obama. Period.”

 “I just don't know the words to express my outrage over this incident. An obvious violation of this mans rights.”

 “In the future, I think it would be a good idea to show up OC'ing (open carry)in numbers and organized... at least several dozens, if not hundreds... including our women and children in hand... guns, Bibles, and all... in order for a TRUE message to be sent.”

 “This is just a small taste of what will come if the Obama regime moves into Pennsylvania Ave.

But the comment that really stood out was the one that referred to the bystander, John Atkinson, who notified police that there was someone with a gun. 

 “I hope he successfully sues the shit out of those who arrested him, and OASN, I sincerely wish that John Atkinson has a long, dragged out, excruciatingly painful, bout with stomach and colon cancer, and dies without pain medication.”


Friday, August 15, 2008

Open Democratic Platform Meeting

The message from the Obama campaign was exciting: Every four years, the Democratic Party assembles a platform that outlines the party's position on a number of issues. Traditionally, the drafting of the platform is not open to ordinary people. This year, that's going to change. For two weeks in July, people all across America will hold Platform Meetings in their own communities to discuss the issues and share their input. The outcome of these meetings will be reviewed by the Drafting Committee as it creates the final Platform.

Members of New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Ceasefire New Jersey, Gun Free Kids, and Freedom States Alliance met to draft a Democratic Platform statement on gun violence prevention. We are extremely proud of our Platform statement and share it with you here.


The Democratic Party believes that all Americans have the right to be free from gun violence in our homes, schools, places of work and on the streets of our communities. Easy access to firearms by terrorists, felons, domestic violence offenders, violent teens, the mentally ill and many others who we all agree should not possess guns continues to put tens of thousands of Americans at risk every year for death or injury due to gun violence.

This significant ongoing threat to the safety of our communities across the country is due in part because more than 500,000 guns are sold or transferred each year without the simple and beneficial performance of background checks on the purchasers.

More than 30,000 Americans are killed each and every year with firearms. This is a staggering sum. In addition, guns wound and injure more than 70,000 citizens every year. Unregulated guns sold to unauthorized people are used daily to rob, intimidate, wound and kill law abiding Americans. It is the illegal trade in firearms that fuels the criminal market.

Without doubt, the devastation caused by gun violence and the illegal gun trade is a critical public health, safety, social and economic issue costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars every year. The Democratic Party can and must do more to prevent this tide of violence against law abiding Americans. Safe and secure barriers must be placed between firearms and terrorists, criminals and unlawful people who seek to possess guns.

The recent Supreme Court decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, supports this view and confirms that sensible regulation as to who may possess firearms, what kinds of guns may be possessed and other life-saving restrictions are acceptable under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The decision clearly states that, while the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense -- the right is not unlimited.

Maintaining our current patchwork of local, state and federal laws and regulations leaves too many loopholes for terrorists and criminals to exploit. These loopholes grant too many opportunities for guns to get into the wrong hands. We must work to ensure that only law abiding Americans possess weapons, and that terrorists and criminals cannot utilize the current lax and unregulated secondary sales market for weapons to get their hands on guns.

Nothing herein is intended to restrict the law abiding American who has passed a Brady background check from possessing a weapon if he/she wishes. Therefore, we resolve to:

- Strengthen the national Brady background check system to incorporate all necessary records including criminal, domestic violence, and mental health records from all 50 states and all territories.

- Institute a universal background check system to ensure that all gun sales in all 50 states and territories are subject to a Brady background check.

- Fully fund the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms so that it can conduct regular and frequent inspections of Federal Firearms Licensed Dealers to prevent unlawful sales.

- Require that all persons who sell guns of any kind through employment at a gun manufacturer or through a Federal Firearm Licensed Dealer pass a Brady background check.

- Strengthen programs designed to trace crime gun purchases to shut down unscrupulous dealers.

- Remove the Tiahrt restrictions on the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade.

