Analysis: New Life For Gun Control?

Gun Control

gun-control

Last week, Gavin Newsom announced he was backing a new ballot initiative that would require, among other things, background checks for the purchase of ammunition. Pundits were skeptical, both about the proposition’s success as well as its wisdom.

However, this week gun control has been given new momentum. In the wake of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, New York and Connecticut passed sweeping new gun control laws to ban possession of semi-automatic weapons and large-capacity magazines.

Those provisions were challenged in court, and yesterday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan held “the core provisions of the New York and Connecticut laws prohibiting possession of semiautomatic assault weapons and large‐capacity magazines do not violate the Second Amendment, and that the challenged individual provisions are not void for vagueness.”

The court wrote that both states have “substantial, indeed compelling, governmental interests in public safety and crime prevention.”

“We need only inquire, then, whether the challenged laws are ‘substantially related’ to the achievement of that governmental interest. We conclude that the prohibitions on semiautomatic assault weapons and large‐capacity magazines meet this standard,” the court wrote.

“When used, these weapons tend to result in more numerous wounds, more serious wounds, and more victims. These weapons are disproportionately used in crime, and particularly in criminal mass shootings,” according to the ruling written by Circuit Judge José A. Cabranes. “They are also disproportionately used to kill law enforcement officers.”

“Like assault weapons, large-capacity magazines result in ‘more shots fired, persons wounded, and wounds per victim than do other gun attacks,'” the court said.

The plaintiffs, a New York affiliate of the NRA, will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen praised the ruling.

“At a time when many Americans have abandoned hope of government’s ability to address gun violence in our schools and on our streets, Connecticut’s laws — and today’s decision — demonstrate that willing states can enact meaningful reform to improve public safety without violating the Second Amendment,” Mr. Jepsen said in a statement.

Meanwhile, an analysis of by UCLA Law Professor Adam Winkler in the Washington Post found, “The National Rifle Association’s days of being a political powerhouse may be numbered. Why? The answer is in the numbers.”

As our analysis showed last week, demographic trends are moving against the NRA. Writes Professor Winkler, “Support for, and opposition to, gun control is closely associated with several demographic characteristics, including race, level of education and whether one lives in a city. Nearly all are trending forcefully against the NRA.”

He continues, “The core of the NRA’s support comes from white, rural and relatively less educated voters. This demographic is currently influential in politics but clearly on the wane. While the decline of white, rural, less educated Americans is generally well known, less often recognized is what this means for gun legislation.”

He cited polling that showed whites favor gun rights over gun control by a significant 57-40 percent margin. But, while whites are about 63 percent of the current population, they “won’t be in the majority for long. Racial minorities are soon to be a majority, and they are the nation’s strongest supporters of strict gun laws.”

Among African Americans, gun control is favored over gun rights 72-24 percent. However, African Americans’ support is growing slowly.

Professor Winkler writes, “The fastest-growing minority group in America is Latinos. Between 2000 and 2010, the nation’s Latino population grew by 43 percent. Hispanics, which make up 17 percent of the population today, are expected to grow to 30 percent of the population in the coming decades. Gun control is extremely popular among Hispanics, with 75 percent favoring gun safety over gun rights.”

Asian Americans are also a fast growing population. Right now they represent just 5 percent of the US population, but they are expected to triple over the next decade or two. One poll found that 80 percent of Asian registered voters supported stricter gun laws.

Professor Winkler writes, “After the 2012 election, Republican officials said the party needed to do more to appeal to the growing population of racial minorities. Yet the party’s refusal to bend on gun legislation highlights the difficulty of such efforts. If the GOP compromises on guns to appeal to minorities, it might lose support among its core of white voters.”

It is not just a racial demographic change. There is also a rural-urban split. Rural voters oppose gun control, with 63 percent favoring gun rights. However, as Professor Winkler points out, the country is becoming less rural, with a “significant increase in the number of people living in cities, with big metropolitan areas experiencing double-digit growth.”

