Monday, June 27, 2016

GUNS IN AMERICA - Gun Ownership Debate

"Debate over gun ownership reemerges in Congress and the courts" PBS NewsHour 6/20/2016


SUMMARY:  In Congress and the courts, gun control took center stage Monday.  There was a partisan showdown in the Senate over four different measures.  Meanwhile, the Supreme Court declined an appeal of semi-automatic weapons bans.  Gwen Ifill talks to political director Lisa Desjardins, Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal and Evan Osnos of The New Yorker about the debate on gun laws and gun ownership.

LISA DESJARDINS (NewsHour):  From courtrooms, to Congress, the often theoretical debate over guns touched ground today, eight days after the massacre in Orlando.

In Washington, a showdown on the Senate floor over four different gun control measures, from background checks to banning sales to those on the no-fly list.  It was a classic partisan duel.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER:  Republicans say hey, look, we tried.  And all the time, they're cheerleaders for bosses at the NRA.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), Texas:  Our colleagues want to make this about gun control.  My colleagues many ways want to fight the symptoms without fighting the disease.

LISA DESJARDINS:  Lots of debate, but no expected changes, when all was said and done.

Across the street, Supreme Court justices decided not to hear an appeal of semiautomatic weapons bans in Connecticut and New York.  That means the bans stay in place.  They were enacted after the school shooting in 2012, at Newtown, Connecticut.

Families of the Newtown victims were also watching this courtroom in Bridgeport, where a state judge heard arguments about whether they can sue a gun manufacturer.  James Vogts represents Remington Arms, which made the semiautomatic rifle used in the Newtown shooting.

JAMES VOGTS, Attorney for Remington Arms:  It's really not the role of this court, or perhaps a jury, to decide whether civilians, as a class, broad class of people, are not appropriate to own these class of firearms.

LISA DESJARDINS:  Joshua Koskoff represents the families who are suing.

JOSHUA KOSKOFF, Attorney for Newtown Victims' Families:  It was an AR-15 rifle, a weapon, Judge, that was designed to be used in combat by our military to assault and kill enemies of war.  It was Remington's choice to entrust the most notorious American military killing machine to the public.

LISA DESJARDINS:  Recent polls show Americans generally support gun restrictions.  In a Reuters/Ipsos survey last week, about 71 percent approved of strong or moderate gun restrictions, while about 16 percent want basic limits and just 6 percent said firearms should have no or few restrictions.

But, as debate continues, so does the violence.  In Chicago yesterday, police reported something rare, an apparent gang-related shooting using not a handgun, but a semiautomatic assault rifle.

WOMAN:  When does it stop?  What's going to — how do we get help with this?  What do we do?

LISA DESJARDINS:  The Chicago victim was 17 years old.

GWEN IFILL:  For more on the recurring debate over gun laws and gun ownership, we turn now to Marcia Coyle, “NewsHour” regular and chief Washington correspondent for “The National Law Journal;” Evan Osnos, whose extensive report on concealed-carry laws appears in this week's “New Yorker” magazine; and, as you just heard, “NewsHour” correspondent Lisa Desjardins, who's been following the action on Capitol Hill.

As of now, this time 6:00 p.m. Eastern time tonight, do we have any — is there any possibility that any of the four gun bills that were up for a vote today might pass?

LISA DESJARDINS:  Realistically, no.  And we already know that one has failed, something that seems innocuous, increasing funding for background checks on the federal level.  That has not received 60 votes.

It was Republican amendment.  That didn’t clear.  We do not expect the other three to clear there that 60-vote bar either.

GWEN IFILL:  In spite of what we just saw in terms of public opinion?

LISA DESJARDINS:  That’s right.

And when you look at public opinion here, there’s a real disconnect.  You see overwhelmingly, not just Americans as a whole, Gwen, supporting things like background checks, some moderate restrictions, you could say, but Republicans as a group.

Recently, Pew and many other groups have polled Republicans and they find 80-some percent sometimes support background checks, but yet Republicans on Capitol Hill are going the exact opposite directions.

"Gun control bills fail despite momentum after Orlando shooting" by Alan Fram and Mary Clare Jalonick (both AP), PBS NewsHour 6/20/2016

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