We reported last week that the confirmation of Dr. Vivek Murthy, President Obama’s surgeon general nominee, was in danger because Murthy has advocated gun safety and linked public health to gun violence. Our reporting now appears to be coming true: According to the New York Times, Dr. Murthy’s nomination is unlikely to come up before November if it goes forward at all.
That the National Rifle Association is poised to scuttle the president’s choice for surgeon general is both depressing and absurd.
Murthy’s nomination passed out of the Senate Health Committee with the unanimous support of the committee’s Democrats and even one Republican – Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk. Since then, Murthy has faced increasing opposition from pro-gun senators, right wing media outlets and the NRA. Their stated opposition stems from a letter Murthy signed as a founder of Doctors for America where he advocated gun safety measures including an assault weapons ban, limits on ammunition sales, and mandatory gun safety training. Dr. Murthy has also opposed bans on doctors discussing gun safety in the home with patients.
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, a likely 2016 presidential contender, has been particularly forceful in his opposition. Paul penned a letter to Majority leader Harry Reid stating that Murthy “has disqualified himself from being surgeon general because of his intent to use that position to launch an attack on Americans’ right to own a firearm under the guise of a public health and safety campaign.”
The NRA has also written a letter strongly opposing the Murthy nomination and announced it would score the confirmation vote. This means a vote for Murthy would count against lawmakers’ pro-gun ratings, placing maximum pressure on vulnerable red state Democrats.
Court denies NRA request to block city’s gun magazine law
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Wednesday denied an emergency request by the National Rifle Association to block enforcement of a Bay Area city’s ordinance that bans gun magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
A court spokesman said Kennedy denied the request without comment. Kennedy oversees emergency appeals from California and eight other Western states.
Sixty-six percent of Sunnyvale voters approved the ban on high-capacity magazines in November. It went into effect on March 6, and since then, anyone with a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds was committing a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, six months in jail or both.
Since 2000, California state law has outlawed the making, selling, giving and lending of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds – but it does not ban possession of such magazines lawfully acquired before 2000. Overall, the state has the toughest gun control laws in the nation.
Sunnyvale and San Francisco took the ban further and passed measures that made possession of high-capacity magazines a misdemeanor crime, moves widely seen as reactions to the 2012 shooting deaths of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
San Francisco’s law, passed by the Board of Supervisors in October and signed by Mayor Ed Lee in November, bans possession of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. It is scheduled to take effect April 7. The Sunnyvale ordinance outlaws use as well as possession of the magazines.
In the ongoing dialog about guns and gun violence in America, one thing consistently comes out: Americans favor background checks for gun purchases. A 2013 Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 91 percent of all Americans, and 71 percent of NRA members support expanded background checks. Yet, congress has done nothing. A likely reason is that the NRA, which used to support background checks, now opposes them. They offer reasons ranging from “they’re an invasion of privacy,” to “they don’t work because criminals don’t submit to background checks.” However, a new study suggests that background checks are a reasonable, effective method of keeping guns out of the wrong hands.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University’s Center For Gun Policy and Research did a study of Missouri, where a background check law was repealed in 2007. They found that since the repeal, there was an increase of between 55 to 63 murders by gun per year from 2008 to 2012. Daniel Webster, lead author of the study, says:
This study provides compelling confirmation that weaknesses in firearm laws lead to deaths from gun violence.There is strong evidence to support the idea that the repeal of Missouri’s handgun purchaser licensing law contributed to dozens of additional murders in Missouri each year since the law was changed.
Missouri’s background check law was effective.
Until 2007, Missouri had a “permit to purchase” background check law. Under the law, someone who wanted to purchase a firearm would visit a local sheriff for a background check. The sheriff would do the check, then issue a “permit to purchase,” which the person could take to the gun dealer of his or her choice to purchase a weapon. This law had been in place since the 1920′s. After the law was repealed, unlicensed sellers no longer needed proof of a background check before a sale.
CENTENNIAL, Colo. — A teenager who may have had a grudge against a teacher opened fire Friday with a shotgun at a suburban Denver high school, wounding a fellow student before killing himself.
Quick-thinking students at Arapahoe High School alerted the targeted teacher, who quickly left the building. The scene unfolded on the eve of the Newtown massacre anniversary, a somber reminder of the ever-present potential for violence in the nation’s schools.
The wounded student, a 15-year-old girl, underwent surgery and was in critical condition. Authorities originally said a second student was wounded, but Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said Friday night that the other girl taken to a hospital was covered in blood from the first student and wasn’t injured.
Robinson identified the shooter as Karl Halverson Pierson, 18. The sheriff did not elaborate on any possible motive except to say Pierson had a “confrontation or disagreement” with the teacher. He didn’t know if the injured girl was intentionally shot.