U.S. arms control advocates must show they like guns

Lobbying for gun control in the United States often means proving how much you like firearms.
Associated Press
Apr 8, 2013

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose state recently passed some of the strictest gun control measures in the country, often reminds people he is a hunter. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who founded a gun control advocacy group after surviving a gunshot wound to the head, says she and her husband keep two guns in a safe at home. Vice President Joe Biden boasts that he owns two shotguns. And the White House recently released a photo of President Barack Obama skeet shooting at the Camp David presidential retreat, trying to silence skeptics of his claim in an interview that he has actually shot a gun.

The message is obvious: They, too, are a part of America's gun culture. In a country where at least a third of households have firearms, it's hard to impose stricter arms rules without support from gun owners. That means reassuring Americans that nobody is going to take away the guns they have legally acquired.

Gun rights groups scoffed at what they called clumsy and obvious attempts by Biden and Obama to ingratiate themselves with firearm owners even while trying to limit their rights.

"It's transparent, cynical and hollow and gun owners see right through it," said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an association that represents gun manufacturers.

But gun control proponents have pressed on with such efforts ahead of a crucial Senate vote on legislation backed by the Obama administration in response to the Dec. 14 shooting of 20 children and six educators at a Connecticut school.

A recent $12 million ad campaign, bankrolled by billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, urged moderate Republican and Democratic senators to support expanding federal background checks for gun sales, a system that currently applies only to federally licensed dealers. Advocates want to include gun show sales.

Far from criticizing guns, the ad shows a scruffy-faced man holding a shotgun in the back of a pickup truck. He argues that background checks don't infringe on the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees the right of citizens to bear arms and is often cited by gun rights defenders.

"For me, guns are about hunting and protecting my family," the man says, as two children play on tire swings in the background. "I believe in the Second Amendment, and I'll fight to protect it. But with rights come responsibilities. That's why I support comprehensive background checks, so criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can't buy guns."

Broader background checks face an uphill battle in Congress, along with proposals for a ban on military-style assault rifles and limits on ammunition capacity. Many Republicans and some Democrats represent states where citizens have vocally expressed fears that their gun rights will be taken away in the wake of the Connecticut shooting.

Gun sales nationwide surged after the school attack as people rushed to buy weapons they feared would be banned. Some communities have voted to allow teachers to carry firearms in schools, arguing that guns make people safer. A handful of small towns have even issued ordinances requiring their residents arm themselves.

The powerful National Rifle Association, which spent at least $24 million during the last U.S. election cycle, has stoked those fears, suggesting that the White House's real intention to eventually to ban all firearms. "It's about banning your guns ... PERIOD!" NRA leader Wayne LaPierre wrote in January email to the group's 4 million members.

But gun control advocates see evidence that, since the Connecticut shooting, many firearms owners are more open to stricter laws than the NRA contends.

Recent polling shows that more than 80 percent of Americans support extending federal background checks to include gunshow sales and private purchases. Colorado, a state with a strong frontier tradition of gun ownership, passed legislation last month that expanded background checks to apply to personal and online sales and limited magazine capacity to 15 bullets. Connecticut followed suit with an even stronger bill to ban more than 100 previously legal weapons. In Maryland, legislators have approved a measure that, among other things, requires people who buy a handgun to submit fingerprints to state police.

Obama and others are touting such efforts as signs that the country can bridge one of its deepest cultural divides: The split between mostly rural Americans who cherish guns for hunting and self-defense and urban citizens who equate them with gang violence, drive-by shootings and young lives lost.

"I'm 100 percent for expanded background checks, because if you have something to hide, we don't want you to have a gun," said Jaci Turner, a gun owner who lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. "I don't have anything to hide, so I'll answer all your questions."

Turner, a dog trainer, grew up around guns in Minnesota. Weekends were often spent hunting or on the shooting range with her father. She and her husband, a big animal veterinarian, have shotguns, a rifle, a handgun and are in the process of acquiring a semi-automatic gun. She plans to take her 6-year-old daughter to the shooting range for the first time this year. Like many people from Colorado, Turner considers guns a normal part of enjoying the great outdoors.

"One of the biggest reasons for carrying a handgun is we spend a lot of time in the back country, so it's protection from wild animals," Turner said. "It's a whole lot easier to carry in a backpack than a different type of gun."

But Turner was unfazed when Colorado passed new gun control legislation. She said she doubted hunting groups would follow through on threats to boycott the state.