- Institute a national ballistics program to initiate microstamping technology on all weapons manufactured or sold in the United States, so that crime guns and casings can be traced quickly to the original sale.

- Support manufacturers who voluntarily develop and sell childproof handguns.

- Strengthen and make permanent the federal Assault Weapons Ban and the ban on large capacity ammunition magazines and clips.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Spy Who Came To All Our Dinners

The headline from Mother Jones is quite disturbing: There’s Something About Mary: Unmasking a Gun Lobby Mole. The story details Mary McFate, a prominent member of the gun violence prevention movement who, as it turns out, is also a spy for the NRA.

On an intellectual level I understand these things happen all the time. I even take some pride in thinking the organizations I am involved with are such a threat to the gun lobby they will pay someone to spy on us. And I hope they paid lots, and lots, and lots of money to their mole. I hope this duplicity cost them dearly.

But on an emotional level I am devastated. I have worked with Mary McFate for years. I go back over our encounters with the new knowledge that every interaction I had with her was a lie. I shake my head thinking of some of our conversations, remembering her probing questions, and wonder what really happened on her lobbying trips to Capital Hill supposedly on behalf of gun violence preventions groups.

This revelation has sent a shiver through many of our groups. Our coalition work requires a basis of trust and openness with each other. We will not let the likes of Mary McFate poison this foundation but we will look at new members with the seasoned eye of someone who has been terribly wronged.

I echo the words from the Mother Jones article: the McFate operation, says Miller, "would confirm for me the way that the gun lobby works, which is no rules, no question of fairness or honesty. Anything that they can do they will do to protect the profits of the gun industry."

Monday, July 28, 2008

All liberals should be killed

On Sunday, Jim Adkisson, a 58-year-old self-described “loner” walked into a church in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was carrying a guitar case and wearing a fanny pack. In the guitar case was a shotgun and in the pack more than 70 shells for the gun.
Adkisson targeted the Unitarian Universalist Church because of its liberal teachings and his belief that “all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, that Democrats had tied this country's hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of media outlets."
Adkisson’s plan was to shoot until police arrived and shot him. "He certainly intended to take a lot of casualties," said Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen.
Fortunately, soon after Adkisson opened fire in the crowded church he was tackled by three church members who forced him to the floor. But not before his shotgun blasts had left two church members dead and several others wounded.
An acquaintance described Adkisson as someone who hates "blacks, gays and anyone different from him.” A 2000 Protection From Abuse order against Adkisson told of a threat he made to his wife to “blow her brains out and then do the same to himself.” A friend described an incident where Adkisson had been drinking heavily and then put a gun to his wife’s head.
Adkisson was a hateful, violent, dangerous man. Yet nothing in U.S. gun laws prevented him from obtaining the shotgun he used to kill two people on Sunday. How can that be?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Guns on campus? No, thank you.

There are more and more news stories about efforts to change state laws and allow concealed weapons on college campuses. Currently, Utah is the only state that specifically allows concealed weapons at public universities but bills to allow concealed handguns on campus have been introduced in 17 states. Thankfully, they have failed in 15 of these states (and have not been resolved in the remaining two).

Who are these undergraduates who harbor cowboy fantasies of triumphing in the big OK Corral shootout? They worry about being in campus “gun free zones” and grump about how they need their gun in order to protect themselves and feel safe. In reality, the guns these boys carry will never be used to stop a mass-shooting, chances are they will never be used at all. And if they are used, statistics show that they will almost certainly be used to harm the gun owner or someone he knows, not some faceless criminal.

There is no evidence that concealed weapons laws have made states safer. In fact, the evidence points the other way. Where there are more guns, there are more homicides. And as for the fantasy that one of these pistol packing pupils will stop another Virginia Tech from happening - adding more guns to a shooting incident will lead to more chaos, more chance for innocent people to be hit and greater confusion for law enforcement in sorting out who the criminal is. Highly trained police officers have a hard enough time hitting their targets in a gunfight, barely trained students would be a danger to everyone.

