October 2000

Sunday, October 1st, 2000

Handgun Control, Inc. thinks its work can make gun control “one of the top three or four issues” on which people base their vote in the November 7 elections, HCI’s communications director, Naomi Paiss, stated recently in an article appearing in PR Week.

She reportedly stated also that HCI’s communications strategy could be “radically different” starting on November 8. The publication reported that “a Gore victory, particularly with significant changes in Congress, would embolden HCI to push for closing the loophole on gun sales and perhaps further-reaching proposals. A Bush victory would push HCI to ‘fight ferociously to keep what we’ve got.’”
In California, Assemblyman Jack Scott, conceding that Gov. Gray Davis would not support his gun control proposal this year, has abandoned for now a state bill to require a safety test and a license for handgun owners.

The state Senate already had approved the bill, but Davis announced he would do nothing to advance the bill in the Assembly.

“Based on conversations with the governor’s office, I reluctantly have become convinced that my best chance for seeing this bill become law is to pursue it next year,” said Scott.

Last year, a number of severely restrictive firearm bills were enacted into law in California. Scott’s new bill would have required every Californian who buys a handgun to pass a four-to-eight-hour safety class.
In Maryland, U.S. Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. is criticizing Project Disarm, a program run by U.S. Attorney Lynne Battaglia, as less effective in fighting crime than Project Exile, aimed at making streets safer by prosecuting, under tough federal provisions, virtually all felons caught carrying guns. Battaglia reportedly riled some BATF officials last summer when she said federal prosecutors, rather than BATF agents, could better determine which cases to prosecute under Disarm, which supposedly is more selective than Exile about taking felons with firearms to federal court.
In Virginia, gun control advocates James and Sarah Brady formally endorsed the campaign of anti-gun U.S. Sen. Chuck Robb for reelection. Robb, according to the Washington Post, “has been a consistent supporter of gun control measures, having voted for the Brady Bill, which requires background checks on handgun buyers; for an extension of that law to cover Internet sales of guns; and for the assault weapon ban.”

Robb’s opponent, former Governor George Allen, in 1997 vetoed a bill that would have outlawed guns in Fairfax County’s recreation centers. In 1995, he signed a law that allows qualified Virginians to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons.
About nine out of 10 high school students support such gun control measures as criminal background checks and mandatory trigger locks, according to a survey released in late August.

The same number of students said they favored requiring a safety course and a license to purchase a handgun. Ninety-six percent supported registering firearms when purchased so they could be traced, if “necessary,” said Dennis Gilbert, a sociology professor at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, who designed the survey with his students.

The polling firm Zogby International conducted the nationwide telephone survey during three days in June by calling 1,005 high school sophomores, juniors and seniors.

The Alliance for Justice, an anti-gun coalition of advocacy groups, released the study as part of an anti-gun campaign. The poll, financed by the College’s Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center, had an error margin of plus or minus three percentage points.
In Japan, which U.S. gun grabbers cite as an example of a country with gun control laws which ought to be replicated here, violent crime, including violent crime committed with guns, is on the rise, reports The Washington Post.

Guns, reports the newspaper’s Doug Struck from Tokyo, “play a major role in Japan’s rising rate of violent crime.

“Although Japan has some of the developed world’s most stringent gun restrictions, the number of serious crimes committed with handguns here last year was the highest since the National Police Agency began keeping statistics more than a decade ago. And the rate of gun crimes in the first six months of 2000 promises to exceed that record.

“‘I think the public believes it is safe in Japan,’ said Koichi Sunada, head of a citizens’ anti-gun group in Tokyo. ‘But the situation is changing.’”

“A citizen can buy a hunting rifle, but only after an exhaustive process that includes a lengthy waiting period and a police investigation of the potential buyer’s background. Gun owners overwhelmingly support the tough laws; the Japanese are perplexed at American toleration of easy access to weapons in the face of widespread violence.

“The yazuka are the exception. Experts believe most of the estimated 80,000 underworld members have weapons, and police have been unable or unwilling to dent that figure.”