January 22nd, 2013
05:47 PM ET

Red states and guns

By Libby Lewis, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) - The school shooting in Newtown has put guns on the front burner in some states, as well as with President Obama.

New York and Maryland may have grabbed recent headlines for taking a tough stance on guns, but they’re heavily Democratic states.

It’s a different story in red states – and purple states.

Attitudes are shifting in Virginia, home of the National Rifle Association. A recent poll by Quinnipiac University showed most Virginians are in favor of requiring background checks for buyers at gun shows. That’s not the law now.

But in the Virginia legislature, the pro-gun rights folks have a lot of friends.

A House panel flat out killed a number of gun restriction bills last week. And a House delegate just proposed a bill to try to bar Virginia from helping the federal government carry out any “investigation, prosecution, detention, arrest, search, or seizure” that would “infringe on the individual right to keep and bear arms…”

People on both sides of the gun issue showed up in Richmond on Monday to lobby lawmakers during an annual lobbying event.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League – whose motto is, “Defending Your Right to Defend Yourself" – had dozens of supporters there, some of them motivated by Newtown to lobby their cause for the first time.

Among the pro-gun crowd were a number of women, and a young interracial couple – in their 20s – both college grads. At a meeting of the Virginia Citizens Defense League to plan for the lobbying trip, there was a guy in a business suit, a State Department employee, an intelligence analyst and a videographer.

Bruce Jackson’s on the board of directors for the group:

[2:10] "Basically, a lot of people think when you go to a gun show, all you’re gonna see is mouth-breathing, camo-wearing, red-necked, fat, old, white guys driving pickup trucks. And that’s not true. Basically, it’s a big swath of humanity."

Dozens of folks also showed up to lobby for gun restrictions – some of them for the first time – because of Newtown.

Rebecca Caffrey is working with a group called One Million Moms for Gun control – it was formed after Newtown to push for background checks, an assault weapons ban and other restrictions. She asked the group in Richmond for help – beyond just "liking" the group on Facebook:

[4:45] "We have a lot of very passive supporters and we need people who will actually show up."

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soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. BR

    Having a gun for home or self defense is understandable. Deciding what type of gun that should be is a problem. Every situation is different, but like with all things people will tend to get more than they need.
    Gun manufacturers, like car and coffee machine, and clothes manufacturers will try to sell you as much as they can, because in the end they are interested in making as much money as possible. Every added feature means more money. High end products get more profit per item and help cover costs of producing more numerous lower end models. We don't like to be told we can't have a 20-round mag, even though a 7-round mag might be perfectly suitable for defending ourselves. Instead of becoming proficient at making 7 rounds count, we'd rather buy four or five guns with long barrels, combat sights, lights, and double 30-round magazines – just in case. Because, we can.

    Gun owners will say "people are the problem, not guns". I will say if people have guns, they will use them. If they don't have guns, they cannot use them. We are all more afraid of being "out-gunned", than looking at what caused the "bad" person to pick up a gun in the first place. Much like our healthcare industry, we love to put money into treatment, but resist putting money into prevention. I say we wouldn't need to keep out-gunning the "bad" guys if we cut the number of and lethality of the guns we have now. We kill ourselves and our family members, and people we know at a greater rate than we kill "bad" guys. Instead of talking, we shoot. Legal or not-so-legal gun owners allow excessive amounts of weapons to be lost, stolen or misused. The "bad" guys get guns because we let them.

    Which gets back to the point that the guns are there. We allow them to be manufactured even when they are not needed. Oh, wait-we do need them. We need them to out-gun the last batch we made that the "bad" guys have now. If there's money to be made, it's all good. Again, if the guns are not there, they can't be used by "bad" or "good" guys.

    Why do we give the NRA so much power? They do not represent gun owners or American individual rights as much as they represent the manufacturers. The gun industry is happy to let the NRA cover them, and pay them handsomely for it. Let's let the industry answer the question of why we need so many weapons for one, then why so many with such high rates of fire and such high ammunition capacities and such long-range effectiveness.

    What are we afraid of, people? If we are afraid of our government or of "bad" guys, there are things you can do other than making sure you have more guns than the next guy. Look at the causes of why we are reaching for guns. Guns beget guns. Every gun we put out there is a gun that is potentially going to be pointing at us. If we need them, we will be able to get them. Truly ask yourself, what do I need and why, not what can I buy, just because I can.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. Joseph Pham

    American this is our country if you can not stay under our constitution and get out USA

    January 29, 2013 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
  3. erguntok1931

    Second amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791. At the time guns was single shut with a flint! Even Smith & Wesson came around in mid 1800’s. In 1700’ west was just opening and new settlers, needing protection from Native Americans and from each other, had to carry guns. Today assault weapons used by the military are mass annihilation weapons. Tomorrow and very soon, if germ and deadly gas throwing guns is made, is second amendment will justify them too? Are atomic bombs in small packages will be protected by the same amendment! There must be a limit to desire to destruct and exploit. Defenders of the second amendment and NRA are twisting and using the spirit of the amendment to obtain endless gain to wealth in spite of the destruction that will come with these weapons. Nobody objecting to keep at home a handgun even a shut gun for personal protection, at the level the amendment was written in 1791. Beyond that, desiring to have assault weapons at home and at a person’s possession is an addiction that should be treated as a sickness.
    Ergun Tok

    January 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • J Will

      Mr. Ergontok,

      You make a comparison between the need for guns by the early populance of our country, but if you had watched several hours of documentary today on the Revolutionary war, you would realize that the people of the time were in fear of Government arms being used against them as those people were usually using inferior weapons to defend their freedom and rights.
      Then you go on to say that "Today assault weapons used by the military are mass annihilation weapons. Tomorrow and very soon, if germ and deadly gas throwing guns is made, is second amendment will justify them too?..."
      First of all the term "assault weapons", as defined by the military and gun experts, refers to fully automatic weapons such a Thompson 1927 or "Tommy Gun" and does NOT apply to AR15's and many many other semi-automatic guns that are sold and owned by MILLIONS of responsible gun owners. The line between the media bad boy AR15 and many guns that are not banned by name is such a fine line that legislators have not been able to put into words a way to ban this gun without banning many other less "offensive" guns short of banning it by name.
      For example SIG makes a gun that is nearly identical the the Armalite AR15 except that it has a wood stock instead of a black plastic stock. Feinstein's bill says the SIG very is OK, while the Armalite version is banned by name...almost no practical difference....

