OCTOBER 1999

Friday, October 1st, 1999

According to an August 30 -September 2 WASHINGTON POST-ABC News Poll of 1,526 randomly selected adults, 63 percent of the people favor stricter gun control laws in the United States, 35 percent oppose them, and two percent had no opinion.
According to the survey, 90 percent support mandating checks on people buying guns at gun shows; 79 percent favor mandating trigger locks on all stored guns; 77 percent favor a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons; 75 percent support a requirement that all handgun owners register their firearms with the government; 66 percent support a nationwide ban on gun sales by mail order and over the internet; 49 percent support a nationwide ban on people carrying a concealed weapon; and 32 percent support a nationwide ban on the sale of handguns, except to law enforcement officers.

The anti-gun political fallout from the tragedy earlier this year at the Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado continues. “Columbine opened a new era in the gun debate,” said Gov. Michael 0. Leavitt of Utah, a second-term Republican who has fought with his state’s Republican-controlled legislature for tighter gun control, including a measure to prohibit concealed handguns in schools, reports Michael Janofsky in THE NEW YORK TIMES.
“We’re starting to get a sense of proportion,” Governor Leavitt added. “There is a capacity to protect Second Amendment rights, but that does not mean we can’t limit the way guns are used. That dialogue is starting to go on.”
In Illinois, a package of so-called “public safety initiatives,” including mandatory trigger locks on guns to prevent child access, a gun storage law that holds parents accountable for acts of violence committed with a gun by their children, and new penalties for using guns in crimes, including an automatic 15 years added to the prison term of someone who brandishes a gun while committing afelony, 20 moreyears if the gun is fired, and 25 years to life if someone is shot, was signed into law by Gov, George Ryan.
Gov. Ryan also said he would veto any bill thatwould allow Illinois residents to carry a concealed weapon.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Tommy G. Thompson has vowed to veto any CCW bill.
A spokesman for Mayor Dennis W. Archer of Detroit, Michigan acknowledged August 25 that the city had sold retired police service revolvers even as it was suing gun makers, according to an Agence France Presse dispatch appearing in THE NEW YORK TIMES.
“The irony is not lost,” said the spokesman, Greg Bowens, but all weapons confiscated by the police, he added, are destroyed.
The old service revolvers were sold to a company in Vermont, said Bowens, who indicated that the practice was started to raise money for new police weapons.
Detroit has filed a $400 million lawsuit against gun makers and dealers, asserting that they are contributing to a flow of illegal weapons that find their way to criminals on the street.
A well-known California manufacturer of inexpensive handguns has shut its doors, reports Paul M. Barrett in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.
Lorcin Engineering Company, he writes, ceased operation in mid-August, two weeks after James Waldorf resigned as President and a board member.
Lorcin is the second small Southern California manufacturer of inexpensive handguns to take “dramatic action in the wake of municipal litigation against the gun industry,” he added. “In May, rival Davis Industries, Inc. filed for court protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U. S. Bankruptcy Code.
“In another development, Connecticut’s attorney general said he is considering suing the gun industry; several old-line gun makers are based in Connecticut.”
“In a significant setback for the nation’s largest gun show,” reportsTHE NEW YORK TIMES, “Los Angeles County has adopted a law banning the sale of weapons and ammunition on its property.
“The law, approved by the county’s Board of Supervisors, threatens to undermine the core business of the Great Western Gun Show, held four times a year on the county fairgrounds in Pomona, California, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The event draws as many as 2,000 exhibitors and 35,000 visitors and brings the county an estimated $600,000 a year, the largest share of the rent it earns at the fairgrounds.
“‘Our feeling is, the county should not be profiting from the gun business,’ said Zev Yaroslavsky, the county supervisor who sponsored the motion. ‘We shouldn’t be leasing or renting the property for the sale of guns or ammunition of any kind.’
“The measure also bans discussions about firearms sales on county property, which would effectively limit the gun show to a display of weapons and their prices.
” In response, the event’s promoter, Great Western Shows, has vowed to file a lawsuit … that accuses the county of breaching its contract and impinging on constitutionally protected political and commercial speech.
“Great Western Shows said itwould also seek a restraining order to block the county from enforcing the law.
“The company says the county officials who supported the law jumped on a bandwagon that would have little practical effect on crime.”