Mr. Winkler points out, “Urban residents strongly prefer gun control to gun rights (60 percent to 38 percent).” He argues that these reasons “aren’t hard to understand,” “When gun violence is on your television news every night and police are commonplace, people may come to view guns more as a threat than a savior.”

Support for gun control is also correlated with levels of education. Guns rights are favored 50-47 percent among those with a high school education, and that shifted to 58 percent in favor of gun control with a college degree. And again the trendline is moving toward gun control advocates: “Between 2002 and 2012, enrollment in degree-granting institutions increased by 24 percent.”

Mr. Winkler’s analysis finds that crime trends favor control as well. “During the 1970s and ’80s, when crime rates were skyrocketing, the self-defense argument easily found an audience. Yet recent years have seen a drastic reduction in crime; today the crime rate is half of what it was in 1980. Given that this drop coincided with a serious economic downturn, which is usually a predictor of an increase in crime, it is not unreasonable to predict that crime rates aren’t likely to climb significantly anytime soon.”

He points to “one demographic change that helps the NRA. Americans are aging, and older people tend to favor gun rights over gun control by a slim margin (48 percent to 47 percent). Yet these numbers aren’t radically different from young people (48 percent to 50 percent), so even an aging population won’t be nearly enough to counter the other, stronger demographic shifts.”

It was not long ago in 2008, after analyzing the demographic trends, that we recognized that the country was headed for legalized same-sex marriage despite the setback in the California passage of Proposition 8. Little did we realize it would be only seven years before same-sex marriage was legalized.

With this data at hand, it seems that tougher gun laws are likely to get enacted. The only question is how far they will go and how quickly.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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38 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    these weapons (semi automatic assault) tend to result in more numerous wounds, more serious wounds, and more victims. These weapons are disproportionately used in crime, and particularly in criminal mass shootings,” 

    “They are also disproportionately used to kill law enforcement officers.”

    I think that a major point of potential agreement has been missed by both gun safety advocates and by those who favor gun ownership rights. No one law abiding wants to see more law enforcement officers killed. No one wants to see more gun related injuries. We all want to feel and actually be safer. Part of the difficulty is the current inability to separate the idea that every call for safer practices is a conspiracy to remove all guns. As the daughter of a hunter, I have no desire to confiscate all guns, but I do have a strong interest as a doctor in the prevention of death and injury.

    There is a whole group of those who do research on gun injuries whose focus is on lessening injury, not on confiscation of weapons. If those in gun manufacturing and sales would join forces with those whose interest is in safety what a powerful force we would have for providing safer means of home protection for those for whom this is their greatest goal. Instead, we find ourselves fighting the same symbolic battle again and again rather than taking action in the real world which would benefit all law abiding citizens.

    1. hpierce

      “… gun safety advocates and by those who favor gun ownership rights.”  Think ‘bell curve’.  Think I’m at the mean/median.  Know I’m within the first standard deviation.  I see no legitimate reason to own an AK 47, or a 50 mm gun.  Unless it is a “collectable” and the ammo for it is kept 50 miles away from the gun.  I see no reason why someone should be able to buy 2 rifles, 3 handguns, and the ammunition for them OTC, within 72 hours, showing nothing other than a credit card.

      I do however, expect that with proper ID, registration of the ‘weapon’/tool, a reasonable vetting period to determine if I have a criminal record, a diagnosed or obvious mental issue, that I can buy a gun and the ammunition to go with it.  Buying 1 round at a time doesn’t work for me.  If I try to buy 1000 rounds at a time, someone should be wondering why.

      Truth, and appropriate public policy, is not at either end of the bell curve. [note, Tia, I didn’t add “IMO”]

       

    2. Frankly

      I see no legitimate reason to own an AK 47, or a 50 mm gun.

      Is there a reason to own old stamps?

      How about anything else that people like to collect and use?

      I think instead of AK-47 you really meant “AR” (named Assault Rifle).   The most popular AR is the AR15 which is the civilian and law enforcement style M16.   The most popular round is the 223.  The 223 is basically a 22-caliber bullet with a larger shell and load.

