I am a Leftist, trans woman living in the rural South and a gun owner. Biden’s proposed gun control legislation will only help the far right.

Magee Homestead, Wyoming - Gun Range
A shooting range in Wyoming.

  • After the Pulse nightclub shooting and several doxxing attempts, I decided to become a gun owner.
  • Most people who do not own guns do not understand how complicated and arbitrary gun law really is.
  • Biden’s proposed gun legislation misunderstands gun ownership and will only help far-right recruitment.
  • Margaret Killjoy is an author, musician, and podcaster living in the Appalachian mountains.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It was the Pulse nightclub shooting for me. I spent hours glued to the news, shaking with anger and fear. That hate crime sent plenty of people in search of more restrictive gun laws, but it sent me and an awful lot of others in the opposite direction. Over the next few years, I started going to shooting ranges more. I took a two-day concealed carry class. Now, like millions of Americans, I’m a gun owner. Importantly, I’m part of what looks like a demographic shift in gun ownership in the US.

I’m a woman in the rural South, and I’m very visibly trans. I unintentionally find myself in the center of a culture war; the way people treat me, in cities or the countryside, has changed dramatically since Trump’s election in 2016. The stares are longer, the sneers more open. Before gender identity became so politicized in the past few years, I was a curiosity. Now, I’m a walking symbol of everything the far-right hates.

Through my activism and my art, I have found myself in the crosshairs of the local far-right. A local news outlet once ran a satanic-panic style story about one of my music videos, and the more overtly fascist groups have sent me pictures of my family alongside my license plate number and home address.

I have always supposed that my safety is something I need to guarantee for myself – that no one else was going to do it for me. Since the people who hate people like me are famously well-armed, I determined I would be as well.

It wasn’t a simple decision, nor one that I would ever recommend anyone take lightly. The risk-benefit analysis of owning a tool like a firearm must always be ongoing. Yet as I’ve become increasingly comfortable with firearms, I’ve also come to realize just how misguided most efforts at gun control truly are.

Biden’s gun control legislation is misguided

Frankly, I believe that Biden’s executive orders and proposed legislation will disproportionately affect marginalized groups, both in terms of enforcement and in terms of access to the tools of self-defense. Because the legislation does not understand the gun community, I also believe the proposed laws are a gift to the far-right’s recruitment efforts.

When people talk about “common sense gun laws,” it sure feels like they mean the opposite. Gun owners are very aware of the labyrinthine laws that surround the ownership and use of guns, how they vary state by state, and what will and won’t bring the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) down on their heads. Many attempts to make laws more “common sense” end up making them even more confusing and contradictory – and can easily criminalize people who are trying to follow the law.

Take the arm brace for example. An arm brace on a pistol allows you to shoot more accurately. In 2014, the ATF ruled that you could stabilize the brace against your shoulder, if you wanted, without the gun being considered a short-barreled rifle, which are more heavily regulated and taxed. Then in 2015, they changed their mind. The exact same legal firearm, owned by millions, would be legal if shot normally, but illegal if shot with the arm brace held against the shoulder – unless the gun owner paid a $200 tax and filed the right paperwork. In 2017, they reversed again. All this because of quibbles over the definition of a rifle, which isn’t legally concealable, whereas a pistol often is.

Now Biden wants to say people can’t have this pistol, modified with the arm brace, at all without registering it and paying potentially hundreds of dollars.

That is to say, Biden is telling millions of law-abiding Americans that they better pony up hundreds of dollars or else become criminals because of arbitrary distinctions in the length of the barrel of a gun they own. If the goal of legislation is to prevent mass shootings, calling a pistol fitted with an arm brace a rifle – and thus illegal to conceal – is the most unhelpful of legal technicalities. Shooters planning to murder a crowd of people are not concerned with the legality of how they carry their gun.

This type of legislation is a gift to far-right recruitment, which, according to leaked Telegram chats, relies on using gun rights advocacy and the fear of gun confiscation to push people further to the right. One recruitment guide listed gun control as a way to “find common ground” before introducing someone to more fringe ideas. Guns should never have become a right versus left issue.

I grew up largely outside of gun culture. My father is a Marine with a medal for marksmanship, and I shot a .22 at Boy Scout camp in middle school, but guns didn’t play any large role in my life.

