As states mull gun ban for suspected terrorists, New Jersey already leads the way

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

As states mull gun ban for suspected terrorists, New Jersey already leads the way.

New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, and California are all looking to restrict gun sales to people who are on federal terror watch lists after Congress refused to implement a federal measures. NEW YORK (AP) — Congress may have declined to ban the sale of guns to people on federal terrorism watch lists, but one state — New Jersey — has, at least theoretically, been stopping such purchases since 2013.In the first half of the year, North Carolina officials doubled the number of people reported to a federal database because they are mentally ill and shouldn’t have a gun, according to FBI data released by a gun control group.Three years after a deranged young man gunned down 20 children and six educators in an elementary school, two weeks after a radical Islamist couple killed 14 people at a holiday party, the U.S.If one thing has become clear in the wake of the most recent string of mass shootings we as a nation have experienced this year — beginning with Charleston, through Chattanooga and Lafayette, and, most recently, in Colorado Springs and San Bernardino — the American people are tired of waiting for action.

Those who oppose expanded gun-control legislation frequently argue that instead of limiting access to guns, the country should focus on mental health problems. “People with mental illness are getting guns and committing these mass shootings,” said Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, after the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., early this month.A Tuesday report from a liberal think tank offered an assortment of recommendations for state governments to battle gun violence — including stricter background checks. The New Jersey regulations require criminal history checks through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and disqualifies anyone who is found to be a “known or appropriately suspected terrorist” from purchasing a gun. That increase, experts say, is part of a national trend that reflects at least one area of gun legislation over which gun rights and gun control advocates have found common ground. And Republicans in the Senate backed mental-health legislation even as they rejected bills to require universal background checks and bar people on the terrorism watch list from buying guns.

The Washington-based Center for American Progress, in a 67-page report, suggested five other areas where states could exercise their power: Enhanced enforcement of current laws, improved date collection and analysis, increased community involvement, increased oversight of gun owners with concealed-carry permits, and better regulation of the gun industry. “With more than 30,000 people killed with guns each year in this country, gun violence can easily be called a national crisis,” said Chelsea Parsons, the CAP vice president for guns and crime policy. We simply do not have the luxury of waiting while Congress continues to debate these issues and the National Rifle Association throws up every conceivable roadblock to thwart common sense, lifesaving gun laws that have the support of the vast majority of Americans. The group, while acknowledging not all of its 28 recommendations were “appropriate or feasible in every state,” said it was trying to lay out a variety of possible options for local officials. The nationwide bump in record-sharing with NICS has been on the climb since the Newtown, Conn., shooting in 2012, according to Everytown, which obtained the data through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Governors, who typically control state police, should take the lead in prosecuting when prohibited individuals attempt to buy guns and fail background checks. They should require state and local law-enforcement to systematically track all guns used in crimes — and use the data to identify the largest sources of crime-enabling guns in their states. Over all, less than 5 percent of gun homicides between 2001 and 2010 were committed by people with diagnoses of mental illness, according to a public health study published this year.

The idea of barring all of those citizens from purchasing guns has received criticism from gun-rights supporters as well as some privacy and civil rights advocates who say it is unfair to restrict the rights of people who have not ben convicted of a crime. Through pension divestment and state purchasing power, they should pressure gun manufacturers into cutting off sales to bad-actor dealers whose weapons are likely to land in the hands of criminals. State executives — such as governors, attorneys general, law enforcement leaders, and mayors — have a substantial opportunity to use their existing authority to implement smart policies, programs, and regulations that would have a significant impact in reducing gun violence and saving lives. Tom McClintock (R), who was erroneously placed on a no-fly when he was a US Senator. “Fundamental rights, guaranteed by the bill of rights, can be denied to an individual by the act of a bureaucrat.” Many states are now looking into crafting their own gun law in lieu of the fact Congress has not acted to impose stricter limits on firearms and background checks.

Driving the boosts, researchers say, are stronger state laws that address the timeliness and accuracy of reporting mental health rulings to federal authorities. Authorities said the couple expressed their commitment to Islamic extremists in private online messages. “I don’t have any problem with (the mentally ill) being barred from owning guns, except in as far as the category of mental defectives isn’t exploited to ban increasingly large segments of the population from owning guns,” said Paul Valone, president of pro-gun group Grass Roots North Carolina. “Even if the mass shooter is seriously disturbed and has a mental illness, they’re really atypical of people with mental illness,” said Jeffrey Swanson, a psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor at Duke University. “I’m all for having comprehensive reporting, but I don’t think we should be under the illusion that is going to solve the problem.

Cuomo, a stalwart crusader, is pressing the feds to add the terror watchlist to their federal background check so that New York, at least, can ban would-be terrorists from getting weapons. The federal government relies on the states to submit records of such commitments to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, so that would-be gun buyers who have been committed will fail a background check. So there are a number of logistical pieces that have to be worked out so the keepers of the list are then comfortable with sharing it in this arena as opposed to just air travel.

Compared with California, which has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, and states “extremely friendly to gun rights,” like Arizona and Alaska, North Carolina is in the “middle of the pack,” Valone said. In recent years, many more states have made an effort to submit such records to the federal system; the number in the databank has more than doubled since the 2012 mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Conn. On top of failing to require background checks to purchase long guns, such as assault rifles, it does little to regulate firearms dealers and doesn’t require gun owners to safely store their weapons, said Lindsay Nichols, senior attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a California-based advocacy group. “There’s a lot that North Carolina doesn’t do that many states do,” Nichols said. “Some states have significantly stronger regulation of guns, and that makes a big difference.” Nichols credits the state with toughening requirements for notifying federal officials who should be barred from getting guns.

In 2013, state lawmakers passed a bill that requires county clerks of Superior Court to submit mental health adjudications to NICS within 48 hours of a judge’s ruling. Momentum to take serious action to reduce gun violence continues to build, and the groundswell of support and activism on this issue in communities across the country is stronger than ever. California last year adopted the gun violence restraining order, which allows family members to petition a judge to confiscate a relative’s firearms for up to a year if they fear the person is dangerous. Connecticut and Indiana have similar laws that only allow law enforcement to make the request. “We are definitely fans of the law and worked to help get it across the finish line,” he said, adding he expects the group and its affiliate, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, to help push similar laws in other states next year. Rodney Moore, a Mecklenburg Democrat who supports tougher gun laws, said he would back a bill similar to California’s if it ever got introduced in North Carolina.

A version of this editorial appears in print on December 16, 2015, on page A34 of the New York edition with the headline: Mental Illness and Gun Violence . On Tuesday, he said he was working with the White House and Justice Department for Connecticut officials to be able to use the watch lists directly, rather than relying on a check conducted through the NCIC process. Jeff Klein, a Democrat, said the bill would amend New York law to ban anyone “on the FBI’s terrorist screening database or federal no fly list from obtaining a New York State issued gun license.” New York Gov.

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