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How to tackle gun violence: 5 things liberal groups want

As Vice President Biden has prepared his recommendations on alleviating US gun violence, he has talked to several interested parties. Here is what key liberal advocates are seeking.

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CAP endorsed a proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California that would halt the “sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition feeding devices.” In other words, it would freeze ownership of weapons like that used in the Newtown, Conn., massacre at its current level. Feinstein and other Democratic Senators plan to introduce legislation to this effect early in the new session of Congress.

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Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D) of Connecticut told reporters on Monday that she was introducing legislation to offer a $1,000, refundable tax credit for each of the next two years to encourage owners of assault weapons to turn them in to local authorities.

But reducing access to guns of any kind raises the hackles of conservative groups like the National Rifle Association, whose head vowed over the weekend that liberals simply don’t have the votes for such an assault weapons restriction.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas, a freshman, told PBS’ Judy Woodruff that he would fight any such legislation.

“I intend to help lead the fight to stop Senator Dianne Feinstein's bill to pass aggressive gun control,” Senator Cruz said last week. “It's misguided policy. If you look at the jurisdictions with the strictest gun control laws, almost without exception, they have the highest crime rates and the highest murder rates. If you look at the jurisdictions that most vigorously protect our right to keep and bear arms, almost without exception, they have the lowest crime rates and the lowest murder rates.”

3. Get better gun data

In addition to making sure dangerous or violent Americans can’t get their hands on weapons, and potentially limiting access to assault weapons, the next most frequent complaint is about a simple thing: information.

Liberal lawmakers say the gun lobby’s innate fear of the federal government collecting data about guns or gun users manifests itself in restrictions on research into weapons and their impact on society.

Among the restrictions Democrats would like to strike down are limits on the use of so-called “trace data,” which show the initial sale of a weapon, and requirements that federal agencies destroy completed background checks within a day, saying the checks would allow authorities to pinpoint “straw purchasers” who help criminals circumvent gun laws.

Democrats would also like to allow the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health free reign to study public health and safety issues relating to firearms.

Regarding the CDC and NIH, there is “nothing legally that says you can’t collect this data, but [fear of losing funding] has over these years had a very chilling effect” on investigation of the subject, said Representative DeLauro said. “These agencies are limited in the funding that they receive, so if they’re going to be engaged in something that’s controversial that’s [potentially] going to lead to precluding resources and funds that they may have, they may not want to move in that direction.”

4. Put ATF under jurisdiction of the FBI

Perhaps the structure of government is impeding the ability of federal agents to pursue violent criminals and gun crimes. CAP proposes moving the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) – which has gone without a permanent head for over two years as Republicans and the NRA criticize the potential director as insufficiently pro-gun – under the FBI.


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