More guns on campus would undoubtedly lead to more gun suicides on campus. An in-depth study by Allan Schwartz in the May 2006 Journal of American College Health found that the suicide rate for college students has declined dramatically in the last 50 years, a direct result of “firearms having been effectively banned from campuses.”

Guns are not conducive for an atmosphere of open learning, most teachers and students would feel intimidated, not safer, knowing there was someone in the classroom with a concealed weapon. The presence of a gun may escalate an incident, especially when alcohol is involved. A September 2002 study in the Journal of American College Health stated: "Given that alcohol is widely thought to contribute to violent behavior generally and to a majority of college student suicides, rapes, and other violent crimes, we find it quite troubling that almost two thirds of students with guns at college report binge drinking." The study also concluded that "gun-owning colleges students are more likely to drink frequently and excessively and, when inebriated, to engage in activities that put themselves and others at risk, such as driving under the influence, vandalizing property, and having unprotected sex."

It really is simple – more guns will not make people safer.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Supreme Court Rules 2nd Amendment Right an Individual Right but Not an Unlimited Right

In a landmark decision today the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment grants an individual right to keep and bear arms. District of Columbia v. Heller struck down the District of Columbia’s handgun ban but also made it clear that the Constitution allows for reasonable restrictions on access to firearms.

“Today the Supreme Court took away the single biggest excuse for not passing tough gun laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous individuals,” said Cathie Whittenburg, Director of New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence (NECPGV). “The ‘slippery slope’ argument is gone.”

The gun lobby has long argued that common sense restrictions on guns are, in fact, nothing more than initial steps down a “slippery slope” that leads to a general gun ban. By holding that the Second Amendment prohibits the D.C. handgun ban, the Supreme Court has assured gun owners that there is no such “slippery slope”.

In affirming the ability to restrict the sale and possession of firearms the Court ruled:

Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

The Court also noted that “The Constitution leaves the District of Columbia a variety of tools” for combating the problem of handgun violence, including the current firearm licensing requirement and “some measures regulating handguns.”

“While we are disappointed with today’s ruling and disagree with the individual right interpretation NECPGV will continue to push for reasonable, common sense gun violence prevention laws,” said Whittenburg.

NECPGV advocates for laws that require background checks on all gun purchases; limiting handgun purchases to one per month; require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement officials; crack down on illegal guns and gun trafficking; and regulate military-style assault weapons and .50 caliber sniper rifles.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Today's Headlines

The Supreme Court will soon be handing down their ruling on the 2nd Amendment. The gun laws in this nation are absurdly weak. Let us hope the Supreme Court decision does not make them even weaker. Here is a sampling of today's headlines that reflect this nation's easy access to guns:

Texans Fuel Mexican Drug Wars with 'Virtual Arsenals' of Easy-buy Guns

New York Must Not Tolerate 'Absurdly Easy Access to Guns' Among Youth

27 Handguns, Machine Pistols Seized from US-Canada Gun Runners

Georgia is 'Leading Source' of Crime Guns, Trafficking to Other US States

Two guns were used in Oklahoma roadside killing of 13-year-old and 11-year-old girls

