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July 16, 2013

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April 30, 2013

How the NRA Arms Criminals

While zealously promoting the most permissive of gun laws, the National Rifle Association (NRA) seems to at least pay lip service to the concept of keeping firearms away from dangerous people. Take for example, the words of NRA President David Keene, who says his organization wants to “keep guns out of the hands of potential killers.” But in truth not only does the NRA oppose laws that would prevent criminals from obtaining firearms in the first place, it goes a step further and supports efforts to restore “gun rights” to individuals who have lost them because of dangerous and/or violent behavior.

Here’s four ways the NRA ensures that “bad guys” will always have easy access to guns:

1) Opposition to Background Checks. Following the mass shooting at Columbine in 1999, the NRA actually supported efforts to require background checks on the private sales of firearms. Today, however, the NRA has flipped 180 degrees and adamantly opposes any and all efforts to expand background checks. Their opposition is in part due to the claim that background checks would place an undue burden on “the little guy,” meaning average law-abiding citizens. Law-abiding citizens, however, have no problems passing background checks. And approximately 90% of background checks are completed in a matter of minutes, so no “burden” exists.

Meanwhile, a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that nearly 80% of prison inmates incarcerated for gun-related crimes acquired their guns through private transactions. [U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities,” 2004; and Daniel Webster, Jon Vernick, Emma McGinty, and Ted Alcorn, “Preventing the Diversion of Guns to Criminals through Effective Firearm Sales Laws” in “Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis,” 2013, p. 110.]

We know that background checks work. Between 1994 and 2009, background checks conducted by federally licensed firearms dealers prevented nearly two million prohibited purchasers (i.e., convicted felons, those under active restraining orders for domestic abuse, dangerous mentally ill individuals, etc.) from buying guns. Still the NRA did everything in its power to make sure the recent Toomey-Manchin amendment—which would have required background checks on all private sales of firearms through “commercial” venues like gun shows and websites—failed in the Senate. The NRA’s efforts included grading all the votes on the amendment (including procedural ones) and sending a letter to Senators that called the campaign to expand background checks “misguided.”

2) Support for “Restoration” Programs. Prohibited under federal law from buying guns because of dangerous behavior? No problem, the NRA believes in second chances. In 1986, the NRA-drafted Firearm Owners Protection Act significantly altered federal law by allowing states to restore gun purchasing/ownership rights to convicted felons. Since that time, the NRA has lobbied aggressively in the states to establish such restoration programs.

Today, restoration is automatic for non-violent felons in at least 11 states. Several other states allow violent felons to petition to have their gun purchasing/ownership rights restored. The application and review process in many of these states is often superficial and deeply flawed.

For example, in 2001, three police officers in Minneapolis were shot and wounded by a convicted murderer whose gun rights had been restored automatically in 1987. He had served a six-and-a-half year prison sentence for killing his estranged wife and a family friend with a shotgun. Then there was the case of Mitchell W. Reed from the state of Washington. He was disqualified from purchasing/owning firearms after a 1984 felony cocaine conviction (he also had seven prior misdemeanor convictions, including for assault). Nonetheless, in 2003, he successfully petitioned to get his gun rights back in Snohomish County Superior Court. The following year, he began to physically abuse his wife, growing progressively more violent with each attack. He was then arrested in 2009 and charged with harassing and threatening to kill his wife’s ex-husband. While those charges were pending, he was again arrested, this time on second-degree assault charges after he beat up and tried to strangle his wife. He eventually pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and intimidating a witness, as well as fourth-degree assault and harassment.

3) Protecting Arsenals of Domestic Abusers. The NRA also makes it difficult to remove firearms from violent individuals under active restraining orders for domestic abuse. In 1994, Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which forbid most domestic abusers subject to full restraining orders from purchasing or possessing firearms. However, lobbying pressure from the NRA caused lawmakers to exclude individuals facing temporary orders of protection.

While some states like California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts do require the surrender of firearms by individuals under temporary protection orders, efforts to enact similar legislation in other states have been blocked by the NRA. The results in those states are often ugly.

