League calls for common–sense gun control


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Since December, our national attention rightly has been focused on the shooting deaths of 20 elementary school students and six adults in Newtown, Conn. But deaths from gun violence are not limited to that tragic event.

In our country, 34 victims are murdered with guns every day. Deaths from traffic accidents are dropping, while firearm-related fatalities are rising. Americans are more likely to use a firearm in acts of violence than in 16 other developed nations. Gun violence rose 43 percent in Cedar Rapids last year; 22 people were shot, and two died from their injuries.

The Leagues of Women Voters of the U.S. and Iowa have long-standing positions reached by consensus of our members in support of commonsense gun control.

The group’s board in Johnson County has reviewed these positions and is in agreement that the time is long overdue to enact sensible gun laws that protect the public. Public opinion (51-84 percent as polled by Roper in January) is calling for action. The state and city of New York have quickly adopted strengthened laws.

In Iowa, Johnson County legislators do not expect the Legislator to take much action, despite new Iowa laws passed in 2011 weakening discretion of county sheriffs in issuing gun permits and allowing open carry of hand guns and long guns. Some local sheriffs believe this has resulted in gun permits being issued to questionable applicants. Somehow strengthening gun-control laws does not appear on lists of the top priorities of our Legislature.

If you think our state legislators should look at gun control issues, attend one of the League legislative forums held on the last Saturday of each month. Check our website for details and contact information for Johnson County legislators: http://lwvjc.org.

On Jan. 15, the president adopted 23 executive orders addressing improved data collection for background checks for gun permits, improved mental-health measures, a permanent director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, startup of basic research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on gun violence as a public-health issue (long blocked by Congress and the gun lobby), and many others.

The president has called on Congress to require background checks on all gun sales, reinstate a ban on assault weapons (which expired in 2004), limit the size of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, prohibit armor-piercing bullets, confirm his appointment of a permanent director for the firearms bureau (also long blocked by Congress and the gun lobby).

There are many things the public can do to influence strengthening of gun controls. The League of Women Voters urges measures to ban assault weapons, limit magazine size, close the loophole for buying guns without a background check at gun shows, and mandate annual reporting on gun violence in America.

If you agree, please contact our representatives in Congress about these or any of the other proposals mentioned above: Rep. Dave Loebsack, 351-0789; Sen. Tom Harkin, 1-319-365-4504; Sen. Charles Grassley, 1-319-363-6832.

Carol Spaziani, Vice President,
Barbara Beaumont, President
Writing on behalf of the Board of Directors of the League of Women Voters of Johnson County

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