This week saw another milestone in gun policy: the first “assault weapons” ban passed out of the House Judiciary Committee in decades.
It may be a fleeting accomplishment, though, since it remains unclear if Democrats can wrangle enough votes to push it through to final passage in the House. With the ban reaching new lows in the most recent polling, some Democrats appear squeamish. And, if they do get it through the House, it’s unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate.
The drop in support for a ban on AR-15s and AK47s dovetails with the rise in their popularity. A new report indicates there are now more than 24.4 million in civilian hands. More people own them and, so, fewer people want to ban them.
Concealed carry took center stage this week as well after an armed bystander ended a deadly shooting at a mall in Indiana on Sunday. The man, 22-year-old Eli Dicken, was praised as a hero who saved many lives by most. But some gun-control advocates decried his actions.
Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman breaks down the divergence in reactions in a member-exclusive piece.
We also saw the fallout from the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision continue to rain down across the county. Gun-carry applications are flooding in across the affected states. And lawsuits are moving forward in the new legal landscape.
Plus, the agent who created the FBI’s active shooter report joins the podcast to talk solutions.
“Assault weapons” bans are more unpopular than ever.
Support for the policy has now fallen below 50 percent, according to a poll from Quinnipiac University released on Wednesday. That represents a slight drop from the previous all-time low for the policy set in Quinnipiac’s June poll. It is the third survey from a prominent pollster to identify a drop in support for a ban after the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24th.
The ban still enjoyed a plurality of support, with 49 percent of those polled in favor while 45 percent were opposed. However, it is the only gun-control policy polled in the wake of the Uvalde shooting that has lost support even as support for tightening gun restrictions has increased.
Report: Over 24.4 Million AR-15s, AK-47s in Civilian Hands
By Stephen Gutowski
AR-15s are becoming even more popular.
More than 4.5 million ARs. AKs, and similar rifles were bought by American civilians since the last time their circulation was estimated, according to a new report. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the gun industry’s trade group, found there are now at least 24,446,000 of the guns in civilian hands. It said 2.7 million were produced or imported in 2020 alone–the most for any year on record.
“This is a truly significant figure that demonstrates – again – the popularity of this commonly-owned style of rifle,” Joe Bartozzi, NSSF President, said in a statement. “The firearm industry responds to market demand and this shows that during the elevated period of firearm sales that began in 2020, this particular style of rifle is the top choice for law-abiding citizens for hunting, recreational shooting and self-defense.”
Armed Citizen Shoots, Kills Active Shooter in Indiana Mall
By Jake Fogleman
An armed bystander appears to have intervened to stop an active shooter in Indiana Sunday night, likely saving additional lives.
Authorities say four people are dead, including the suspected attacker, and two others are wounded after an unidentified gunman entered the food court at Greenwood Park Mall in Indiana and opened fire Sunday night. Investigators say the attack was stopped when a 22-year-old “good Samaritan” armed with a handgun fatally wounded the attacker.
“We believe at this time, investigators are still questioning the individual involved, but it appears that a good Samaritan that was armed observed the shooting in progress and shot the shooter,” Jim Ison, the chief of police for Greenwood, Indiana, said at a Sunday night news conference.
In the days following the active shooter incident at Greenwood Park Mall in Indiana, investigators have released clarifying information as to how the attack transpired.
We now know that the armed civilian who intervened in the attack was a 22-year-old Indiana man named Elisjsha Dicken. Dicken stopped the shooter a mere 15 seconds after the attack began when he fired ten rounds from his own handgun, striking the gunman eight times, fatally wounding him.
Three innocent people were tragically killed in the attack, but for the bravery and swift action displayed by Dicken, many others would likely have been killed.
“His actions were nothing short of heroic,” Greenwood Police Chief James Ison said during a news conference on Monday. “He engaged the gunman from quite a distance with a handgun, was very proficient in that, very tactically sound. As he moved to close in on the suspect, he was also motioning for people to exit behind him. He has, to our knowledge, no police training and no military background.”