When you don’t own a gun, it’s really hard to care about gun law. It doesn’t risk criminalizing you or too many people you know. We live in bubbles in the US. If you own a gun, your friends likely do too. If you don’t, your friends probably don’t.

Most advocates for gun control do not understand firearms, firearm law, or firearm culture. When people tell you what to do, while making it clear they don’t have the first idea what they’re talking about, it is always going to rub you the wrong way.

I own a gun and most of my neighbors own guns. Some of them hunt. Some of them are veterans. Some of them are concerned with self-defense. My neighbors in rural North Carolina, just like my neighbors when I’ve lived in major cities, run the full gamut of political affiliations. None of them operate under the illusion that the police would keep them safe in case of an emergency. Safety comes from knowing your neighbors. Safety comes, sometimes, from being armed.

Gun ownership as a symbol

What I didn’t realize, until I was in the environment I’m in now, is the importance of the gun as a symbol for many communities. A rifle in a safe, or a handgun on a bed stand, says, “I’ll never go hungry, because I can hunt.” It also says, “I will not be a passive victim of a violent attack.” It says: “Me and the people I love are the ones who keep ourselves fed and safe.”

Taking that away from someone, or just making it even more legally complex to own a gun, will never go over well. No amount of statistics will ever outweigh the emotional and symbolic importance of that ability for self-determination. The far-right heavily leverages that symbolic weight for recruitment – perhaps more than anything else.

I’m not advocating for universal gun ownership. I don’t believe an armed society is a polite society. I also recognize that for a lot of people – maybe even most people – gun ownership makes them less safe instead of more safe

But it’s poverty, patriarchy, and racist policing that drives most gun violence, and those underlying issues are where change ought to be focused.

There’s a slogan, albeit a cynical one, that people involved in mutual aid organizing use that resonates a lot with me: “We keep us safe.”

There are people who want to hurt me for who I am, and I don’t want to let them. My safety is my responsibility. Maybe it shouldn’t be, in some perfect society, but we don’t live in a perfect society. We live in the USA.

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‘Bring it up now!’ Biden demands action in the Senate on guns during wide-ranging press conference with the prime minister of Japan

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President Joe Biden, accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, speaks at a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, April 16, 2021, in Washington.

  • President Biden called on the Senate to address gun control “now” at a Friday press conference.
  • Following another mass shooting Thursday, Biden called the uptick in gun deaths a “national embarrassment.”
  • The president reaffirmed his support for universal background checks and a ban on assault rifles.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden put public pressure on Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at a Friday press conference, demanding the Senate consider House-passed gun control bills immediately, in response to a recent uptick in mass shootings.

Biden was joined by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for a wide-ranging news conference following the leaders’ in-person summit which was focused on American-Japanese cooperation in countering China

During the event, Biden and Suga fielded questions about the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, the South China Sea, and Iran. But it was a question about Biden’s legislative progress, or lack thereof, on gun control and police reform that sparked the president’s most impassioned response.

“This has to end,” Biden said. “It’s a national embarrassment…every single day there’s a mass shooting in the United States if you count all those who are killed out on the streets of our cities and our rural areas.”

The president reaffirmed his support for universal background checks and bans on assault weapons. Biden also said upon taking office, he immediately asked the attorney general to investigate the possible executive actions available to him relating to gun control.

But Biden bucked the suggestion he wasn’t prioritizing the issue, noting he doesn’t set the Senate agenda and instead urged Congressional leadership to “step up and act.”

He specifically asked Senate leadership to bring up a House-passed gun control bill as soon as possible.

Last month, the House passed HR 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 in a 227-203 vote. The bill would extend background check requirements on almost all gun transfers, including between private sellers. It would also require that gun sales between private parties be handled by a licensed firearms dealer, who would take control of the weapon while the background check was in progress.

Around the same time, the House also passed HR 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, which would increase the amount of time to a minimum of 10 business days that an unlicensed person must wait to receive a completed background check prior to transfer.

But Schumer, who is in charge of setting the Senate agenda as majority leader, has been waiting to bring gun control legislation to the floor, in part, because Democrats and Republicans in the chamber are trying to find a bipartisan compromise on the issue, according to PBS correspondent Lisa Desjardins.

The calls for increased gun control come on the heels of yet another mass shooting Thursday at a FedEx in Indianapolis that left eight dead.

