April 2002

Monday, April 1st, 2002

In California, pro-gun rights
candidate Bill Simon, Jr. defeated
anti-gun Los Angeles Mayor Richard
Riordan in the Republican
gubernatorial primary. Political
newcomer Simon’s victory came
as a surprising upset. In a poll
taken Jan. 23-27, Riordan had a
33 –point lead over Simon. “But,”
reported USA Today, “Riordan angered
conservatives with his liberal
views on abortion, gay rights
and gun control.” In November,
Simon faces the gun grabbing
incumbent Gov. Gray Davis who
already has built a $35 million war
chest according to the paper.
A t t o r n e y G e n e r a l J o h n
Ashcroft announced plans recently
to curb gun purchases by
illegal immigrants and criminals,
reports The Washington Post.
Ashcroft ordered the FBI and the
Immigration and Naturalization
Service to revamp their computer
systems to identify noncitizens
who try to buy firearms through
federally licensed firearm dealers.
Illegal immigrants and those in
the United States on temporary
visas are prohibited from buying
guns under federal law, although
some can buy firearms for hunting
in some circumstances.
Ashcroft also announced
plans recently to upgrade the nation’s
background check system
to provide immediate approval or
denial for gun purchases in most
cases. Currently, a person is allowed
to buy a firearm if federal
officials do not provide a response
within three days. Ashcroft announced
a $141 million initiative
to help states improve their computerized
criminal records over
the next four years, supposedly to
help weed out felons trying to buy
firearms, and another program
to add 94 federal prosecutors
focused on crimes committed
with guns by juveniles.
In Virginia, the General Assembly
sent Gov. Mark R. Warner
a bill that would practically invalidate
the City of Alexandria’s ban
on guns in city buildings. The bill
would bar localities from adopting
laws or rules for gun use that have
not been expressly authorized by
the state, although governments
could prohibit their employees
from carrying guns into their buildings.
The bill passed overwhelmingly,
26 to 13 in the Senate and 68
to 26 in the House of Delegates.
In Annapolis, MD gun control
advocates rallied at the State
House in March to push for a bill
to require handgun buyers to
get a license similar to a driver’s
license. Ginni Wolf, executive
director of Marylanders Against
Handgun Abuse, and others
called upon legislators to pass
the Maryland Gun Accountability
Act. The measure would require
gun owners to obtain a seal for
their state identification cards or
driver’s licenses signifying approval
to purchase a firearm.
According to the National
Conference of State Legislatures,
in the 1980s, 40 or more states
prohibited concealed weapons.
The first in a “new wave” of concealed
carry laws was passed in
Florida 15 years ago. Since that
time, reports Join Together, a
project of the Boston University
School of Public Health, “gun
advocates have been successful
in overturning laws against carrying
concealed weapons in other
states.” Joe Vernick, co-director
of the anti-gun Johns Hopkins
Center for Gun Policy and Research
in Baltimore, MD, said he
is surprised by the victories. Progun
advocates “have been very
successful in promoting this kind
of change,” he says.
An anti-gun group in late February
asked the nation’s newspapers
to stop accepting
classified ads for the sale of all
guns. Calling itself the National
Campaign to Close the Newspaper
Gun Ad Loophole, the group
consists of several local anti-gun
organizations in several states.
Bryan Miller, executive director of
Ceasefire New Jersey, criticized
The Washington Times for accepting
the classified ads. The
newspaper’s general manager,
Richard Amberg, said that, “Advertising
for guns is still legal to
the best of my knowledge and we
would not knowingly be a part of
anything that contributed to any
illegality.”