Gun control put on US ballots

Linda Beigel Schulman shows a photo of the 17 students and staff members killed by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz during Wednesday’s trial in Florida. On February 14, 2018, Cruz was sentenced to life in prison for killing 17 people. AMY BETH BENNETT/POOL/REUTERS

Mass shootings bring the issue of the right to ‘bear arms’ to the forefront of elections

Gun control is emerging as a major issue in some states as voters head to the polls in the US midterm elections on Tuesday.

Andrew Willinger, executive director of the Center on Firearms Law at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, said Iowa and Oregon have measures on the ballot that are expected to have a direct impact on gun ownership.

If the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Amendment receives a majority vote in Iowa, it would add the right to keep and bear arms to the state constitution and require courts to scrutinize violations of this right.

In Oregon, voters will decide the fate of Initiative 17, which, if passed, would require prospective gun buyers to obtain a permit before doing so and would also ban large-capacity ammunition magazines, Willinger said.

In addition, he said, current and proposed gun laws will play a major role in closely watched gubernatorial races in Texas and New York.

In Texas, where the third deadliest school shooting in U.S. history occurred in May at Robb Elementary School in the town of Uvalde, Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott will face his challenger, Democrat Beto O’Rourke, in Tuesday’s election. .

After the Uvalde shooting, in which 19 students between the ages of 9 and 11 and two teachers were gunned down, Abbott focused on mental health issues and school safety rather than lax gun control. He has been criticized for signing legislation allowing people to carry guns without a permit. O’Rourke, a staunch supporter of stronger gun regulation, has pledged to repeal the legislation if elected.

Willinger said Abbott and O’Rourke disagree on measures such as restricting the sale of semi-automatic weapons to certain age groups.

Age of purchase

The gunman in the Uvalde shooting bought two AR-15 rifles after he turned 18, the legal purchasing age in Texas.

Just a month after the Uvalde massacre, on June 23, the US Supreme Court struck down New York state’s concealed carry law, which required a person to show “good cause” before being able to carry concealed weapons in public.

In response, the state’s governor, Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, signed legislation to strengthen gun control, including a stricter permit process for concealed carry permits and a ban on carrying concealed weapons in “sensitive places” such as schools, parks, and libraries. , Government Buildings and Mass Transportation.

Hochul’s Republican challenger, Congressman Lee Zeldin, argues that New Yorkers should have the right to safely carry firearms. He has also opposed new gun restrictions in Hochul, including the creation of “gun-free zones.”

The Supreme Court decision set “a historic standard for judging gun regulations under the Constitution,” Willinger said. He said it indicates that the courts will play a more prominent role than politicians in gun laws in the future.

“Even if the midterm elections lead to new gun regulations in some states, we can expect legal challenges to those laws.”

About 62 percent of nonpartisan voters polled by the Pew Research Center in August said gun policy was very important to their vote. More than 100 TV ads by Republican candidates and support groups have included guns in an effort to galvanize their base during the campaign, according to the New York Times. Democrats are less likely to raise the issue, it said.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 581 mass shootings in the United States this year.

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