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Biden remark on ‘gun show loophole’ spurs claim that he ‘lied,’ but it’s true that background checks are not always required

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CHANTILLY, VA – NOVEMBER 18: AR-15 rifles are on display during the Nation’s Gun Show November 18, 2016 at Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

  • Biden said Thursday, “you go to a gun show, you can buy whatever you want and no background check.”
  • Conservative media was quick to note that’s not always true; commercial sales require it.
  • But private sellers, at gun shows and elsewhere, are indeed exempt under federal law.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

More than one-in-10 US gun owners have purchased a firearm without undergoing a federal background check, a loophole available to unlicensed private sellers that President Joe Biden wants to close.

“Most people don’t know, you walk into a store and you buy a gun, you have a background check. But you go to a gun show, you can buy whatever you want and no background check,” Biden said Thursday in an address from the White House Rose Garden.

But that is not exactly true: commercial dealers at gun shows are subject to the same background-check requirements as elsewhere. Only those private sellers – people hawking guns they personally own – can currently evade this in most of the country, with just 16 states requiring all gun sales be accompanied by an investigation into the purchaser, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Conservative media pounced on Biden’s generalization. “Biden Falsely Claims Background Checks Aren’t Required At Gun Shows,” stated the Daily Caller, a far-right website.

“Joe Biden Lied About Gun Shows,” declared the National Review.

But “lied,” while making for a salacious headline, is a bit too strong, as the conservative magazine conceded in the body of another post on the controversy. “[P]rivate transfers,” including those at gun shows, “only require background checks in certain states,” it noted.

A 2009 paper released by the UC Davis School of Medicine drives this point home. A licensed retailer must ask someone purchasing a firearm for identification, ensure that the firearm is for personal use, record the sale, and submit the buyer’s information to the federal government. By contrast, “a private party, such as an unlicensed vendor or individual attendee at a gun show, can sell you that same gun – or as many guns as you want – and none of these federal safeguards will be in place.”

Little has changed: Gun shows remain a major forum for private sales, which continue to be largely exempt from background checks. Just now there is the internet, where no-question firearm purchases can be made from the comfort of one’s home.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, pressed on whether Biden’s statement was intended to be as sweeping as interpreted, pivoted to legislation the president supports. “He believes that background checks should be universal,” she said.

A bill currently before the US Senate would make that happen. But it would require 60 votes to pass, including the support of 10 Republicans; the “gun-show loophole,” at least at the federal level, is unlikely to be closed anytime soon.

Over 43,000 Americans were killed by guns in 2020, a majority suicides, the highest number in more than 20 years.

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Biden says gun violence in America is ‘a blemish on our character as a nation’

President Joe Biden speaks as Vice President Kamala Harris listens during an event at the South Court Auditorium at Eisenhower Executive Office Building April 7, 2021 in Washington DC. President Biden delivered remarks on the administration’s “American Jobs Plan.”
President Joe Biden speaks as Vice President Kamala Harris listens during an event at the South Court Auditorium at Eisenhower Executive Office Building April 7, 2021 in Washington DC. President Biden delivered remarks on the administration’s “American Jobs Plan.”

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Biden unveiled 6 executive actions to curb gun violence, including model ‘red flag’ laws and action on ‘ghost guns’

Biden
President Joe Biden speaks about the Colorado shootings in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 23, 2021.

  • Biden announced a series of actions his administration is taking to address gun violence.
  • The actions include drafting model “red flag” laws and tackling “ghost guns.”
  • The announcement comes in the wake of recent mass shootings and homicide spikes in US cities.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden announced Wednesday a series of actions his administration is taking to address gun violence in the US.

“The President is committed to taking action to reduce all forms of gun violence – community violence, mass shootings, domestic violence, and suicide by firearm,” the White House said in a statement.

The actions come on the heels of increased gun violence in many US cities and an uptick in mass shootings, including at a grocery store in Colorado where 10 people were killed and at Atlanta-area spas where eight people were killed.

“President Biden is reiterating his call for Congress to pass legislation to reduce gun violence,” the statement said. “But this Administration will not wait for Congress to act to take its own steps – fully within the Administration’s authority and the Second Amendment – to save lives.”

The actions, which do not have to go through Congress, include tackling “ghost guns,” drafting model “red flag” laws, and a firearms-trafficking report.