For example, in 2012 Washington resident Stephanie Holten received a temporary order of protection against her ex-husband. It did not require him to surrender his guns. The day the order was filed, Holten came home with her children to find her ex-husband waiting for them with a semiautomatic rifle. Luckily, she was able to call 911 and first responders arrived before anyone was harmed. Others have not been so lucky... In July 2010, Oklahoma resident Barbara Dye received an emergency order of protection against her husband, who she was in the process of divorcing. Two weeks later, her husband shot and killed her in a parking lot with a revolver.

Guns and domestic violence are a toxic combination. Approximately a quarter of women murdered every year are murdered with a firearm by their intimate partner. According to a study in Criminal Justice Review, one out of every five women slain by an intimate partner had a protective order against their killer. Despite these tragedies, the NRA continues to shut down legislation that would mandate that those under temporary protective orders surrender their firearms.

4) Altering Standards by which Courts Evaluate Gun Laws. Having failed to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to broaden the level of scrutiny gun laws face in this country (an argument they pushed in their amicus brief in the 2008 case of D.C. v. Heller), the NRA is now pushing state courts to do so.

The NRA has already accomplished this goal in Louisiana with Amendment 2, which was passed by legislative ballot referendum in November 2012. Amendment 2 subjects gun laws to “strict scrutiny,” which is the highest level of legal scrutiny. When a law is subject to strict scrutiny, it is presumed to be unconstitutional until proven otherwise—the same level of judicial protection that the right to free speech and racial equality receive.

Only an extremist would suggest that Amendment 2 is vindicating constitutional rights intended by our Founders, however. On March 21, 2013, Orleans Parish Judge Darryl Derbigny dismissed the case of convicted felon Glen Draughter, who had been caught riding in a car with a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson and an AK-47 with a 30-round magazine. Derbigny ruled that banning felons from owning firearms is unconstitutional under the strict scrutiny standard of review required by Amendment 2.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who had promoted Amendment 2 as “an ironclad guarantee of freedom” prior to the ballot referendum, suddenly didn’t agree with what it had wrought. After Derbigny’s ruling, the Jindal administration put out a statement saying, “We disagree with the judge’s ruling. The amendment passed last session is not in conflict with Louisiana or federal law barring felons from owning guns.” The governor should have realized that it’s “buyer beware” when you let the NRA write your state’s gun laws.

The NRA doesn’t shame easily, however, and is pushing similar legislative ballot referendums in Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Alabama.

With gun industry executives sitting directly on its Board of Directors, and millions of dollars rolling into its coffers every year in direct corporate contributions from the industry, the NRA is interested in one thing and one thing only: profit. And at the end of the day, the money made from a gun sale is the same whether that sale is made to a “good guy” or “bad guy.” It’s time to get the fox out of the chicken coop and allow gun policy to be written by those with a legitimate interest in the safety of America’s families. Until then, expect the NRA to continue with its efforts to exploit the criminal market for financial gain.

March 20, 2013

Mass Shootings by "Good Guys"

Inevitably, when a gruesome mass shooting occurs in the United States, the gun lobby responds by stating that any reforms to our gun laws aimed at preventing future tragedies would affect only “responsible, law-abiding citizens.” Indeed, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 30, 2013, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre responded to the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary by declaring, "Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of deranged criminals."

But what about when the deranged criminals who kill innocent Americans en masse are “law-abiding gun owners” and “good guys,” at least as defined by contemporary American gun laws, which are the weakest in the civilized world?

To be clear, the overwhelming majority of modern mass shootings were committed by Americans who legally purchased the firearms they used to kill with. Mother Jones analyzed 62 mass shootings that have taken place in the United States since 1982. Of the 142 guns possessed by those killers, more than three-quarters were obtained legally.

The following is a compilation of mass shootings by legally armed killers:

  • September 27, 2012 – Andrew Engeldinger kills seven and injures one in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

  • August 5, 2012 – Wade Michael Page kills seven and injures three in Oak Creek, Wisconsin with a gun purchased from a federal firearms licensed dealer in nearby West Allis.