While Dicken’s actions received praise from local law enforcement and state government officials, some public figures were less willing to praise his actions. A few were even critical, with several leaders of gun-control groups labeling his actions either that of a vigilante or even a criminal.
The divergence is likely because the circumstances surrounding the shooting intersected with several long-standing controversial policies that animate both gun-rights and gun-control advocates. That allowed the opinions of the incident to quickly diverge, revealing much about the state of the gun debate in the process.
In the wake of the Supreme Court gun-carry decision, states who were forced to change their laws are experiencing a massive surge in applicants for permits.
The Court declared restrictive “good reason” standards unconstitutional in last month’s New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, and now the states with similar laws to New York are facing a wave of people seeking permits. The affected states are struggling to keep up with demand as they await new procedures to be developed for handling the flood of requests.
“There has been an increase in inquiries regarding the conditions and procedures for obtaining a concealed carry permit,” Nassau police In New York said in a statement. “We have also experienced a surge of requests for upgrades to full carry permits, and we are waiting for state and local government to enact these new policies”
The Bruen-inspired spike is likely to accurate the recent trend of people seeking gun-carry licenses. The number of concealed handgun permits rose to 21.5 million through the end of 2021, according to a study by the Crime Prevention Research Center. That represented a 48 percent increase since 2016.
New York has drastically expanded its list of gun-free zones without precisely defining them, creating problems for local authorities and gun owners.
In the aftermath of the landmark Bruen decision, New York passed the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, prohibiting all permit holders from carrying in “sensitive locations” ranging from public parks to schools. Confusion ensued because what qualifies as a “sensitive location” is broad and sometimes ill-defined, putting the onus on local authorities to not just enforce the law but also define it.
“There’s going to be challenges,” Oleg Chernyavsky, assistant deputy commissioner of legal matters for the NYPD, told The City. “The existing law for ‘proper cause’ was over 100 years old. Any change to a law that predates all of us is going to be a challenge.”
Gun-rights groups are pushing back against California’s recent law banning any firearm advertising appearing to be “attractive to minors.”
A coalition of gun-rights groups is demanding a pause on the enforcement of the state’s new law as part of a suit announced last week. The coalition, which includes the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on Wednesday to stop the Golden State’s restrictions on firearm advertisements and activities. The groups argued the new law impacts more than just gun advertisements and infringes on both First Amendment and Second Amendment rights.
“It is critical to the success of SAF that its promotional material, publications, and messages about the ‘right to keep and bear arms’ be permitted to reach a broad public audience, including minors and young adults,” Alan Gottlieb, SAF’s founder, said in a statement.
We’ve seen some of the worst acts of mass violence in American history this summer.
That’s why I wanted to bring on an expert in active shooter situations to give some insight into what causes these events and how they might be prevented. There are few people with a better understanding of the situation than the person who created the FBI’s research program on active shooters: Katherine Schweit.
Plus, Contributing Editor Paul Crookston joins the show to talk about the flood of post-Bruen lawsuits.
You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here.
Video of the full episode and clips are also available on our YouTube channel.
Analysis: Will House Democrats Pass an ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban? [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski
The House Judiciary Committee will take up an “assault weapons” ban next week, but do they have the votes to actually pass it? The lift is heavier than it appears on first glance.
H.R.1808 will be marked up and could soon make its way to the House floor. It would ban the sales and manufacturing, though not the possession of, a huge swath of firearms. While it targets AR-15s and AK-47s by name, it would apply to any semi-automatic rifle that can accept detachable magazines and has any one of the banned features such as a pistol grip or adjustable stock.
It also bans swaths of semi-automatic shotguns and handguns as well.
The legislation appears to be on good footing when looking at the number of co-sponsors. It needs 216 votes to pass, and it already has 212 co-sponsors. Adding Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and sponsor David Cicilline (D., R.I.) gets the bill to 214.
However, that count is misleading.
Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.