Friday, May 16, 2008

Maine Crime Guns Go North and South

Two years ago Stop Handgun Violence unveiled a new 250-foot billboard near Fenway Park in Boston. The message: “Stop Traffic – Background Checks Stop Crime” pointing to four states that provide high numbers of crime guns to Massachusetts. One of the states was Maine.
ATF gun trace data shows that Maine is the second leading crime gun source state for Massachusetts and that the number of guns traced back to Maine has risen over the past few years.
Maine’s weak gun laws allow criminals easy access to guns. In May, 2006, a Lynn, Massachusetts man pleaded guilty to being an unlicensed arms dealer after being charged with trafficking 28 handguns. The majority of these guns had been purchased in Maine through ads in a local swap and sell guide. These were private sales with no background checks, no records kept, no questions asked.
But Maine guns aren’t just trafficked south into Massachusetts, they are also smuggled north into Canada. Canadian police were busy this week seizing guns smuggled from Maine into Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In Halifax, police seized assault rifles from at least two addresses. The guns included Uzi and Mac-10 submachine-guns and AR-15 assault rifles.
In New Brunswick, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police worked with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the ATF on an operation that lead to the arrest of 33 people on charges of illegal importation of firearms, drug offences and possession of child pornography. Unfortunately, police believe that the group had already trafficked 99 percent of the guns smuggled into Canada before the raid.
Maine legislators hide behind Maine’s low crime rate as a reason to not pass stronger gun laws. But it is obvious that Maine’s weak guns laws are a danger not just to Mainers but also to its neighbors to the north and the south.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Incompetent to stand trial but still legally able to own guns

In 2005, Scott Buchanan was found incompetent to stand trial. Buchanan had been charged with theft, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after an incident at the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles. At the time of his arrest police seized a handgun from his car and as a condition of bail Buchanan surrendered his AK-47. Charges against Buchanan were later dropped after he was found incompetent to stand trial because of his excessive and unusual paranoia about police and the government.

Now, Buchanan wants his guns back. And he just might get them. The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled, in a unanimous decision, that being incompetent to stand trial should not be equated with an adjudication as a mental defective under federal law, and therefore such a person should not be automatically prohibited from possessing firearms. Buchanan is now back in lower court, seeking the return of his guns.

According to court documents, being competent to stand trial “focuses upon whether the defendant has a rational and factual understanding of the proceeding against him and sufficient present ability to consult with and assist his lawyer on the case with a reasonable degree of rational understanding.” And that this is not “directly related to dangerousness or the ability to contract or manage one’s own affairs which are requirements of the federal definition of adjudicated as a mental defective.”

Under this ruling it is therefore possible for someone to be found incompetent to stand trial and still be able to possess firearms. The court can find that you don't have the rational understanding to participate in a court proceeding against you but that shouldn't stop you from owning a handgun, an AK-47, or any other type of gun. Now that’s insane.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Should You Become President What Will You Do To Combat Illegal Guns and Gun Trafficking?

Our communities are suffering from a plague of illegal guns. Every day in America gun traffickers take advantage of weak state and federal laws. As a result, people in our neighborhoods are being shot and killed or wounded, people are being robbed, threatened and intimidated with these illegal guns.

A question for Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama: “Should you become President, in addition to enforcing current laws, what steps would you take to combat this enormous problem of gun trafficking and illegal guns?”

Guns start out being legally manufactured and legally sold to licensed firearms dealers. From there, guns move from the legal to the illegal market through a variety of predictable, and preventable, avenues.

* Studies show that 1 percent of gun dealers sell 57 percent of gun crimes. These rogue gun dealers have a vastly disproportionate impact on public safety. The ATF can recognize such dealers based on: (1) guns stolen from inventory; (2) missing federal sales records, needed by police to solve crimes; (3) having 10 weapons a year traced to crimes; (4) frequently selling multiple guns to individual buyers; and (5) short times between gun sales and their involvement in crimes. Yet ATF enforcement capabilities are constantly being weakened, not strengthened, by Congress.

* Straw purchases and multiple gun sales are a large source of illegal guns. A straw purchase is when someone who is not eligible to buy a gun has another person buy one for them. Multiple sales (someone who is purchasing 10, 20, 50 guns a month) are often a sign of illegal gun trafficking. A few states have adopted laws that restrict handgun sales to one handgun a month.

* Stolen guns are also a large source of illegal guns. Guns are stolen from homes and from cars. And sometimes, when police trace guns back to an owner, “the gun was stolen” is used as a simple excuse to cover up an illegal sale. This is why more states are pushing for laws that would require lost and stolen guns be reported to police within 24 hours.