      You know, the 22-caliber that was the first gun you got as a kid to learn how to shoot and learned gun safety.

      That gun is a blast to own and target-shoot.  It is used in sports competition.  It is also used for hunting.   The larger 302 caliber is popular with dear and boar hunters.

      It is light weight. Almost indestructible.  Easy to take apart and clean.  Is designed for interchangeable parts and can be customized to the nth degree.

      Guns are an engineering marvel.  There is a ton of technology and a lot of history that collectors find fascinating and interesting.

      The same can be said for cars which tend to be more deadly per capita.

      One difference… it is not likely that people will be able to use computerized 3D printing, milling and laser-cutting technology to make their own cars anytime soon.  But the ability to make sophisticated guns is 5-10 years away.

      Instead of pursuing this stupid political agenda to ban more guns, we should be working to fix the root cause of the problems looking forward to the day where nanny government scarcity controls won’t work.

       

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        Good observations, Frankly.

        Did you see the article a day or two ago about the guy who built a working, hand-held railgun with a CAD program and a 3D printer? The technology is here and now for those who know how to access it.

        Speaking of technology, banning things people want is a stupid policy that never works – but that is often promoted precisely because it creates such large profit opportunities for those willing to risk trading in black markets, or it creates better monopoly positions for the powerful in legal markets.

        Safety is not an uncommon mantra in the pharmaceutical industry’s attempts to keep drug prices high and competitors at a distance. Restricting access to guns or bullets on the basis of safety is like fanning an unwanted flame with a tissue paper while spouting nice-sounding platitudes.

        As long as information flows reasonably freely, freedom will stand a chance against the corrupting influences of government power and individual and corporate desire for riches. Thus, the First Amendment. As for the Second Amendment, our ancestors learned the hard way that armed citizens (not only when gathered into organized militias) are a desirable feature in a world in which not all animals are equal. Oink!

        1. Tia Will

          Napoleon

          Unfortunately many baby pigs are harmed by the lack of safety features incorporated into their parent pigs weapons. We can wring our hoofs and do nothing about it, or we could consider safety features within our pens.

    3. tribeUSA

      Tia–well said (your first entry above).

      And call it gun regulation; even gun safety regulation (which can also include the safety associated with regulations crafted to help keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill); the words “gun control” raise the hackles of many.

  2. Davis Progressive

    hadn’t really thought about the demographic shift on the gun issue playing that large a role, although it was rather telling to see the huge discrepency in guns from region to region.

  3. Miwok

    the core provisions of the New York and Connecticut laws prohibiting possession of semiautomatic assault weapons and large‐capacity magazines do not violate the Second Amendment, and that the challenged individual provisions are not void for vagueness

    We should ask them what “Shall not be infringed” means. Violate? Vague? Each one of these people took an oath, and they spend their time skirting the simple English of the Second Amendment, just as they do with Free Speech and the 14th Amendment the Vanguard argues so passionately for.

    If the people in charge and the Vanguard readers agree with this type of thinking, get rid of all the guns, take them away from Police, Military everyone. See how that works. I would rather be my own policeman, than call one of them. They only take reports anyway. You have already seen to that.

    The Government takes away guns from the citizens, then gives them to “rebels” and people from other countries? What hypocrisy. Arguably, the USA creates its own wars, giving guns to Taliban then going in and trying to get them back? Gives Iraq decades of military hardware, then tries to take them back from the dictator it gave them to? Let’s try that in Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, etc… Oh – they already have the most restrictive ordinances.. Should work fine.. Start where you need them most, convince me…

    There are daily gunshots in Woodland, and thievery and drugs in Davis, to the point people are afraid to go out at night. They won’t let their kids walk to school. So they will agree with this article, because they expect someone to be paid to protect them, like the Fire Department. No Police can get to you in four minutes. By then it is over anyway. Be well, you are responsible for your own safety.

