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Live Blog: The Gun Control Debate

Flikr Creative Commons / velkr0

There has been a national debate over gun control since the school massacre in Newtown, Conn. nearly a month ago.

President Barack Obama has backed a proposal to reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons.

The Exchange tackled the gun control debate on Friday morning's show. It was the final installment of a three-day series looking at possible lessons from Newtown.

State Rep. J.R. Hoell, a Dunbarton Republican and State Rep. Stephen Shurtleff, a Penacook Democrat, took part in the discussion.

John Kirkpatrick, co-director of Justice Works at UNH, and Bob Lee, owner of Lee's Gun Shop in Hudson, also took part.

The following is from a live blog of the discussion:

9:56: Hoell on action from Washington, “No action out of Washington, this was not something delegated to the federal government.” We are an independent state, “It’s not in their domain to work in.”

Shurtleff: “I think something positive will come out of the Biden commission.”  

9:52: Shurtleff on gun restrictions, In Newtown, shooter was using high-capacity clip in an M-16, “What that man had in Newtown was a weapon for war; that should not be in civilians’ hands.”     

9:49: Hoell on limits to access of high-powered weapons, “They have been restricted,” this is not the issue; goes back to having a criminal justice system so people are not released early. New Hampshire has one of the best set of gun laws. 

9:45: Kirkpatrick on types of guns in these mass shootings, “Most often they are semi-automatic weapons,” but the larger share of gun homicides in the US are with handguns. Any common ground in debate? “There are elements that the left and the right can agree upon,” securing rights but also addressing opportunities people have to use these high-capacity weapons.

9:44: John Kirkpatrick, co-director of JusticeWorks at UNH, “We know that about 70 percent of all criminal homicides in the United States are committed with a firearm.” That’s concerning, but homicide rate has also been declining for the past 20 years.

9:41: Shurtleff on repealing “stand your ground” law, “I’m not anti-gun,” but this law was trying to solve a problem that didn’t exist. “We had a law on the books…the castle doctrine.” Under stand your groud, this did a person the right to use deadly force anywhere they have a right to be, we should go back to castle doctrine.

9:36: Hoell on difficulty of deciding who is going to do something, Our concern is people who had issues in the past and had been prescribed medications will be banned from owning a firearm for the rest of their lives. “Taking away the rights of the law abiding” is not a solution.

Shurtleff: “We don’t want to demonize people with mental illness.”   

9:31: Lee, “You can’t blame tools for what individuals do.” In a drunk driving case, you go after the person, not the car maker. “Banning guns is not going to make a bad guy a good guy.”

9:28 Lee: I’ve turned down people before, I have a responsibility as a gun dealer, “I judge a lot of people whether they can stand there and look me in the eye.”  

9:25: Bob Lee, owner of Lee’s Gun Shop in Hudson, Right now what happens at the gun shows, the law only applies to hand guns, in private transactions with other guns, I can sell to whoever I want. “At least if you’re required to sell a gun you have to go through a dealer, that person would have to go through a background check.”  

9:22: Hoell: There are dealers registered by the federal government at gun shows, they have to do background checks. “Time and time again, additional background will not solve this,” they will go off into the black market and get what they need, the more we’ll drive the black market.

Shurtleff: “We can make a difference with laws,” something that needs to happen at the federal level. I can bring guns to a gun show, sell them to private individuals, and I don’t know their background. “That’s my concern, it’s a double standard.”

Hoell: According to NH statutes, you’re not free to sell to whoever you wish, you can only sell to a personally known to you.” “If someone wants to do harm, they’re going to find a means of doing harm.”  

9:17: Hoell on making sure guns don’t end up in hands of the “bad guys,” The issue is we’re trying to take away firearms, but the issues will not be solved, they will be made worse; we’re handing out medications and these people go from being stable to unstable very quickly.

Shurtleff: “We know we have a problem in New Hampshire with mental health.” The issue is who is going to gun shows and buying these guns in private sales, something we need to address.

9:13: Shurtleff on arming teachers, “It’s just adding fuel to the fire,” not the responsibility of the teacher to carry a firearm in the classroom. “I’m surprised that the NRA should come out and make a statement like that. “It’s adding to the problem, not solving it.”

Hoell: Let’s look at other countries like Israel, “They don’t have the same gun violence in the schools.” They either hire staff or allow teachers to carry. If we go through all of these mass murders, all but the Giffords shooting has been in gun-free zones.

9:10: Shurtleff: We’re all shocked by the tragedy in Newtown, but if there’s a silver lining, it’s a renewal of the discussion of gun safety.

Hoell: It grieves me for the loss of those lives, but we forbid the staff of the school by law from protecting themselves.

On universal background checks: Hoell, “This is them trying to close what has been fictitiously known as the gun show loophole.” There is no loophole. Reducing magazine size would not help.

Shurtleff: Universal background checks are a step in the right direction. “With rights come responsibilities.”