Read more: Marijuana prohibition is withering away, but the human carnage it caused is permanent. Governments should take action to atone for their Drug War sins.

“Ghost guns” are firearms that are built at home by buying individual parts or kits that contain the parts. They are fully functioning guns that do not have a serial number or other identifying information, making them difficult to trace when recovered after a crime.

Biden is giving the Justice Department 30 days to draft a proposed rule that would “help stop the proliferation of these firearms.”

The Justice Department also has 60 days to draft model “red flag” legislation for states. Red flag laws allow family members or friends to alert authorities and seek a court order against someone obtaining a gun if they believe them to be a danger to themselves or others. Biden is encouraging Congress to pass a federal red flag law but wants model legislation for states working to pass their own laws.

Another action includes directing the Justice Department to issue a “new, comprehensive report on firearms trafficking and annual updates” that lawmakers can use when addressing gun trafficking. According to the statement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms issued a firearms-trafficking report in 2000 that lawmakers still use today to draft policy.

The announcement also outlined multiple ways the administration plans to invest in “evidence-based community violence interventions,” including a $5 billion investment in Biden’s American Jobs Plan.

“Community violence interventions are proven strategies for reducing gun violence in urban communities through tools other than incarceration,” the statement said.

The Justice Department will also devise a rule within 60 days that determines when a pistol equipped with a stabilizing brace is more like a rifle, and thus falls under the National Firearms Act. The statement says the suspected shooter at the grocery store in Colorado last month “appears to have used a pistol with an arm brace, which can make a firearm more stable and accurate while still being concealable.”

The White House also named David Chipman as Biden’s nomination for Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Chipman worked in the bureau for decades and currently works as an adviser to a gun control advocacy group.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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Lindsey Graham parrots himself by again saying he’ll shoot ‘gangs’ with his AR-15 in the event of a ‘natural disaster’

Lindsey Graham shooting
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham uses images of handguns and rifles during a hearing about gun control on Capitol Hill January 30, 2013 in Washington, DC.

  • Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News he’d use his AR-15 to keep himself safe during a natural disaster.
  • Graham made the statement while arguing against a ban on semi-automatic weapons.
  • He last made this claim in 2019, saying he would “defend himself” during “apocalyptic scenarios.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has once again claimed that he would use his AR-15 to shoot gangs in the event of a natural disaster or a state of apocalyptic lawlessness.

“I own an AR-15. If there’s a natural disaster in South Carolina where the cops can’t protect my neighborhood, my house will be the last one that the gang will come to, because I can defend myself,” Graham said.

Graham added that he thought most of the problems with semi-automatic weapons and gun violence had to do not with easily obtainable firearms but with “mental health.”

The South Carolina lawmaker was responding to questions on Fox News about his stance on semi-automatic weapons and whether they should be banned.

This is not the first time that Graham has made this claim.

In 2019, Insider reported that Graham said aboard Air Force One that he owned a semiautomatic rifle in case “there’s a hurricane, a natural disaster, no power, no cops, no anything,” and that gangs and looters would know not “to come to the AR-15 home.”

During the interview, Graham also challenged majority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer to bring the assault weapons ban to the Senate floor, saying that it would not “get 50 votes, much less 60.”

Graham also told the Washington Examiner last week that he believed the Senate would vote against any limitations imposed on purchasing and owning assault weapons, saying: “I want a vote on an assault weapons ban. I own an AR-15. Now, why do I own it? Because I have the right to own it, and I choose to own it.”

Graham has been a long-time supporter of the Second Amendment. In 2013, for instance, he tweeted a photo of himself at a gun range in South Carolina using his AR-15.

A wave of mass shootings in the last two weeks has sparked renewed interest in the gun-control debate. Ten people – including a police officer – were killed in a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, on March 22. Separately, a series of mass shootings at three spas in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, on March 16 ended in the deaths of eight people, including six Asian women.

President Joe Biden called on Congress last week to strengthen gun control, adding that he might take a stronger stand on assault weapons.

“As president, I’m going to use all the resources at my disposal to keep people safe,” Biden said in a televised address on Mar 24.

“The United States Senate should immediately pass the two House-passed bills that would close loopholes in the background check system,” he said.

“We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again. I got that done when I was a senator. It passed, it was the law for the longest time, and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again.”

However, gun reform faces obstacles in the form of the Senate filibuster.