* Private gun sales, where there is no background check run, no records kept, and no questions asked, help fuel the illegal gun market. It is estimated that only 60% of firearms are sold through licensed dealers – meaning that 40% of guns can be legally sold without background checks. This is a system open to abuse. Everyday at gun shows, in newspaper ads, over kitchen tables, guns are sold in private sales to felons, juveniles, domestic abusers, and other prohibited people (including those with serious mental illness) with no background check run, no records kept and no questions asked.

So, the question to the presidential candidates is: “Should you become President, in addition to enforcing current laws, what steps would you take to combat this enormous problem of gun trafficking and illegal guns?”

Monday, March 17, 2008

District of Columbia V. Heller case to be heard this week

This week, for the first time in 70 years, the Supreme Court will hear a case involving the 2nd Amendment. They will be asked to decide if the right to keep and bear Arms is an individual right or a right that is reserved for the well regulated Militia. The case, the District of Columbia v. Heller, centers around D.C. guns laws, but the ruling has potentially far reaching consequences.

New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is part an amicus brief filed in support of the petitioner, Washington, D.C., urging the court to overturn the lower court decision and to uphold D.C. gun laws.

For a complete list of the Amicus briefs filed go to:

To read specific briefs in favor of the petitioner go to:

To read specific briefs in favor of the respondent go to:

C-span will air the audio of the oral arguments as soon as they are released. For more information go to:

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Vermonters want stronger gun laws

WCAX, channel 3, in Burlington, Vermont recently conducted a phone survey of randomly called, likely voters. They asked one simple question: Would you favor or oppose the state passing new legislation to restrict sale or ownership of guns?
The answer was a resounding “yes!” By a more than 3 to 2 margin (57 percent in favor, 35 percent opposed, 8 percent not sure) Vermonters expressed their desire for stronger gun laws.
The report (which aired on February 28th) sought reaction to this poll from a number of people. A member of Gun Owners of Vermont said that, given the decline in hunting over the years, she was not surprised by the response. She added, “I’m sure over time Vermont’s legislation will reflect the will of the people which may well change as it does.” The spokesperson for New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence (thank you Eliot Nelson!) noted that “this poll reflects that there is reasonable ground for legislative efforts.”
It comes as no surprise that, even in Vermont, people see the need for stronger gun laws. Vermont has seen a recent rise in gun violence (four drug-related gun incidents, including a homicide, in Rutland over the past three months). And across the nation we continue to see mass shooting after mass shooting. (Just this week, a gunman opened fired at a Wendy’s restaurant in Florida, killing one and wounding five others before turning the gun on himself. In Memphis, four adults and two children are shot and killed and three other children wounded in a killing that has left police with no suspects and no motive.)
Americans understand that this country needs stronger gun laws. So why is this so difficult for elected officials to understand?
WCAX also interviewed the State Senate head of the Judiciary Committee and the Vermont governor. Both express surprise over the poll results. Both denied the need for stronger gun laws. And, just like all the presidential candidates, they expressed their support for the 2nd Amendment. (does the 2nd Amendment mean no gun laws??)
If the people want stronger gun laws why are our elected officials so opposed? Because they believe the propaganda of the gun lobby, they believe that voting for stronger gun laws means voting to end their political careers. The majority of calls, emails, and letters to legislators come from gun rights people. This has to change. Take a moment, find your legislator, and let them know that gun violence prevention is important to you. Tell them it is time to work for stronger gun laws.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Intriguing News Story from The Onion

Just because we deal with a serious subject, doesn't mean we have no sense of humor. Please take a moment to view this illuminating story from The Onion, Iraqi Law Requires Waiting Period For Suicide Vests.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Who wants looser gun laws?

This March, for the first time in 70 years, the Supreme Court will be asked to decide if the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right.

Please read our Maine Voice opinion article in the Feb. 25th Portland Press Herald for more.