  • July 20, 2012 – James Holmes kills twelve and injures fifty-eight in Aurora, Colorado with guns purchased over the Internet and from gun shops.

  • May 20, 2012 – Ian Stawicki kills six and injures one in Seattle, Washington with guns purchased from Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma, Washington.

  • April 2, 2012 – One L. Goh kills seven and injures three in Oakland, California with a gun purchased from Bullseye in Castro Valley, California.

  • February 22, 2012 – Jeong Soo Paek kills five in Norcross, Georgia.

  • October 14, 2011 – Scott Evans Dekraai kills eight and injures one in Seal Beach, California.

  • January 8, 2011 – Jared Lee Loughner kills six and injures thirteen in Tucson, Arizona with a gun purchased from Sportsman’s Warehouse in Tucson.

  • August 3, 2010 – Omar Thornton kills nine and injures two in Manchester, Connecticut with guns purchased from a dealer in East Windsor, Connecticut.

  • November 5, 2009 – Nidal Malik Hassan kills thirteen and injures thirty in Fort Hood, Texas with a gun purchased from a gun shop in Killeen, Texas.

  • April 3, 2009 – Jiverly Wong kills fourteen and injures four in Binghamton, New York with guns purchased from Gander Mountain in New York.

  • March 29, 2009 – Robert Stewart kills eight and injures three in Carthage, California.

  • June 25, 2008 – Wesley Neal Higdon kills six and inures one in Henderson, Kentucky with guns purchased online and from retailers in Champlaign, Illiniois.

  • February 14, 2008 - Steven Phillip Kazmierczak kills six and injures twenty-one in DeKalb, Illinois with guns purchased from Tony’s Gun & Ammo in Champaign, Illinois and from a website operated by TGSCOM, Inc.

  • October 7, 2007 – Tyler Peterson kills six and injures one in Crandon, Wisconsin with a gun given to him by the Forrest County Sheriff’s Department.

  • April 16, 2007 – Seung-Hui Cho kills thirty-three and injures seventeen in Blacksburg, Virginia with guns purchased from a website operated by TGSCOM, Inc.

  • October 2, 2006 – Charles Carl Roberts kills six and injures five in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with guns purchased from local gun stores in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.

  • March 25, 2006 – Kyle Huff kills six and wounds two at a rave afterparty in Seattle, Washington with guns purchased at sporting goods stores in Kalispell, Montana.

  • January 30, 2006 – Jennifer Sanmarco kills eight in Goleta, California with a gun purchased from a pawn shop in Grants and Gallup, New Mexico.

  • March 12, 2005 – Terry Michael Ratzmann kills six and injures one in Brookfield, Wisconsin with a gun purchased from a gun dealer in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

  • July 8, 2003 – Douglas Williams kills seven and injures eight in Meridian, Mississippi with guns purchased from a private dealer.

  • February 5, 2001 – William D. Baker kills five and injures four in Melrose Park, Illinois with guns that were purchased from Pepper Sports in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

  • December 26, 2000 – Michael McDermott kills seven in Wakefield, Massachusetts with guns purchased from gun stores in Massachusetts.

  • December 30, 1999 – Silvio Leyva kills five and injures three in Tampa, Florida with guns purchased from Big E’s in Tampa, Florida.

  • November 2, 1999 – Bryan Uyesugi kills seven in Honolulu, Hawaii with a gun he legally purchased ten years earlier.

  • September 15, 1999 – Larry Gene Ashbrook kills eight and injures seven in Fort Worth, Texas with guns purchased from federally licensed firearms dealers seven years earlier.

  • July 29, 1999 – Mark O. Barton kills nine and injures thirteen in Atlanta, Georgia with guns purchased from a gun store in Warner Robins, Georgia.

  • March 6, 1998 – Matthew Beck kills five in Newington, Connecticut with a 9mm pistol that he had a permit for.

