Gun control advocates have remained quiet throughout President Obama’s first term but have chosen the last few days before the elections to speak up. In a new report, the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research targets what it considers to be weaknesses in current gun laws and explains how those weaknesses can be fixed without passing new laws.
Although President Obama has not addressed gun control during his first term, many gun owners expect him to do so if he gets a second term and is not impeded by re-election worries. As a result guns sales have soared, with many in the United States anticipating the possibility of tighter gun control laws should the president be re-elected.
In its “Case for Gun Policy Reforms in America,” the Johns Hopkins Center argues that the Second Amendment doesn’t prevent the strengthening of existing gun laws. The report makes the following recommendations.
- Boost the number of high-risk individuals who are prohibited from possessing guns:
The Center says the ban on firearms ownership should be extended to people convicted of misdemeanors that involve violence. They say this should include people charged with a felony that is later plea-bargained to a lesser charge.
- Regulate gun sales:
According to the report, the Brady Law is “necessary but insufficient” because it requires prospective purchasers to pass a background check only if they are purchasing the gun from a licensed firearms dealer. The Center calls for regulating gun sales between private individuals who are not licensed gun dealers.
- Increase regulation and oversight of gun-sellers:
According to the Center, “Data from federal gun trafficking investigations indicate that scofflaw gun dealers are the most important channels for diverting guns to traffickers and criminals.” Ironically, it is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that has been most guilty of that very thing through Fast and Furious.
- Eliminate “right-to-carry” laws:
Right- to- carry laws “do not make us safer and likely increase aggravated assaults,” the Center argues. It rejects research that shows just the opposite.
- Regulate the design of guns:
“Not all firearms are created equal,” the paper states. “Aside from ammunition capacity, other characteristics of firearms that are relevant to public safety include how easily the gun can be concealed, and how prone it is to misfire or fire unintentionally.”
The Center advocates reintroducing the now-expired 1994 ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines. President Obama says he also favors an assault weapons ban.
- The public wants stronger gun regulation:
“Contrary to recent media reports, a large majority of the public, including gun owners, favors remedying many current weaknesses in our gun laws,” the paper concludes.
Both President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney were asked during the debates what they would do to “limit the availability of assault weapons.”
“I believe in the Second Amendment,” President Obama said. “But there have been too many instances during the course of my presidency where I’ve had to comfort families who’ve lost somebody, most recently out in Aurora.”
Obama called for enforcing the laws already on the books – including “keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill. We’ve done a much better job in terms of background checks, but we’ve got more to do when it comes to enforcement,” he added.
“But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets. And so what I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced, but part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence, because frankly, in my hometown of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence, and they’re not using AK-47s, they’re using cheap handguns.”
Romney said he does not favor “new pieces of legislation” on guns – “or making certain guns illegal.” He said he supports efforts “to enforce the gun laws that we have and to change the culture of violence we have.”