    1. Barack Palin

      What hypocrisy. Arguably, the USA creates its own wars, giving guns to Taliban then going on and trying to get them back? Gives Iraq decades of military hardware, then tries to take them back from the dictator it gave them to?

      I read recently that the biggest arms dealer in the world is Barack Obama.

      Also known as my bad half.

    2. Frankly

      No Police can get to you in four minutes. By then it is over anyway. Be well, you are responsible for your own safety.

      Great point.

      How many people have been saved in Israel over this latest HAMAS ISLAMIC TERRORIST (I had to cap this to compensate for the fact that neither Obama or Kerry will say it) murdering rampage because Israelis are allowed to carry?  Tens if not hundreds.  The police and military come running but often not until a citizen has shot the bastard terrorist before he has killed more than he would otherwise.

    1. Frankly

      No skirting.  Militias of the time were always formed from the citizenry and generally required they  provide their own weapons.  And this was the standard for some time.

      So if we are going to focus on original intent (we should), there is nothing in the “militia clause” that backs the liberal argument that banning guns is Constitutional.

      1. Eric Gelber

        Militias of the time were always formed from the citizenry and generally required they provide their own weapons.

        Exactly. And since that’s no longer the case, the rationale for unfettered access to military weaponry no longer holds. No one is arguing for banning all guns. As with all constitutional rights, however, reasonable regulation is permissible.

        1. Napoleon Pig IV

          “. . . however, reasonable regulation is permissible.”

          Perhaps, but I don’t recall the last time I heard a proposal for “reasonable” regulation.

        2. Frankly

          And since that’s no longer the case

          I was the case before.

          It is not the case today.

          It could be the case tomorrow.

          In fact, accepting the proviso of Constitutionally protected gun ownership rights helps prevent it becoming the case tomorrow.

           

          1. Don Shor

            Actually, it pretty much depends on the makeup of the Supreme Court, and how activist they are on this issue. Since 2008, you are correct. Before that, no.

        3. Napoleon Pig IV

          Perhaps if the Supreme Court does not unwisely attempt to limit reasonable gun ownership by individual citizens, there will never be a need for an organized militia within the borders of the U.S. However, if they act unwisely, in part with thanks to past unwise politicians who previously stimulated the purchase of guns and ammunition every time they seriously tried to ban, unreasonably restrict, or register individually owned guns, there are plenty stocked and ready for use if an organized militia becomes necessary.

          1. Don Shor

            I believe that people who rationalize that armed militias will be necessary to take up arms against the elected government are, in fact, arguing on behalf of domestic terrorism.

        4. Frankly

          I believe that people who rationalize that armed militias will be necessary to take up arms against the elected government are, in fact, arguing on behalf of domestic terrorism.

          What is the difference between a freedom fighter and a domestic terrorist?  Or someone that is labeled as fighting against tyranny and oppression… and a domestic terrorist?

          One difference is the label given by those with a vested interest in demonizing one and promoting the other.

          The other difference is simply the understanding of who would be fought against.

          A terrorist purposely kills innocent people.  Those that do not… that fight against the true enemy that takes up arms against them… should not be labeled as such.

          I think in the case where, for instance, state militias would form to fight against tyranny and oppression from our national government (e.g., ignoring the Constitution or national laws and imposing executive orders in clear violation of the laws and/or Constitution), those “freedom fighters” would only fight those government officials attempting to enforce their illegal and unconstitutional rules.

          But $19 trillion in debt, and with China, Russia, North Korea and Iran (all Nuclear powers) playing the game of global malice, it is far more likely that this country will fall into calamity and anarchy due to the impacts of global conflict.

          Said another way, there is reasonable risk, as has been proven at a regional/micro level in various national events (for example recent race riots), that our government would be incapable of protecting everyone well enough in a macro event.

        5. Napoleon Pig IV

          Frankly makes excellent points.

          In addition, the term “elected government” is a phrase of propaganda in this case because its use implies that the people empowered by those elected are not criminals and are not exploiting their power in a corrupt and criminal manner.

