Baltimore gun violence summit concludes with recommendations

McClatchy NewspapersJanuary 15, 2013 

The Summit on Reducing Gun Violence in America at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. concluded Tuesday with a series of wide-ranging, research-based recommendations to curb gun violence that will go to members of Congress and the Obama administration for consideration.

"The purpose of putting forth these recommendations is to provide a research-based framework for reducing the staggering toll of gun violence in America," said summit organizer Daniel Webster, director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Importantly, most recommended policies have broad public support and would not violate constitutional rights."

The proposals come as media reports suggest President Obama will issue his own gun-control proposals on Wednesday.

The summit proposals, developed by more than 20 leading gun-policy experts, call for fixing the system of background checks by:

* Establishing a universal background check system which would require a background check for all persons purchasing a firearm (Inheritance exception).

* All sales would be facilitated through a federally-licensed gun dealer. This would have the effect of mandating the same record keeping for all firearm transfers.

* Increase the maximum amount of time for FBI to complete a background check from 3 to 10 business days.

* Require all firearm owners to report the theft or loss of their firearm within 72 hours of becoming aware of its loss.

* Persons who have a license to carry a firearm must still be subject to a background check when purchasing a firearm.

To keep high-risk people from buying guns, experts at the summit want make it more difficult through these measures:

* Persons convicted of a violent misdemeanor would be prohibited from firearm purchase for a period of 15 years.

* Persons who have committed a violent crime as a juvenile would be prohibited from firearm purchase until age 30.

* Persons convicted of 2 or more crimes involving drugs or alcohol within a 3 year period would be prohibited from firearm purchase for a period of 10 years.

* Persons convicted of a single drug trafficking offense would be prohibited from gun purchase.

* Persons whom a judge determines to be a gang member would be prohibited from gun purchase.

* Establish a minimum age of 21 years for handgun purchase or possession.

* Persons who have violated a restraining order issued due to the threat of violence (including permanent, temporary and emergency) are prohibited from purchasing firearms.

To tighten rules for gun buyers with mental health problems, the summit participants call for:

* Federal restrictions of gun purchase for persons with serious mental illness should be focused on the level of danger the the individual presents.

* Fully fund federal incentives for states to provide information about disqualifying mental health conditions to the National Instant Check System for gun buyers.

To shore up laws for licensed gun dealers:

* A permanent director for the Bureau of Alcohol, tobacco and Firearms should be appointed and confirmed.

* ATF should be required to provide adequate resources to inspect and otherwise engage in oversight of federally licensed gun dealers.

* Restrictions imposed under the Firearm Owners Protections Act limiting ATF to one routine inspection of gun dealers per year should be repealed.

* Provisions of the Firearm Owners Protection Act raising the evidentiary standard for prosecuting dealers who make unlawful sales should be repealed.

* ATF should be granted authority to develop a range of sanctions for gun dealers who violate gun sales or other laws.

* The Protection of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act, providing gun dealers and manufacturers protection from tort liability, should be repealed.

* Federal restrictions on access to firearms trace data, other than for ongoing criminal investigations, should be repealed.

* Federal law mandating reporting of multiple sales of handguns should be expanded to include long guns.

* Adequate penalties are needed for violations of the above provisions.

Other recommendations addressed personalized guns, assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and research funding:

* Congress should provide financial incentives to states to mandate child-proof or personalized guns.

* The Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission should be granted authority to regulate the safety of firearms and ammunition as consumer products.

* Ban the future sale of assault weapons, incorporating a more carefully crafted definition to reduce the risk -- compared with the 1994 Ban -- that the law can be easily evaded.

* Ban the future sale and possession of large capacity (greater than 10 rounds) ammunition magazines.

* Federal government should provide funds to CDC, NIH and NIJ adequate to understand the causes and solutions of gun violence, commensurate with its impact on the public's health and safety.

* The Surgeon General should produce a regular report on the state of the problem of gun violence in America and progress towards solutions.

The recommendations represent the consensus of summit participants, but every expert may not have endorsed each specific proposal.

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