"I think they'll come here under the radar because if you are a hunter, you are a hunter," she said. "I don't have a huge problem with controlling large high-capacity or even high-caliber firearms because they were made for a reason, and we don't have that reason in our lives. I'm not walking around Afghanistan."

Giffords, the former congresswoman who was left partially blind and struggling to talk in a January 2011 shooting that killed six other people in Arizona, tried to reach people like Turner in a recent ad campaign promoting extended background checks.

"There are solutions we can agree on, even gun owners like us," Giffords said in the commercial.

Biden tried to strike a similar tone in a recent online video as part of a Facebook town hall. Reminiscing about learning firearm safety from his father, a hunter, the vice president said he has told his wife, Jill, to take one of their shotguns and "fire two blasts outside the house" if she ever felt threatened by an intruder. His point was that nobody needs a semi-automatic weapon to protect their home. "Buy a shotgun, buy a shotgun," Biden urged listeners.

But for some gun defenders, Biden only proved that the gap remains wide between his side of the debate and theirs.

Keane, the vice president of the gun association, which is based in the Connecticut town where the school shooting occurred, said many people prefer semi-automatic guns for protection because it gives them a better chance to hit their target.

Turner said she wants to add a semi-automatic to her collection for that very reason.

"Well, good luck, Joe," she said, referring to the vice president. "When someone walks in the house and you're freaked out, you're only going to give her two chances? Good luck."

 

 

Comments

vicariouslyAlive

You see, that's where they screw up... we're not trying to take your guns away, we're just trying to limit what guns you can get. Its crap. These military style guns they're talking about getting rid of have been around in some shape and form for over 100 years. The only difference between the guns of today is that its easier to transition between equipment on said riflle.

Its already pretty much impossible to own a fully automatic weapon in most states, and really those are they only true style of military style guns... fully autos... so any legislation made to limit military style guns has to be aiming at guns that aren't already banned... which means bye bye to the modern sporting riflle.

Its sickening how they can boldly lie while trying to make us feel better about it all.

bama

You can pass all of the warm and fuzzy feeling gun laws you want. In the end the criminals will still NOT follow them and you still WILL NOT change anything as far as gun violence. All of the shooting recently in Toldeo. Of which, I ask, how many were comitted by legal gun owners? Most recently in Sandusky, a man who had been previously convicted of weapons violations and served only a year in jail was arrested during which he was reported to have "ditched" a small handgun of which the serial number had been scratched off even though he isnt allowed to have a gun due to a violent felony conviction. Want tougher gun laws? How about you start enforcing the ones you already have. There's an idea.

WiseManOnceSaid

I agree with certain points, but without making it harder for people like these to get guns, we will see no improvement. I believe one of the proposed regulations is trying to track straw man purchases which are where a lot of the throw away guns come from. They couldn't take away our guns if they tried. They just need to tweak the rules and enforce the laws we have

BW1's picture
BW1

There are already plenty of laws aimed at strawman purchases.

mikeylikesit

its good to know that somebody gets it.

Eph 2 8-10

We need a mental health care system overhaul. It's not the gun, it's the mentally disturbed individual or a criminal.

2cents

http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/h...

Big problem today to do what needs to be done!

JACKEL

Yea,and it needs to start when those idiots run for congress !

eriemom

Wouldn't we still need a background check to know about the mentally disturbed individual?

Pterocarya frax...

We are not supposed to ask that question.

herbie_hancock

We could just make it harder for liberals to buy them, seeing how that's who committed the vast majority of the mass shootings in the past couple decades. And I'm only saying vast majority and not all because maybe I missed one where a conservative sometime, somewhere committed one. Sound unfair? So does taking away the rights of the 100% because of the actions of less than 1%.

The Big Dog's back

Trollin trollin trollin.

coasterfan

Nah. If Americans have someone they need to be afraid of, it's people like the redneck truck owner I saw at McDonald's in Woodville today. His bumper sticker collection told all: Tea Party, NRA, anti-Obama. Clearly this is a man who is owns a lot of guns, is very, very disgruntled because his familiar 1950's America no longer exists. I would be afraid to enter into a discussion with him, because his default method of conflict resolution involves use of a weapon.

