Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

How do gun rights backers view gun control after Newtown?

Robert A. Levy was a driving force behind the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court struck down the District's gun laws and recognized an individual right to keep and bear arms. Not only was he one of the lawyers on the case, but he also personally funded the litigation. Levy, who is also chairman of the board of the D.C.-based Cato Institute, spoke with The Washington Post recently. What does the defender of gun rights think of the talk about new gun regulations in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., shootings? You might be surprised. Below are edited excerpts.

On banning high-capacity ammunition magazines

I can imagine a shop owner in the midst of a riot and he says he needs multiple rounds to protect his store and his family. I can also imagine the multi-victim killings like we had in Newtown, where there's a reasonable argument that innocent lives might have been saved if these magazines had been banned and if the ban had been effective. So I think if government can show . . . the benefits of banning high-capacity magazines, then I have no doubt that such a ban would survive a court challenge.

There are three problems that occur to me. One is that homemade magazines are easy to assemble; it's just a box with a spring. The second is there is not any effective way to confiscate maybe 25 million high-capacity magazines that are now in circulation. And third, a significant number of existing firearms are configured for 12- to 19-round magazines. So I think a ban on any size of less than 20 rounds would meet with great, great resistance. All of that said, I don't share the NRA's view that we shouldn't consider a ban on high-capacity magazines. I think a ban on magazines of 20 rounds and above seems to me to be reasonable.

On banning assault weapons

We had an assault weapons ban from 1994 to 2004. The New York Times, after the ban expired, reported that despite dire predictions that the streets would be awash in military-style guns, expiration of the assault weapons ban has not set off a sustained surge in sales or caused any noticeable increase in gun crime. There are, of course, millions of these so-called assault weapons, and they're used by millions of Americans for all sorts of things, including hunting, self-defense, target shooting, even the Olympics. Criminals use handguns because assault weapons are expensive and they're difficult to conceal.

Now, "the Supreme Court" said that the Second Amendment would likely pose no barrier to outlawing weapons that are not in common use and are especially dangerous. And we have proof of that because fully automated weapons, like machine guns, have been essentially banned since 1934.

I don't consider myself an expert on the technical features of firearms, and so I'm not prepared to say exactly which weapons would go on the list and which shouldn't, but I think experts should be able to come up with a pretty good list - obviously not needed for self-defense, obviously dangerous, not in common use. And that would be the new assault weapons ban.

On the "slippery slope"

The NRA and the gun lobby had argued that each new gun regulation was a step down this slippery slope, leading ultimately to confiscation. . . . That clearly is what some radicals among gun controllers had in mind. But this is a new environment now. I think ⅛the Supreme Court's decisions⅜ have taken the slippery slope argument pretty much off the table because ⅛the court⅜ has now established - for the first time ever - some hard-and-fast rules. There's some wiggle room in those rules, to be sure. But at least we do know now that there's an individual right to defend yourself, and a wholesale ban on a type of weapon that does have self-defense utility and that is in common use is not going to be permitted by the Supreme Court.

On gun registration

Criminals don't register firearms. I mean, what the heck? Why would a guy who's not deterred by a law against murder be deterred by a law that says he has to register a firearm? It's only law-abiding citizens who register weapons, so I'm pretty skeptical about the value of registration.

On the other hand, I'm not adamant about resisting it. Again, I think the burden is on government to come up with some evidence that it improves public safety, and so far they haven't met that burden.

On the "gun show loophole'

Survey data suggest that less than 2 percent of guns used by criminals are bought at gun shows and flea markets, and that includes the sales through "federally" licensed dealers at gun shows. The public doesn't really realize this, but . . . not all sales at gun shows escape background checks. It's only private sales. If I go to a gun show and sell my weapon to you, then there's no background check. But if a dealer sells a weapon to you at a gun show, then the same background check has to occur that occurs if he sells it out of a store. And any dealers - retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers - have to be federally licensed. . . . If technology facilitated truly speedy background checks - and by that I mean 24 hours max - and if there was some reasonable assurance that privacy rights weren't being violated, then I'd have no objection to extending "background checks" to cover private sales at gun shows. It's not because I'm convinced that they would do any good. But I think it would get us past this particular debate and let us address options that might be more effective, including earlier detection and treatment of mental illness and, frankly, the NRA's proposal, which I think is a good idea, for armed guards at school.

On federal background checks

The one thing that's pretty clear is that the existing background information database is not being provided the information it needs to keep the weapons away from mentally deranged people. Whether that information is so intrusive that it does create civil liberties problems I'm not prepared to say, because I don't know enough about the subject. But I add, though, that I do think this is not a legitimate function of the federal government. I think this is part of a state's police power, which includes protecting residents against rights-violating activities, such as the criminal use of firearms.

Comments
Lightning re-signs goaltender Eddie Pasquale to two-way deal

Lightning re-signs goaltender Eddie Pasquale to two-way deal

The Lightning re-signed goaltender Eddie Pasquale to a one-year, two-way contract general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.Pasquale, 27, split this past season between the Syracuse Crunch and Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League. He...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays drop three of four in New York

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays drop three of four in New York

The Rays lose three of four games in New York as Rick Stroud says they fail to figure out the Yankees' pitching. With Christian Arroyo injured, they activate Adeiny Hechavarria — one of the stars of Sunday's win — from the disabled list a...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Florida authorities identify remains of man missing 3 years found under backyard concrete slab

Florida authorities identify remains of man missing 3 years found under backyard concrete slab

TAVARES — Florida authorities say they’ve identified the man whose remains were found under a concrete slab in his wife’s backyard.Lake County sheriff’s deputies announced Friday that the remains are those of Michael Shaver, who hadn’t been seen in t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

ST. PETERSBURG — Edward White Hospital, closed four years ago because of declining revenues, has been sold to developer Grady Pridgen for $2.7 million.Pridgen is the second developer to see potential in the hospital site at the 2300 block of 9th Aven...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Clearwater and Tampa want to turn flushed water into drinking water. Is it safe?

Clearwater and Tampa want to turn flushed water into drinking water. Is it safe?

Twenty years ago some people called it "Twerp." Others, wrinkling their noses, called it "toilet-to-tap," or something more vulgar.In 1998, Tampa tried to boost its drinking water supply by supplementing it with treated wastewater, calling the progra...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

A St. Petersburg teen, 16, and her unborn child were killed Sunday night in a crash in Pasco County, according to a release from the Florida Highway Patrol. Emily Pearson was killed on Little Road at 9:11 p.m. She was a passenger in a 1997 Ford Rang...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

A St. Petersburg teen, 16, and her unborn child were killed Sunday night in a crash in Pasco County, according to a release from the Florida Highway Patrol. Emily Pearson was killed on Little Road at 9:11 p.m. She was a passenger in a 1997 Ford Range...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Forecast: Hot and humid across Tampa Bay, with potentially wet weekend

Forecast: Hot and humid across Tampa Bay, with potentially wet weekend

Summer officially doesn’t start for another three days, but that won’t stop the searing temperatures and stifling humidity from making for a hot and sticky week across Tampa Bay. Temperatures will climb well into the 90s — and feel...
Updated: 2 hours ago
A sports story that we all can love

A sports story that we all can love

When we think of sports — hard-nosed, competitive sports — what words immediately come to mind? Tenacity. Grit. Guts. Perseverance. Courage. Intensity. Determination. You get the idea. Sports are usually cutthroat, give no quarter, sho...
Updated: 4 hours ago