          There is no government in history that has not engendered corruption and abuse of individuals as a direct result of its unchecked power – including our own. We are better off than the citizens of most other countries, but we are still fed a steady diet of official lies, and we still see all-to-frequent cases of government minions abusing their power.

          Our current condition does not call for a citizen militia, but should it come to that, those freedom fighter will not be the “terrorists.” Rather, the designated enforcers, bullies, and mindless minions of the regime will be the terrorists.

          Have you ever noticed how a government one doesn’t like is called a “regime?” That’s a cute bit of propaganda almost as good as referring to an “elected” government as though our current two party system actually imparts some kind of sanctity to the generally mediocre people who self-select for careers in politics. Oink!

        6. tribeUSA

          Along the lines of Frankly and NP’s comments above; an armed citizenry in and of itself, with nary a shot being fired, helps to maintain a balance of power between the citizens and their government–the fact that there are citizens who resist policies that are oppressive (as we move to more and more of a surveillance state in which each and every personal communication is automatically flagged for certain words and phrases indicative of a ‘hateful’ attitude and other designated hate thought crimes, and perhaps more and more of a militarized law enforcement, perhaps including der Homeland Security Peacekeepers), and that many of these citizens are armed, make it less likely that the government will be tempted toward a path of subjecting the citizens to more and more oppressive policies–guns are as much of a sure preventative measure against the temptation to tyranny, as something that may be useful is useful if tyranny is imposed.

          1. Don Shor

            I am far more concerned about the paranoid and delusional gun hoarders than I am about the government coming after me.

        7. Frankly

          I am far more concerned about the paranoid and delusional gun hoarders than I am about the government coming after me.

          Me too, but not the regular gun hoarders.

      2. Tia Will

        And this was the standard for some time.”

        If you are going to quote “the standard of the time” you are going to have to admit that assault weapons were not “the standard of the time”.

         

        1. Miwok

          The standard of the time wasn’t background checks, waiting periods and registering weapons either.

          Or filling out forms, because the King will find you. This is why many people go underground with this, just like the economy, because it is too onerous.

          I am a reasonable person, and it used to be the background checks were for criminals to NOT have a gun. It has morphed into NO ONE will have one. I don’t feel comfortable with that. Now they want us all to be on a list. I have done nothing wrong, yet they treat me like I am on parole? They can’t keep parolees from carrying weapons. Good Bye, California..

  4. Clem Kadiddlehopper

    Don Shor
    October 20, 2015 at 3:36 pm
    I believe that people who rationalize that armed militias will be necessary to take up arms against the elected government are, in fact, arguing on behalf of domestic terrorism.

     

    Quote by – Adolf Hitler, in 1935

    “This year will go down in history.
    For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration!
    Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future.”

    After Hitler said this in 1935, and got all the guns and gun owners identified, then in 1939, the Gestapo came around and, at gun point, demanded every gun owners registered weapons.

    IF THEY REFUSED, or tried to say they had sold the guns, or didn’t have them any longer, they were shot to death, on the spot, and their homes ransacked until all the firearms were located.

  5. Tia Will

    Frankly

    So, you would be fine with a Winchester 40 caliber 1866 repeater with its 15 round magazine?”

    I would be fine with any weapon that is owned by someone who is willing to adhere to safety standards which in my opinion need to be tightened to prevent injury to those who are not acting in direct self defense, such as children.  I do not believe that people who are law abiding and intend to remain so have need of assault rifles in their homes. I would be fine with them keeping their assault weapons at a  sporting club for use in target shooting and the like. I would also be fine with weapons that had a device that would allow only the registered owner to fire them. I think that there are many safety features that would not be onerous to supply as options, but which the NRA and gun manufacturers simply do not want to develop and promote.

    1. Don Shor

      Seems to me there are different licenses required to operate vehicles of various types, and certain types of weaponry could/should require licenses that demonstrate evidence of safety training in handling and storage.

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