herbie_hancock

Yeah the 1950's were terrible, you didn't have to lock your house or car because it was YOURS, your kids could play outside all day long without anyone taking, raping and killing them, crime, poverty, STDs, teen pregnancy, the cost of living and unemployment were astronomically lower. There was no nudity or profanity on prime time television, you could eat whatever food you want, drink whatever you wanted, you didn't have to pay for others who didn't want to work. America was a superpower that other countries strived to become. Yeah the 50's sounds like a terrible era. With the exception of the lack of civil rights anyways. We could fast forward to now, the era of "free choice". Well, except to choose schools, health care, energy, smoking, soft drinks, trade, light bulbs, plastic bags, walmart, what foods you can eat, union membership, guns, where you can worship your God, choosing to voice your opinion, winners in organized sports, and poptarts. Criminals get three or more strikes, a child rapist gets 9 years (today's register), there is war everywhere, crime and the cost of living is outrageous. But at least you can choose what to do with your body. Yeah, today is wayyyyyy better than back then...

coasterfan

Why do we have laws that outlaw theft, rape, murder, etc? Because such laws allow us to set and define reasonable limits for good/bad behavior, and provide punishment to those who choose to not follow the rules. Why do we only permit cars to travel at 70 mph, although they can clearly go 100+ mph? Because we know that by maintaining sensible controls on speed on our nation's motorways, we'll have fewer traffic deaths.

No one would think to throw out rules on speed limits, simply because some drivers ignore them. Yet that is the silly argument that gun advocates use (outlaws don't follow laws, they say) to justify why there should be no attempts to strengthen gun laws.

vicariouslyAlive

... wasn't there talks of increasing the highway speed limits back to where they were when they were changed in the 70's?

and still, it's apples to oranges... a more acceptable comparison would be the private ownership of cars without a background check that routinely kill the operators and others at a far higher rate than guns do... even with proper registration and licensing of a motor vehicle people still use them to kill others and themselves or even die accidentally at an alarming rate, and what's worse the numbers grow every year. and even when cars aren't killing people, they're still killing people. emissions from a motor vehicle after running for 5 minutes puts out more crap into the air than a smoker does in 10 years... and yet the smokers are punished...

so you take the amount of drivers that kill themselves or others and put it up against the total amount of car in circulation, licensed and unlicensed. now are we to ban cars that go over 65mph, have 22 inch rims and a super charger because the 4% of of cars on the road ways that have all 3 prerequisites set a bad name for the millions of other cars???

that would be a better example of how to compare apples to apple there chief... high velocity car = high velocity rifle. 22 inch rims = verticle hand grip. super charger (extra engine power) = extended clips (extra bullet room) both need proper licensing to operate legally. both kill a small percentage of operators and innocent when compared to the total number of either in circulation... and yet, only 1 is being singled out as a problem... im more afraid of the idiot texting behind the wheel with a drivers license than a guy with a ccw with his hand on his gun in it's holster... just throwing that one out there.

vicariouslyAlive

oh, and to add insult to injury here... you only have to be 16 to drive a car legally... cars kill far more people than guns... you have to be 21 to purchase a pistol... you know, the type of guns that actually kill a large amount of people... not the assault rifles that actually account for less than 5% of total homicides.... so so which really is the biggest evil? cars at 16 years of age with tens of millions of deaths? or pistols at 21 with where deaths are counted in the thousands...? counting rifle deaths, and even further fully automatic rifle deaths would be a bit redundant at this point because they dont even clear the double digits...

and for thouse of you concerned about the health of the people being slighted by profit margins... last time i check general motors alone smokes all gun industries combined when it comes to revenue...

we should be spending time and energy on the real killers in society... because guns in totality dont even make the top 5 on the list... rifles wouldnt make the top 100.... death by "assault rifle" wouldnt make the top 1000... and yet there's all this uproar for banning "assault" type rifles... things look a bit different when they are put a bit in perspective...

luvblues2

+1

E.Cartman

There are laws against drugs too, but how well has that worked? An unlawful person can obtain illegal drugs in minutes. Has passing more laws stopped or even slowed the drug trade.......not one bit. Guns would be the same way. A criminal would find a way to still get them. More gun laws solve absolutely nothing. Obama needs to focus on more important issues instead of flying all over the country (at taxpayer expense)campaigning for this!

AJ Oliver

Yeah, lets abolish the ten commandments cause some folks lie. Jeez, what a nonsensical argument.
I'll say it again - guns are for cowards.

Erie County Resident

If you liberals have such a problem with our right to keep and bear arms then why don't you move to your dream land?
Chicago, NYC, or North Korea! You'll fit right in there.

The Big Dog's back

Who says Liberals don't own guns?