  • December 18, 1997 – Arturo Reyes Torres kills five and injures two in Orange, California with guns purchased from B&E Gun Sales in Orange County, California.
  • February 9, 1996 – Clifton McCree kills six and injures one in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

  • April 3, 1995 – James Daniel Simpson kills six in Corpus Christi, Texas.

  • June 20, 1994 – Dean Allen Melburg kills six and injures twenty-three in Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington.

  • December 7, 1993 – Colin Ferguson kills six and injures nineteen in Long Island, New York with a gun purchased at Turner’s Outdoorsmen in California.

  • August 6, 1993 – Kenneth Junior French kills four and injures eight in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

  • July 1, 1993 – Gian Luigi Ferri kills nine and injures six in San Francisco, California with guns purchased at Super Pawn and Pacific Tactical Weapons in Las Vegas.

  • October 15, 1992 – John T. Miller kills five in Watkins Glen, New York with a gun purchased from Mumford Sports in Lichfield, Ohio.

  • May 1, 1992 – Eric Houston kills four and injures ten in Olivehurst, California with guns purchased from a local gun retailer.

  • November 14, 1991 – Thomas McIlvane kills five and injures five in Royal Oak, Michigan with a gun purchased from a local gun retailer.

  • November 1, 1991 – Gang Lu kills six and injures one in Iowa City, Iowa with a gun purchased from Fin & Feather in Iowa City, Iowa.

  • October 16, 1991 – George Hennard kills twenty-four and injures twenty in Killen, Texas with guns purchased from Mike’s Gun Shop in Henderson, Nevada.

  • September 14, 1989 – Joseph Westbecker kills nine and injures twelve in Louisville, Kentucky with guns purchased from Tilford’s Gun Sales in Louisville, Kentucky.

  • January 17, 1989 – Patrick Purdy kills six and injures thirty in Stockton, California with guns purchased from Sandy Trading Post in Sandy, Oregon on August 3, 1988, and Hunter Loan and Jewelry Co. in Stockton, California on December 28, 1988.

  • February 16, 1988 – Richard Farley kills seven and injures four in Sunnyvale, California with guns purchased from different sporting goods and gun stores in Northern California.

  • April 23, 1987 – William Cruse kills six and injures fourteen in Palm Bay, Florida with guns purchased from a gun store in Norwood, Ohio and The Oaks Trading Post in Melbourne, Florida.

  • August 20, 1986 – Patrick Sherrill kills fifteen and injures six in Edmond, Oklahoma with guns issued by the Oklahoma National Guard.

  • July 18, 1984 – James Oliver Huberty kills twenty-two and injures nineteen in San Ysidro, California.

  • August 20, 1982 – Carl Robert Brown kills eight and injures three in Miami, Florida with a gun purchased from Garcia Gun Center in Hialeah, Florida.

And it’s not like these shooters were squeaky clean individuals. In many of these cases, the shooter was able to legally purchase firearms despite having a significant criminal, mental health, and/or substance abuse history.

This includes the May 2012 shooting in Seattle, Washington, in which concealed handgun permit holder Ian Stawicki killed a total of five people. Friends and family members of Stawicki had seen signs of mental illness in him throughout his entire life. He was charged with four domestic violence-related misdemeanors in 2008 after his girlfriend was injured in an altercation with him at their home. Two years later, Stawicki inexplicably accused his younger brother of causing him blindness and punched him repeatedly in front of their mother. He was charged with assault. All these charges were later dropped when his girlfriend and family declined to press forward with them. Nonetheless, Stawicki’s own father, Walter Stawicki, saw the potential danger and tried to have his son’s concealed handgun permit revoked. Law enforcement told him that under the state’s existing “Shall Issue” law, there was nothing they could do.

Aurora, Colorado gunman James Holmes passed background checks and bought firearms despite seeking mental health treatment and confessing his violent thoughts to a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado. Dr. Lynne Fenton was so alarmed by her sessions with Holmes that she reported him to a campus threat assessment team as well as to campus police. Prosecutors also allege that Holmes threatened a professor at the university and was banned from campus at one point.