Two gun bills have already made it through the House, but they are unlikely to get the 60 votes needed in the Senate, which is currently split 50-50.

However, Democrats and activists are pushing to eliminate the filibuster and make it possible to pass legislation at a simple 51-vote majority, particularly in light of these back-to-back mass shootings.

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A breakdown of gun terminology to help you in discussions on mass shootings and debates over gun control

AR 15
AR-15 rifles are displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks, Pennsylvania, on October 6, 2017.

  • The language surrounding firearms can be tricky.
  • “Assault-weapons,” for example, is among the most divisive phrases in debates over gun control.
  • There’s been a renewed discussion over gun control following recent mass shootings.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Given the ongoing and divisive debate over gun control in the US, it’s helpful to understand the breakdown of some of the most important terms that frequently come up after mass shootings.

Some of these terms might appear inconsequential, but they relate strongly to discussions on what type of guns and firearm accessories should be regulated more strictly or even banned. And some in the pro-Second Amendment camp have been known to mock people calling for new gun laws when they use incorrect terminology in reference to firearms.

In the renewed discussion surrounding gun control following two high-profile mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado, that occurred less than a week apart, familiar disagreements are arising over terminology surrounding firearms.

Here’s a summary of some of the more common and contentious terms linked to guns and the broader discourse surrounding them in the US.

Semi-automatic vs. automatic

Semi automatic
Customers view semi-automatic guns on display at a gun shop in Los Angeles, California, on December 19, 2012.

A semi-automatic firearm refers to a gun that fires a single round or bullet each time the trigger is squeezed or pulled, and then automatically reloads the chamber between shots. 

An automatic firearm is essentially what many Americans likely think of as a machine gun, or a firearm that continuously fires while the trigger is squeezed or pulled and reloads the chamber automatically.

The vast majority of firearms in the US are semi-automatic and include rifles and handguns. Semi-automatic firearms are available across the US with few restrictions. 

Automatic weapons are heavily regulated and expensive.

The manufacture and importation of new automatic firearms has been prohibited since the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986. But this still allows for the purchase of automatic firearms made before a certain date in 1986, meaning automatics are technically legal in certain circumstances.

Magazine vs. clip

Magazine
A gun and a magazine is pictured in this evidence photo released by the Connecticut State Police on December 27, 2013.

“Magazine” and “clip” are often used interchangeably, though they aren’t the same thing. 

A magazine is a container that holds cartridges or rounds of ammunition and feeds them into the firing chamber of a gun. Some magazines are internal, while others are detachable. 

A clip holds multiple rounds of ammunition together, often on a metal strip, to be fed into a magazine. Most guns have magazines (revolvers and some types of shotguns do not have magazines), but not all firearms use clips. 

 

 

 

Assault-weapons

Assault weapons
Frank Loane, owner of Pasadena Pawn and Gun, stands in front of a wall of assault rifles at his store in Pasadena, Maryland, on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013.

“Assault-weapons” is among the most contentious phrases in discussions on gun control.

There’s not a universal definition of what an assault weapon is, which is part of the reason this subject tends to antagonize the gun lobby or pro-gun advocates. 

But in 1994, after the now-expired assault-weapons ban passed, the Justice Department said, “In general, assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use.”

The gun industry often defines an assault rifle as a firearm with “select fire capabilities,” or the ability to adjust or switch the firearm between semi-automatic and automatic settings or modes.

In short, pro-Second Amendment groups typically say a firearm should only be called an assault-weapon when it’s capable of fully automatic fire — or they reject the terminology altogether. 

“None of the so-called ‘assault rifles’ legally owned by US civilians are assault rifles as the term is used in military contexts,” Florida State University criminal justice professor emeritus Gary Kleck, told PolitiFact.

Kleck added, “Assault rifles used by members of the military can all fire full automatic, like machine guns, as well as one shot at a time, whereas none of the so-called ‘assault rifles’ legally owned by US civilians can fire full automatic.”

Based on the idiosyncrasies of this issue and the broader debate surrounding it, many gun control advocates tend to refer to semi-automatic firearms that have been used in mass shootings as “assault-style” or “military-style” weapons. 

Polling has consistently shown that the vast majority of Americans would support an assault-weapons ban. 

AR-15

AR 15
AR-15 rifles are displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks, Pennsylvania, on October 6, 2017.

The AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle and has been referred to by the National Rifle Association as “America’s most popular rifle.” 

The “AR” in AR-15 does not stand for “assault rifle,” but is linked to the original manufacturer of the firearm: ArmaLite, Inc. The name stands for ArmaLite Rifle. 

The AR-15 was originally developed by ArmaLite to be a military rifle, designing it for fast reloading in combat situations, but the company hit financial troubles. By 1959, ArmaLite sold the design of the AR-15 to Colt, which had success in pitching it to the US military.

The rifle’s automatic version, the M-16, was used during the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, Colt sold the semi-automatic version, the AR-15, to the public and police. 

“If you’re a hunter, camper, or collector, you’ll want the AR-15 Sporter,” a 1963 advertisement for the firearm said.

Colt’s patent on the rifle’s operating system expired in 1977, opening the door for other manufacturers to copy the technology and make their own models. 

The AR-15 was prohibited from 1994 to 2004 via the assault weapons ban. Gun manufacturers promptly reintroduced the AR-15 after the ban expired, and sales went way up. 

There are “well over 11 million” AR-15 style rifles in the hands of Americans, according to an investigation by CBS News’s “60 Minutes,” which also notes handguns kill “far more people.”

But AR-15 style rifles have frequently been used in mass shootings, placing the firearm at the center of the debate over gun control — particularly in relation to whether an assault weapons ban should be reimposed. 

High-capacity magazines

High capacity magazines
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut speaks at a news conference on a proposed amendment to ban high-capacity magazines in guns in Washington, DC, on February 12, 2019.

High or large-capacity magazines are typically defined as ammunition-feeding devices holding more than 10 rounds. Nine states currently ban high-capacity magazines.

High-capacity magazines are capable of holding up to 100 rounds of ammunition, allowing for dozens of shots to be fired off before reloading. The rifle used in a 2019 mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, was affixed with a 100-round drum magazine.

 

Bump stock

Bump stock
A bump fire stock that attaches to a semi-automatic rifle to increase the firing rate is seen at Good Guys Gun Shop in Orem, Utah, on October 4, 2017.

A bump stock is an attachment that allows a semi-automatic weapon to fire at a more rapid rate. 

It replaces the standard stock of a rifle, or the part of the firearm that rests against the shoulder. A bump stock uses the recoil effect to bounce the rifle off of the shoulder of the shooter, which in turn causes the trigger to continuously bump back into the shooter’s trigger finger. 

In effect, bump stocks allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns. 

Bump stocks were banned by the Trump administration in a large part due to the Las Vegas shooting in 2017, which was the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

 

Red flag law

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a sign during a rally against guns and white supremacy in the wake of mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso in front of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 6, 2019.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
Rally against guns and white supremacy in front of the White House in Washington

Red flag laws, also known as Extreme Risk laws, allow judges to temporarily confiscate a person’s firearms if they’re considered a danger to themselves or others. 

Nineteen states and Washington, DC, have implemented some form of a red flag law, according to Everytown for Gun Safety: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

Gun show loophole

gun show
In this Jan. 26, 2013 file photo, a customer looks over shotguns on display at the annual New York State Arms Collectors Association Albany Gun Show at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, New York.

The so-called “gun show loophole” is among the most discussed topics in relation to calls for gun reform advocates for expanded background checks.

“Gun show loophole” is a catch-all phrase referring to the sale of firearms by unlicensed, private sellers at gun shows and other venues — including the internet — without the involvement of background checks. 

Federally licensed gun dealers are required to run background checks, but not all sellers are required to be licensed — laws vary from state to state. In this sense, there is a “loophole” that allows private sellers to sell firearms without conducting background checks. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is the federal agency that licenses gun dealers.

“As a general rule, you will need a license if you repetitively buy and sell firearms with the principal motive of making a profit,” the ATF states. “In contrast, if you only make occasional sales of firearms from your personal collection, you do not need to be licensed.”

The implementation of a federal law requiring universal background checks, or background checks for all gun sales, has been at the top of the wish list for gun control advocates for years.

It’s also a policy that the vast majority of Americans support. According to polling conducted by Pew Research Center in late 2018, 91% of Democrats and 79% of Republicans favor background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows.

