The New York County Lawyers’ Association released a report that analyzes proposed federal gun control legislation to provide some clarity on how the government can best move forward with proposed legislation based on lessons learned from recent shootings.
From Columbine to the present, there have been 47 documented mass shootings, resulting in 642 victims, over half of which were fatalities. At least 87 percent of these mass shootings involved semiautomatic weapons or assault weapons and at least 51 percent involved extended or high-capacity magazines. In at least 70 percent of the mass shootings the weapons had been purchased legally, approximately half of those purchases from licensed dealers presumably requiring background checks. Of the remaining shooters, most would have been prevented from buying firearms had they been subjected to effective background checks. Such data is noted in a report released in March by the New York County Lawyers’ Association that analyzes proposed federal gun control legislation to provide some clarity on how the government can best move forward with proposed legislation based on lessons learned from recent shootings.
The report reviews these proposals, first in terms of whether, had they been in effect, they would have addressed the various factual scenarios presented by past mass shootings starting with the 1999 Columbine shootings in Colorado and continuing through the recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
It subsequently summarizes data collected, reviews current federal law regulating firearms, and makes recommendations regarding the following proposed legislation:
There are a number of other sensible measures that could contribute to reducing gun violence and mass shootings that have not yet been proposed or pursued at the federal level. Many of these proposals have been put in place at the state level and would not require comprehensive legislation from Congress. Incentivizing states to meet minimum standards for gun ownership could result in a series of “best practices” that reduce gun violence. Alternatively, these and other common sense measures could be pursued through stricter regulation of the firearms industry by the executive branch. NYCLA supports Congressional incentives to the states to:
· License gun owners and register weapons, similar to the regulatory framework for motor vehicles;
· Limit purchases of firearms to one gun per month;
· Require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms;
· Enact waiting period requirements;
· Require gun owners to obtain insurance against damage caused by the gun in order to obtain a license/permit; and
· Establish mental health measures such as mental health alerts where mental health professionals would be required to report to local mental health officials when there is reason to believe a patient is likely to engage in conduct that will cause serious harm to themselves or others.
NYCLA also supports the executive branch supporting gun safety technology initiatives and Congress considering expanding the classes of prohibited firearms purchasers to those persons with certain violent misdemeanor convictions.
“Mass shootings continue to be a problem in our country,” says Stewart D. Aaron, president of the New York County Lawyers’ Association. “Fortunately the government is rightfully stepping in to come up with laws that will hopefully alter the frequency of such massacres. With so many proposals being made, the New York County Lawyers’ Association, on behalf of its 9,000- plus members in the New York tri-state area, seeks to bring clarity to the proposed legislation and to explain how the proposed laws match up against each other, while providing recommendations about what makes sense for the safety of Americans.”
To compile the report, NYCLA collected data from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report, the Violence Policy Center, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, newspaper reports describing the shootings, gun manufacturer websites describing the guns used, and magazine reports, including a detailed chart published in Mother Jones, purportedly cataloguing mass shootings.
Following this analysis, where it was determined that particular proposed legislation may have prevented the shooting(s), the proposed legislation was reviewed in terms of whether it would, under the current state of the law, likely pass muster if challenged on Second Amendment (right to bear arms), Due Process (Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments), and/or Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution) grounds.
To read the full report, access it at http://www.nycla.org/siteFiles/Publications/Publications1600_0.pdf .