|Issue of the Day Archive for the ‘Firearms’ Category|
Street Safe is a project that hopes to build upon the once successful program called the Boston Miracle, which reduced youth violence in the late 1990’s. SafeStreet is made up of 13 men — half of which are previous offenders — with a five-year mission and $20 million initiative aiming to prove that ex-convicts know best how to work the streets and protect kids from what they call “the life” or gang life. Many of the 13-year-olds children (gangs routinely target boys as young as 12 to carry drugs and guns) who are now a part of the program would have had to choose between making the best of their athletic and academic potential or follow their friends, brothers, and fathers into “the life.” Boston Police are also on board with the program as they arrange games between youth and police in an effort to promote community policing and cut gang influence.
According to the Department of Justice, the overall percent of homicides in the US involving guns by victims’ age skyrockets from birth to 18 years. After the peak, the range of deaths slowly decreases till age 89 where there is a spike in gunshot victimhood. The number of offenders in their teens — 14-17 — has returned to a previous held range of 1500 offenders annually from a height in 1994 of 4000 homicide offenders.
As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, lawmakers in Pennsylvania are creating a grassroots movement to enact tougher gun-control laws, such as those recently passed in New Jersey like a monthly handgun purchase limit. About the same time the Brady Laws were fully established in 1998, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted the General Assembly the exclusive right to regulate firearms; city ordinances are thus null and void. Yet, nearly one hundred mayors across the state — including Philadelphia — have signed on to support legislation in an effort to stem the flow of illegal gun sales. The National Rifle Association has geared up for more court battles with this new push.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 instituted the National Criminal Background Check System; in 1998, it became the National Instant Background Check System, both serving to deny illegal sales. In the first 10 years of the NICS operation, the system processed more than 90 million background checks. With technology, the NICS has increased efficiency of the checks with the growth of the NICS Index and retrieval of final disposition information for all criminal history records. One of the obstacles to the NICS is the slow process of confirming conviction; measures are underway to provide a better flow of information from local, state and federal courts to the system’s examiners.
Governor Hopes to Avoid Regretable Deaths in the Future
Published Thursday, June 11th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
Governor David A. Paterson of New York has stated that he would convene a task force to study shootings of police officers by friendly fire. This comes after the killing of a police officer by friendly fire in Harlem last week. One of the issues the task force will explore will be whether such shootings had disproportionately affected Black and Latino officers. The NY Police Department had also compiled a list of 10 officers killed in such shootings since 1930’s, which included 5 who were White, four who were Black and one who was Hispanic. In light of the shooting, refresher training commenced and a memorandum was circulated regarding steps the department is taking to combat friendly fire. Included in the memo are studies that explore whether police handguns and/or equipment could be fitted with officer proximity identification devices.
Officers falling in the line of duty have been one of the many statistics followed by the Federal Bureau of Investigations Uniform Crime Reports. The number of those killed annually by handguns and other types of guns has leveled off to mid 50s since 1998. The most dangerous of situations in which the officers are killed include arrest, ambush, making traffic stops and disturbance calls. Between 1998 and 2007, 22 officers were killed in the line of duty as a result of firendly fire by either crossfire, mistaken for the subject or by a firearm mishap.
Repeal of Tiahrt Amendment Called for by Coalition
Published Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
Much debate is going on in the gun and policing worlds regarding the need to repeal the 2004 Tiahrt Amendment, which was one of the agenda items President Obama discussed in his Senate and Presidential campaigns. The restriction placed on police from the Tiahrt Amendment prevents the federal government from requiring gun dealers to conduct inventory inspections to see if guns they possess are lost or stolen. Also, the President’s budget retains the rule regarding the destruction of federal background checks, which are required for gun buyers within 24 hours. Major proponents for the repeal include the National Public Safety Coalition, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, headed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City who believes that these restrictions limit law enforcement of gun sales and crime.
The use of firearms to commit murder actually rose from 9385 murders in 2004 to 10086 in 2007. Separated by type of gun, murders by handguns has been reduced and replaced by other types of guns such as assault rifles. After a short decline, law enforcement deaths have risen from the use of both handguns and assault rifles. Nonfatal firearms incidents are also on the rise again after a steady decline. Crimes committed with firearms besides murder remained at a steady level since the creation of the Brady Laws; this includes crimes committed while under the age of 18—the age at which many states allow at least rifle purchase.
Gun Crime in Schools a Challange for Secretary of Education
Published Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
During the lead up to the primary in 2007, President Obama had challenged the government, the gun lobby and the public to do more to stop gun violence. In Chicago, where he gave the fiery speech, 32 Chicago school children had been killed in the previous year by firearms. As of today, 33 Chicago public school children have been cut down this year so far. The President had then called for better enforcement of existing gun laws, tighter background checks on gun buyers and a permanent assault-weapons (e.g., AK-47s) ban, which expired 5 years ago. Coincidentally, the new Secretary of Education was the former head of Chicago Public Schools, of which he stated that gun violence was his biggest challenge. These remarks by Secretary Arne Duncan come after the administration’s shift from methods like metal detectors to counseling and community building in order to combat school violence.
By 2007, there were over 10,000 people killed in the US by handguns, this is actually down from 10,225 in 2006. Violent crime committed with a firearm has reduced and remained relatively flat over the last decade. During the 2006-2007 school year, the number of those killed in school amounted to 32. By the 2007-2008 school year, the number reduced below 20 for the first time since 2002 to 16 deaths. Yet, students who reportedly carried a handgun on school campus reduced steadily from 11.8 to 6.1% from 1993 to 2003. Therefore, there were fewer guns on campuses but more deaths.
Last week, Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, and Rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland, filed bills to let students licensed to carry concealed handguns take their weapons on campus. The bill would let concealed-handgun permit holders, who must be at least 21, carry loaded guns on campus. This is just one proposal of the many concealed-carry law expansions that the Texas Capitol has been considering this session. Another bill considers letting Texans buy rifles and shotguns in noncontiguous states, allowing counties to regulate noise, which could affect shooting ranges, and letting employees with concealed-handgun permits leave their guns in their locked cars at work.
All states have gun laws regarding on-campus. 26 states prohibit guns in schools; 23 let schools decide; and, in 2008, 17 states attempted to reform these laws. Every state also has laws prohibiting the purchase of firearms weapons by many who may be considered violent or have a history of criminal behavior. Many of the firearm application rejections come from previous felonies, misdemeanors, and restraining orders. Some applications are actually from fugitives. The main sources of firearms for criminals are friends and family plus illegal purchasing or activities such as robbery or burglary. The percentage of homeowners who have guns in their homes remained steady at 40-50% throughout 1959-1993, after which a decline occurred and remains at 36-42%. As for crimes in schools and colleges, according to the FBI, knives are used 3 times more than guns.
California, who has witnessed four similar scenarios in the last year, has seen its fifth murder-suicide of a family this week. Apparently, both mother and father had been fired—not laid off—from their jobs at a local hospital. Despondent, the father shot their five children and their mother before killing himself. At the time, the father did not have a license for the handgun he used on the family. He had applied for and gotten a license, which expired in 2007, as part of his old job as hospital security. According to the FBI, this type of crime, Murder-Suicide, is not documented due to the difficulty in identifying the suicide as suicide and not murder.
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, of the homicides in 2007 for which the type of weapon was specified, 72.9% of the offenses involved the use of firearms. Handguns comprised 87.8% of the firearms specified. Plus, 22.2% of victims were killed by family members. The rate at which handguns are used in the crime of murder has remained fairly flat; however, the rate for robbery and physical assault with a handgun has recently risen in 2005 between 12,000 and 16,000 incidents respectively.