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VP Harris tells the GOP to ‘stop pushing the false choice’ that ‘everybody’s trying to come after your guns’ after series of mass shootings

kamala harris
Vice President Kamala Harris

  • Harris told the GOP to “stop pushing the false choice” that “everybody’s trying to come after your guns.”
  • “It has to be possible that people agree that these slaughters have to stop,” she said.
  • Most GOP lawmakers have rejected any calls to strengthen gun-control measures since the shootings.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Vice President Kamala Harris told Republican leaders on Wednesday to stop spreading the “false choice” that “everybody’s trying to come after your guns.”

In an interview with “CBS This Morning” days after a mass shooting in a Boulder, Colorado grocery store that killed 10 people, Harris said that “it has to be possible that people agree that these slaughters have to stop.”

“And this is, again, reject the false choice of – and stop pushing it for sure – stop pushing the false choice that this means everybody’s trying to come after your guns,” she continued. “That is not what we’re talking about.”

The Boulder massacre came just a week after a spree shooting in three Atlanta-area massage parlors that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women. It is also the sixth mass shooting to happen within a 40-mile radius of Colorado Springs since 1999.

In the wake of the Atlanta and Boulder shootings, Democratic lawmakers and gun-control advocates have renewed their calls for stricter regulations around purchasing firearms.

The House of Representatives also recently passed two bills that would close loopholes in the background-check system and make gun transfers between people without licenses illegal. One of the measures was supported by eight House Republicans.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called on the Senate to pass the two House bills and emphasized the toll gun violence has taken on the US.

“While the flag was still flying half-staff” for the victims of the Georgia shootings, “another American city has been scarred by gun violence and resulting trauma,” he said.

“We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again,” he said when addressing the Boulder shooting. “I got that done when I was a senator. It passed, it was the law for the longest time, and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again.”

The US far outstrips any other country in gun ownership, with an estimated 393 million firearms – more than the country’s population. Second in ownership rates is war-torn Yemen, according to a recent global study.

But Republicans, many of whom enjoy strong support from the National Rifle Association and the pro-gun lobby, have sharply pushed back on efforts to strengthen gun-control measures.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence Tuesday that Democrats were engaging in “ridiculous theater” and using mass shootings to take people’s guns away.

“Every time there’s a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders,” Cruz said. “What happens in this committee after every mass shooting is Democrats propose taking away guns from law-abiding citizens because that’s their political objective.”

Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, meanwhile, compared gun violence to drunk driving and gun owners to being Muslim.

“We have a lot of drunk drivers in America that kill a lot of people. We ought to try to combat that too,” he said at the judiciary committee hearing. “The answer is not to get rid of all sober drivers. The answer is to concentrate on the problem.”

He continued: “When a Muslim jihadist blows up a school full of school children, we are often told not to condemn all of the actions of those of the Muslim faith because of the actions of a few. And I agree with that. So why doesn’t the same rule apply to the 100 million-plus gun owners in America who are exercising their constitutional right?”

It wasn’t the first time Kennedy made the comparison.

After the 2017 Las Vegas massacre in which a gunman opened fire on a music festival, killing 59 people and injuring more than 500, Kennedy told TIME Magazine, “When an Islamic terrorist blows up a school with kids in it, we are told not to judge all Muslims by the acts of a few. And I agree with that. So why do we want to judge all 80 million gun owners in America because of the acts of one perverted idiot? I don’t know what else to call him.”

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Ted Cruz says he won’t apologize for ‘thoughts and prayers’ for Colorado shooting victims

Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asks a question during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz said he won’t apologize for “thoughts and prayers” for Colorado shooting victims.
  • Cruz also slammed Democrats for “ridiculous theater” with gun law proposals.
  • In 2018, Cruz was the top recipient of NRA donations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Senator Ted Cruz said he won’t apologize for sending thoughts and prayers to the victims of the Boulder, Colorado supermarket shooting.

“I don’t apologize for thoughts or prayers. I will lift up in prayer people who are hurting and I believe in the power of prayer, and the contempt of Democrats for prayers is an odd sociological thing,” Cruz, a Republican said in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.

He added: “But I also agree thoughts and prayers alone are not enough. We need action.”

The comments come after police said a gunman shot and killed 10 people at a Boulder, Colorado supermarket on Monday.

That shooting came less than a week after a 21-year-old man was accused of killing eight people at three Georgia spas.

