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Gun Control Takes Center Stage in 2020 Democratic Presidential Race

U.S. Senator Cory Booker on Monday released a sweeping plan to curb gun violence by creating a national licensing program and repealing a law that gives gun manufacturers legal immunity, becoming the latest Democrat in the 2020 presidential race to make gun control measures a feature of their campaign.

In the past, Democrats have feared that supporting gun restrictions could cost them the backing of working-class, swing voters – the group widely credited with tipping the 2016 presidential contest to Republican Donald Trump.

After dozens of mass shootings in recent years, however, including at schools like the February 2018 massacre in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead, curbing gun violence has become a component of the Democratic policy platform embraced by congressional and presidential candidates.

“In my community, kids fear fireworks on the Fourth of July because they sound like gunshots,” Booker said of his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, in a news release. “In communities across the country, from Newark to Charlotte, from San Diego to Chicago, and everywhere in between, Americans are being killed and families are being torn apart. We must do better. We need to do better.”

Booker’s plan would also ban assault weapons; allow the Consumer Product Safety Commission to regulate gun manufacturers; require microstamping technology be incorporated into new models of semi-automatic handguns; calls for universal background checks for gun sales; and close the “boyfriend loophole” that allows dating partners to purchase firearms after being convicted of abuse or under a restraining order. Current and former spouses convicted of abuse or under a restraining order are prohibited from purchasing a firearm.

Most but not all components of Booker’s plan would require approval of the U.S. Congress. Democrats currently control the House of Representatives and Republicans the Senate, where gun safety legislation would likely meet intense pushback.   Continue reading

Parkland Report Recommends Arming Teachers

A report released by a special safety commission in Parkland, FL recommends arming teachers to secure schools.

On Feb. 14, 2018, an armed attacker killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland. While the murders reignited a national debate on gun control in the United States, it also prompted a months-long investigation into how and why the event happened, and how similar events may be prevented in the future.

The MSD High School Public Safety Commission released over 400 pages covering details of the shooting, identifying security problems and making recommendations.

Among the recommendations was the expansion of a program that allows teachers and staff members to carry concealed firearms to defend students in the event of an active shooter.

“School districts and charter schools should permit the most expansive use of the Guardian Program under existing law to allow personnel — who volunteer, are properly selected, thoroughly screened and extensively trained — to carry concealed firearms on campuses for self-protection and the protection of other staff and students,” the report read.

The current Guardian Program, signed into law by outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Scott shortly after the shooting last year, currently only allows administrators or non-teaching staff to receive firearm training. According to USA Today, the program requires 80 hours of firearms instruction, 16 hours of instruction in precision pistol shooting, 8 hours of shooting instruction using state-of-the-art simulators, and 8 hours of instruction in active-shooter or assailant scenarios.

In April 2018, the Broward County School Board voted against adopting the program, which would have given Broward County schools over $67 million to train and arm teachers, according to the Eagle Eye, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s newspaper.

Speaking about the need for such a program, Polk County sheriff Grady Judd said “911 does not work when there is an active shooter,” noting that the average response time for an active shooter is five minutes while the Parkland incident was over in three.

This week’s report also recommended a full internal investigation of the Broward County sheriff’s office, which responded first to the shooting, to “address all of the actions or inactions of personnel on February 14th, 2018.”

The committee, which includes sheriffs, state politicians and parents of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas victims, among others, first met in April 2018, setting January 2019 as its deadline to submit a preliminary report. During the second half of 2018, the commission held monthly meetings interviewing witnesses and reviewing “a massive amount of evidence,” according to the report.

View the full report here.

NSSF Announces $100K Grant Program for First Shots Host Ranges

The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms industry, is pleased to announce that it has established a $100,000 grant program to be used by firearms ranges in support of their NSSF First Shots® introductory shooting programs. First Shots events serve the dual purpose of providing a safe, fun and educational introduction experience for people new to firearms and shooting while fostering community outreach and developing a new customer base for our member ranges.