Sikh Temple shooter Wade Michael Page legally bought the firearm he used to kill in Wisconsin and had also obtained permits to purchase handguns in North Carolina. This was despite the fact that Page had an extensive history of alcoholism, with prior guilty pleas for DUI and criminal mischief offenses. Page had also been discharged after six years in the Army when he was caught doing exercises while intoxicated. Later, in 2010, Page was fired from a trucking company in North Carolina for driving under the influence. Then there was Page’s involvement in hate groups. In addition to two far-right wing punk rock bands (End Apathy and Definite Hate), Page was involved with many white supremacist organizations and was even suspected of funding a domestic terrorism group. Because of this activity, Page was being monitored by both federal officials and anti-hate watchdog groups.

Why are so many mass shooters “law-abiding citizens” and legal gun purchasers? Because the prohibited categories for gun purchasers are not particularly stringent and for the most part have not been updated since 1968. While the Lautenberg Amendment prohibits those with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions from purchasing firearms, other misdemeanor convictions (including for violent offenses) have no effect on a person’s ability to buy guns. In terms of mental illness, in most states only those who have been involuntarily committed or formally adjudicated by a court as a “mental defective” are prohibited from purchasing firearms. Many people who are dangerous mentally ill do not fall into one of these two narrow categories.

Clearly, more needs to be done to keep guns out of the wrong hands. And until something is done, we will continue to see “law-abiding citizens” take innocent American lives in mass shootings.

January 15, 2013

I Am a Teacher, Hear Me Roar: Another Way to Protest Gun Violence

[The following piece is a guest blog by global educator Laurence Peters. The views expressed here are his own, not those of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.]

In 1994, perhaps one of the most remarkable events of the 20th century occurred. The former leader of the anti-apartheid movement, Nelson Mandela, who was held captive for 27 years, was elected prime minister of South Africa. This peaceful handover of power was achieved not on the battlefield as many had feared, but because the world had divested from South African companies.

This movement took time to grow and become mainstream, but grow it did, eventually going global. Picketing and demonstrations by student radicals on the campuses of the nations’ universities helped, but it was the attack on South Africa’s once vibrant white-dominated economy that really did the damage. In the 1980s, “between one-half and one-third of the S&P 500 did business in South Africa, placing these companies among the best investments at the time.” The amount of stock held by North American pension funds was minute compared to the size of these companies, but it was a game-changer when major colleges decided they could not morally stomach doing business with South Africa’s apartheid economy. By the end of the 1980s, “90 cities, 22 counties and 26 states [in the United States] had taken some form of economic stance against the South African government” and the divestment movement began to spread to other countries. Finally, the South African government got the message: “Continue to do business the same way and expect to be isolated as a pariah in the world community.”

Now think about the contemporary American experience with gun violence. With our political leaders continuing to fail to make such basic changes to the law as outlawing assault weapons or banning cop-killer bullets, the anti-apartheid movement should give us confidence that we can still affect change.

As Guardian reporter Brett Scott points out, “We’re used to the narrative of how weapons companies support lobby groups such as the National Rifle Association, but we're seldom encouraged to think about who funds the weapons companies themselves.” It’s us funding them, through our pension funds, as police officers, doctors, teachers, etc. Just as with the South African situation, the percentage of stock held individually by these funds in these companies is quite small, but collectively it is a significant stake. We, too, have the capability to send a powerful moral message that is clearly heard in boardrooms across America.

This kind of thinking is beginning to provoke some large-scale changes. Announcements from pension funds around the country suggest that teachers are finally exerting their long-neglected power. Shortly after the Newtown tragedy, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (the largest educator-only pension fund in the world) announced that it would review its investments in the national and international firearms business, including the $600 million it had invested in the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, which owns a significant chunk of the gun industry.

Not coincidentally, on the same day Cerberus announced that it was divesting itself from its gun industry properties (Freedom Group International), including Bushmaster, the firm that manufactured the AR-15 rifle Adam Lanza used to kill 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Cerberus, however, has so far failed to act on its stock ownership of two of the largest gun manufacturers in the world Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Smith & Wesson Holding Corp.