In the same hearing, Cruz lashed out at Democrats and alleged they play “ridiculous theater” when proposing gun legislation like universal background checks following mass shootings.

Cruz said the measures would take away guns from “law-abiding citizens.”

“Every time there’s a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders,” Cruz said.

In 2013, Cruz and Sen. Chuck Grassley first introduced the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act, which would have worked to prevent people with criminal records from obtaining guns. They re-introduced the bill in 2019.

Cruz said that bill “targeted at violent criminals, targeted at felons, targeted at fugitives, targeted at those with serious mental disease to stop them from getting firearms and put them in prison when they try to illegally buy guns,” and said proposals made by Democrats take away guns from law-abiding citizens and “not only does it not reduce crime, it makes it worse.”

In 2018, Cruz was also the top recipient of money from the National Rifle Association receiving $309,021 in donations.

Cruz’s office did not reply to Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.

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Pressure is mounting to ditch the filibuster and pass gun reform after back-to-back mass shootings in the US

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Police work on the scene outside a King Soopers grocery store where a shooting took place Monday, March 22, 2021, in Boulder, Colo

  • Calls to end the Senate filibuster have intensified after two mass shootings in one week in the US.
  • Activists say trashing the filibuster is the only way to pass gun reform in the Senate.
  • A growing number of Democrats have voiced their support for filibuster elimination or reform.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After 18 people were killed in two high-profile mass shootings within a week in the US, calls to abolish the filibuster have been intensifying among activists and Democratic politicians as a necessary step to pass gun reform.

Ten people were killed in a Boulder, Colorado, King Soopers grocery store after a gunman opened fire Tuesday afternoon. That tragedy came only one week after a man shot and killed 8 people in three Atlanta-area massage parlors on March 16.

As the country slowly crawls back toward normality after a year of pandemic-related lockdowns, mass shootings – an undeniable reality of American life – seem to be back in full force.

Police said Tuesday Ahmad Alissa, the man charged in the Boulder shooting, bought a semi-automatic rifle less than a week before Monday’s massacre, and in Atlanta, accused gunman Robert Aaron Long allegedly bought the gun he’s suspected of using to murder eight people the day of the shooting.

Neither Colorado nor Georgia has a waiting period when it comes to purchasing firearms. In fact, just 10 US states and Washington, DC, have any type of law requiring a waiting period between the time a person attempts to purchase a gun and when they are able to take possession of the weapon, Insider’s Connor Perrett reported.

The dual tragedies have once again reinvigorated calls for comprehensive, federal gun control. But this time, proponents have zeroed in on a tangible first step: eliminate the filibuster.

Calls to gut the filibuster – the Senate rule that requires 60 votes rather than a simple majority of 51 to pass most legislation – have been ramping up since Democrats took control of Congress in January.

Supporters argue doing so is the only way to push forward a progressive agenda, including an increased minimum wage, student-loan forgiveness, and now, gun control.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted her support for nuking the rule following Monday’s shooting.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Texas politician Julian Castro echoed their support.

Castro told CNN the recent shootings are just one more example of why the country needs “significant filibuster reform” that makes it easier for “effective, meaningful legislation” like gun control to be enacted.

Merkley said if Republicans won’t “get on board” with common-sense gun safety legislation, “we should abolish the filibuster and get it done.”

Democratic rising star and Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman tweeted his support.

And the former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich delivered a concise message.

In a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Tuesday, Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois said Congress’ refusal to pass gun legislation has made it complicit in recent violence, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Even with the Democrats’ narrow control of both chambers, passing any type of gun legislation in the Senate is unlikely. Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans on board in order to bypass the filibuster.

Nuking the filibuster could prove to be an equally insurmountable task as at least two moderate Democratic senators have voiced their opposition to doing so. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia declared earlier this year he would “never” change his mind on the filibuster and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has also said she’s against dismantling the Senate staple.

The growing list of Democratic supporters, however, could mean an opportunity to at least reform the filibuster, rather than abolishing it entirely.

But for the people who suffer the consequences of gun violence, action can’t come soon enough. Fred Guttenberg, a gun-control activist and father of a student murdered in the 2018 Parkland school shooting said the recent gun violence was both predictable and inevitable.

“End the filibuster,” Guttenberg tweeted Tuesday. “Gun safety needs to move forward without them.”

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