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CO Ceasefire News:  Supreme Court Upholds IL Assault Weapons Ban, CO Primary Results

Supreme Court Leaves IL
Assault Weapons Ban in Place

On Tuesday, the US Supreme Court denied further review of Illinois’s ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The Court let stand a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision saying the Illinois law follows the long-established principle that lawmakers can limit to the military and law enforcement extremely dangerous weapons not designed or needed for civilian self-defense.

Ten states and the District of Columbia now have bans on the semiautomatic guns often referred to as assault weapons.

The Court’s action followed its rejection two weeks ago, by an 8-1 majority, of Justice Clarence Thomas’ view that gun regulations today must directly match precedents of past centuries. In the Rahini decision, the Court said “we look to underlying principles to determine constitutionality of gun regulations today.” That case was the first gun rights case following the Bruen decision, a landmark ruling two years ago that drastically expanded gun rights. In that case, the majority said that gun laws must be “grounded in historic tradition” to stay on the books.

Supreme Court experts say the decline to review the Illinois decision, as well as another case in which the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals was instructed to reexamine its ruling striking down a longstanding ban on drug users having guns—the gun law under which Hunter Biden was convicted—may signal that the Court has said all it intends to on gun questions for now. 
The court still has, however, another firearm case on its docket for the fall, weighing a Biden administration appeal overregulation of difficult-to-trace ghost guns.

US Surgeon General: Gun Violence
‘Public Health Crisis’ 

For the first time, the U.S. Surgeon General has issued an advisory officially recognizing firearm violence as a critical public health crisis.

Last week, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released a report detailing the toll gun violence takes on the US (pdf) and calling for action to combat it. Among the statistics cited in Dr. Murthy’s report:

  • Gun violence is the leading cause of death for U.S. children and adolescents (ages 1–19)
  • 54% of U.S. adults or their family members have experienced a firearm-related incident
  • 17% have witnessed someone being shot
  • 19% have a family member who was killed by a firearm

Surgeon General Murthy says, “A public health approach can guide our strategy and actions, as it has done in the past with successful efforts to address tobacco-related disease and motor vehicle crashes. It is up to us to take on this generational challenge with the urgency and clarity the moment demands. The safety and well-being of our children and future generations are at stake.”

Primary Night: Moderates, GVP Allies
Take Wins

It was a good night for our gun violence prevention advocates in Democratic primaries last week. Colorado Ceasefire-endorsed candidates did well: 

Colorado Ceasefire solely-endorsed candidates:

  • Rhonda Fields (Arapahoe County Commission) won with 70% of the vote over Hashim Coates;
  • Judy Amabile (SD18 – Boulder) won with 77% of the vote over Jovita Schiffer (there is no Republican running in this district, so Amabile is the likely next Senator there);
  • Mike Weissmann (SD28 – Aurora) won with 53% of the vote over Idris Keith;
  • Sean Camacho (HD6 – Denver) won 63% of the vote over incumbent Elisabeth Epps in a strong Democratic district;
  • Junie Joseph (HD10 – Boulder) won with 59% of the vote over Tiuna Mueh in a strong DEmocratic district;
  • Michael Carter (HD 36 – Aurora) won 62% of the votes over Bryan Lindstrom.

Selected Colorado Ceasefire co-endorsed candidates:

  • Lindsey Daugherty (SD19 – Jeffco) won over Obi Ezeadi with 64% of the vote;
  • Cecilia Espenoza (HD4 – Denver) won over incumbent Tim Hernandez with 54% of the vote;
  • Rebekah Stewart (HD30 – Jeffco) won with 58% of the vote over Kyra DeGruy Kennedy;
  • Jacque Phillips (HD31 – Adams County) won over incumbent Julia Marvin with 55% of the vote;
  • Yara Zokaie (HD52 – Fort Collins) won over Ethnie Treick with 62% of the vote.

Colorado Ceasefire Legislative Action’s Eileen McCarron says the general pundit consensus is that outside money played a big part in some of these races, with the money on the more moderate candidates. The same tilt towards moderation was seen in both Republican and Democratic races, where some of the ultra-right, and many endorsed by the Colorado Republican party (including Colorado GOP Party Chair Dave WIlliams), had their hats handed to them in their primaries.

Nebraska Shootings Bring Focus
on Hate Crimes, Gun Laws

The June 28 shooting of seven people of Guatemalan descent at a Crete, Neb. home, by a neighbor who previously had reportedly told the victims to “go back where [they] came from,” has highlighted the increasing prevalence of hate crimes in the U.S. and the roles guns play in them. 

Research shows hate-fueled violence is on the rise: In an average year, more than 25,000 hate crimes involve a firearm — nearly 70 a day. 

Current laws do not adequately address the problem. While Nebraska has a law prohibiting people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing or possessing guns, over the past two years the state has introduced legislation to repeal background checks and enact a shoot-first policy—steps critics say give people with racist and extremist views easier access to guns, and which foster a culture of extremism.

And while all felonies prohibit someone from purchasing or possessing a firearm under federal law, most misdemeanors, including hate crime misdemeanors, do not. Hate crime misdemeanors can be serious, violent acts, but under federal law, a hate crime misdemeanor conviction does not prohibit someone from buying or having a gun. In addition, more than half of the states in this country (including Colorado) do not have laws closing this gap.

The shootings also reflect the disproportionate toll guns take on Latinx people: Each year, nearly 5,000 Latinx people die from gun violence in the United States—an average of 14 deaths every day—and 13,300 are shot and wounded. Nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths among Latinx people in the United States are homicides, and Latinx people are twice as likely to die by gun homicide and four times as likely to be wounded by an assault with a gun as white people.

Delaware Enacts
Handgun Purchaser Licensing Law

A purchaser licensing bill, sometimes referred to as permit-to-purchase, has been signed into law by Del. Gov. John Carney. When enacted, the law will require those who seek to purchase a handgun, unless they have a valid Delaware concealed carry permit, to submit fingerprints, undergo a more thorough criminal background check, and complete safety training that includes live fire. 

Delaware joins a growing list of 10 other states plus the District of Columbia that have passed firearm purchaser licensing laws. Supporters say permitting requirements increase accountability among both buyers and sellers; research shows that licensing can also have positive impacts across state lines, reducing the likelihood of illegal transfers and firearms trafficking.

“In almost every aspect of our lives, people must undergo some version of training: to operate machinery, for medical purposes, to drive, to serve alcohol, and many other activities,” said Delaware House Majority Leader Melissa Minor-Brown. “Requiring people who want to buy a firearm to take a training course isn’t some undue burden; it’s basic common sense to learn how to safely load, use and store a lethal weapon, which will make both the gun owners and the public safer.”

Register to Vote!

The primaries are over, but it’s not too soon to make sure you are properly registered and ready to vote this November. If you are receiving this newsletter, you probably already know what a critical time this is for gun violence prevention legislation at the federal, state and local levels. As we have seen from recent Supreme Court decisions, your vote for candidates who support common-sense gun laws—and spreading the word among people you know—is more important now than ever. Register to vote here.

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