The movement is gaining its legs. The California action seems to be moving the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System to review its stake in Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Olin Corp, which manufactures Winchester Arms. Other interested parties taking a close look at their investments include Rhode Island Employees' Retirement System in Providence; Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds in Hartford; and the $37.5 billion Illinois Teachers' Retirement System in Springfield. What we now need is a national divestment movement to include the billions of dollars that state and municipalities across the country invest in firearm and ammunition manufacturers.

Some pension fund managers will of course argue (as they have begun to do) that their role is not to decide the politics of the investments they make, but to simply serve fiduciaries. In other words, they claim their only mission is to ensure that members receive the highest return possible on their investments. But in a nation that suffers approximately 87 gun deaths per day, don’t they bear at least some level of responsibility for supporting the reckless marketing and sales practices of gun manufacturers? And even looking strictly at their financial argument, when bad publicity about gun manufacturers mounts following mass shootings tragedies like Newtown, these stocks are often highly volatile, and can create undisclosed legal liabilities.

If you want another way to circumvent the bought-and-paid-for politicians who have refused to listen to rational arguments, you now have another way to make your voice heard. Call your local pension fund. Tell them you want them to divest 100% from investments in firearms and ammunition manufacturers.

Working together, we can end the epidemic of gun violence in America. The divestment strategy worked in South Africa. It can work here, too.

January 11, 2013

"I know I for one will never touch a firearm again."

[The following piece is a guest blog by gun owner David Myles. The views expressed here are his own, not those of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.]

Before you read this, take a moment to look at the pictures of the children and their teachers who were murdered a few short weeks ago.

I like guns and love the range, but I would trade every day of enjoyment I got out of skeet shooting, every rabbit I've cooked, and target I've blasted to hell (including an old Chevy that pissed me off) for the lives of those children, and all the children that—if if the NRA has its way—will die next, and the ones after, and after that, world everlasting.

Leaving out the sit-down with a psychiatrist talk we need to have about the argument that you should keep your gun because you might have to shoot at the police one day (for anyone thinking that a gun will protect you from tyranny, I'd like to see you go up against a drone with a Bushmaster), the only "weapons" you need these days are good information and your vote; and the only tyranny you need to worry about is the tyranny of an armed society which provides naught but the illusion of safety and the horrors of incidents like Newtown.

Here is my proposed path to stopping gun violence...

Ammunition must be stored at a licensed gun range. It is already illegal to fire your weapon within shouting distance of a home. When at the range you may fire as many rounds as you wish. Hunting licenses will also issue an ammo permit for your hunting weapon. There will be no more stockpiling of ammunition outside of licensed storage facilities. You may load your own shells, equipment, primer, and powder will be issued after a rigorous background check and standard military psych test. You may not posses more than one full magazine of ammunition in your home or on your person, for self-defense. May your God have mercy on the family member you are more likely to kill than an intruder. May your God have mercy on those of of you that will die alone in despair, by your own hand, with your own weapon.

Liability insurance is required if you have more than ten rounds of ammunition, multiple assault-style weapons, or a concealed carry permit. As the Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms, nothing is mentioned about modern firearms and ammunition. Criminal and civil penalties will apply to those who fail to provide proof of insurance. Localities are encouraged to pass these laws for municipalities and counties.

All bullets are to be microstamped so crime guns can be traced to their source.

I understand that most gun owners live in the murky, scary world of criminals, rapists, and "commies who run our government" and I pity them for the utter terror in which they walk through the world. But I am tired of innocents dying to maintain their false sense of security. Aren't you? The real problem is that quaking gun owners, hiding in their military-style bunkers oiling and stroking their rifles with soft velvet hands, with their fear of attack and violence, and obsession with the fact that they have no reason with which to face the world, are supporting policies that are killing our community's men, women, and children, and ultimately, even themselves.

"I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the same coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."

- Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1810

Please be part of the solution. I know I for one will never touch a firearm again.