The grant program is now open for application by shooting ranges and organizations. Applicants may apply for grants of up to $2,500 to be used to create or enhance marketing and advertising efforts for First Shots events held preferably before April 1, 2019, or within 90 days of receiving the grant. They can also apply a portion of their funds for any necessary equipment purchases such as loaner firearms. The grant program is open to current and former NSSF Member First Shots host ranges and organizations, as well as those ranges just getting started with or that plan to start hosting First Shots events for the first time. New and former First Shots host ranges will be given Grant award priority.

“First Shots is well-established as a program that connects people interested in learning about firearms safety and target shooting with the ranges and instructors in their communities, and it’s proven to not only get these people to the range for their first shots but to keep them coming back,” said Zach Snow, NSSF Director, Shooting Range Services. “We expect this grant program, along with the additional program support we offer our First Shots host ranges, will go a long way towards improving shooting sports safety training, participation numbers and enhancing the viability of our Member ranges.”

Ranges and organizations that wish to apply for a portion of the First Shots Grant Program funds are encouraged to do so at their earliest opportunity. For more information, contact Ann Gamauf, NSSF Retail & Range Business Development Coordinator, at agamauf@nssf.org

SAF Applauds Trump Nomination of Kavanaugh to Supreme Court

Second Amendment FoundationThe Second Amendment Foundation this evening applauded president Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy on the United States Supreme Court created by the looming retirement of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“We’re encouraged by this nomination,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “because by adding Judge Kavanaugh, we might see the high court become more willing to accept and rule on important Second Amendment issues, such as right-to-carry.

“While the Supreme Court has twice affirmed in the last ten years that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental, individual right to keep a firearm for home defense,” he continued, “but the court has yet to even begin defining the right to bear arms outside of the home or business, in public.

“We know that the Court will face enormous challenges on other rights issues,” Gottlieb observed, “but the right to keep and bear arms is a cornerstone of the Bill of Rights that has set this nation apart as a beacon of freedom and liberty. It is time for the court to examine the constitutionality of various state laws that restrict the right to carry, for example, and make arbitrary decisions about who can exercise that right.

“Our courts should be the place that we can trust to safeguard our rights and promote freedom,” he added.

“We’re hoping that the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the court will be quickly affirmed by the Senate,” Gottlieb concluded.

Gun Owners of America Statement on Trump Nomination of Kavanaugh to SCOTUS

Erich Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America (GOA), issued the following statement on Pres. Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court:

“Gun Owners of America is optimistic that Judge Brett Kavanaugh will be a huge improvement over the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on many constitutional issues, including the Second Amendment.

“Initial reports suggest that Judge Kavanaugh deeply respects the Second Amendment, even though he was not the strongest of the finalists.

“Nevertheless, Judge Kavanaugh filed a pro-gun dissent in Heller II, arguing that Washington, DC’s ban on semi-automatic firearms was arbitrary and unlawful.

“In fact, his dissent was so well argued that GOA’s subsequent legal briefs have repeatedly held up his dissent as the model to follow.

“In another case, Kavanaugh correctly interpreted the Firearm Owners Protection Act to find that a defendant could not be sentenced to 30 years in prison for use of a fully-automatic firearm if he was unaware that the gun fired automatically.

“Kavanaugh also supported the prevailing opinion in the Citizens United case, which affirmed GOA’s voice in the political arena.

“GOA hopes that the Senate will confirm Kavanaugh — and that the Supreme Court will take up more Second Amendment cases, thus repealing the onerous and unconstitutional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms that exist throughout the country.”

NSSF Backs President’s Selection of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court

The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition and related industries, tonight expressed its strong support for President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to become an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

We are pleased to lend our support to President Trump’s nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and urge the Senate to approve his nomination before the next term begins on the first Monday in October,” said Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “We are confident that Judge Kavanaugh will serve our nation with distinction as an Associate Justice of our nation’s highest court and that he will make decisions that will serve to protect the Second Amendment and other Constitutionally guaranteed rights of law-abiding Americans.

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