      You further go on to say,"Nobody objecting to keep at home a handgun even a shut gun for personal protection,...." I'm sorry sir, but you are quite wrong there. The City of Chicago tried to ban exactly that and handguns are the ultimate target of many gun control proponents. After after all, the most common type of gun that criminals choose to use is not the semi-automatic "assault" rifle, but the handgun....and the stats aren't even close, the "assault rifle" is used in a miniscule proportion of gun crimes. Fact is the stats show there is very little if even any gain to be had by attempting to ban this type of gun, but millions of law abiding citizens will be deprived of their right to own one.

      As for your comment about the relationship between desire to own firearms with mental illness....well I don't have a comment for that one....I think most would agree your idea is a little out there on that one.

      January 28, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juan

      The first amendment was also created around that time. The Founding Fathers never ever thought about media. Should we get rid of TV, the Internet, and radio since the only media that existed was paper?

      January 29, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. melt them down

    The 2nd Amendment does not dictate the degree to which government can REGULATE the purchase and possession of firearms. Here are some steps that may better control the situation.

    1. Slow down the time it takes to purchase a weapon. If it takes 90-100 days to purchase a weapon... so what?
    2. Sell only to those who have taken standardized training that is provided by law enforcement agencies or those licensed by an agency.
    3. Make licensing an annual activity that requires:
    a. Passing a current background check
    b. Passing a psychiatric test from a licensed provider
    c. Firing range qualification provided by a licenced provider
    d. A licencing fee adequate to pay for administration of all the above
    e. Ammunition to be heavily taxed with revenue used for administration of the above
    f. Waiting period for the sales of ammunition
    4. Severe penalties should be associated with failure to register weapons or for re-register/licence. Harsh penalties should be associated with illegal possession, sales or use of weapons.

    p.s. Let the military deal with a future armed invasion of the USA. No need to stock pile weapons in anticipation of a future war or use that as an excuse for doing so. You are all starting to sound like a bunch of nuts... you really should't have them in your condition. Paranoia will destroy ya.

    January 26, 2013 at 3:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Oakspar77777

      The paranoid behavior here appears to be on your part, since your fear of guns makes you want to restrict them to only the government and the rich.

      Maybe such restrictions as you mention should be applied to your 1st amendment rights instead?

      January 26, 2013 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Guns are neither good or evil, the poeple who handle them are. Putting more guns in the hands of good people and keeping them away from whackos is the answer but even whackos have rights. Psychiatrists do not want to tell the gov that each of their unstable patients should not be allowed to handle guns. If they did fewer whackos would go to them in the first place. That whole doctor patient privelage seems to be a bigger problem for keeping guns away from those who should not have them than the 2nd amendment. People who have never used a gun or have absolutely no clue about guns watch tv and see all the shootings and cry that all guns should be melted down. The 2nd amendment was not intended to form a militia to defend our nation against foreign invaders but to defend ourselves against our own Goverment. In case you have not noticed our Gov is reaching into more and more parts of our lives all the time and never backs out.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
    • OregonTom

      You have brought up the term "licensed provider" so many times I believe that you have a vested interest in some sort of for profit firearm licensing scheme. Am I wrong?

      January 28, 2013 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
    • syzito

      It is more than obvious that you know nothing of history and gun control and government regulation of firearms.All of these items were also favored by Hitler,Stalin and Lenin.Remember them and the millions of their own citizens that they killed.Liberal low brow Democrats are a larger threat to the constitution and freedom than any terrorist or foreign enemy.

      January 28, 2013 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
    • The nurse

      "shall not be infringed" seems pretty clear to me. Where you get off thinking any of those are not infringments is beyond me.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • IHateLies

      Trolls just be trolling.

      Poster brings absolutely nothing intelligent to the discussion. Made obvious by the name.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terri

      Meh, 6 of every 10 per 100,000 gun deaths are suicide, 1 is an accidental shooting (usually a child) and some of the 3 homicides are husbands, wives and kids killing their own family members. Gun owners have far more to fear from guns than non-gun owners. Let them kill each other off. (numbers from FBI & CDC websites)

      January 28, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeffrey (Guatemala)

    I live in Central America, through which most of the drugs find their way to the USA from S.A. and Mexico. We are living in a violently uncontrolled chaos, where we fear both the National Police, the Army, and the bad guys. Usually we have a diffcult time telling the difference.
    The good guys have to confront the bad guys with woefully inadequate weapons; the bad guys have heavy weapons which COME DIRECTLY FROM THE USA AS PART OF THE PAYMENT FOR THE DRUGS, AS PART OF GUN SHOWS, OR FROM IDIOTIC ATF OPERATIONS.
    The USA spends so much time trying to control the movement of drugs from the south to the north. Why dos the USA not look at the gun flow to the south? Please support us in our struggle against the bad guys. STOP giving them weapons! CONTROL GUNS! STOP DRUGS.

    January 25, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. just a guy

    I'm very curious as to what the Founding Fathers would say on the current gun debate. I do believe that people should have the right to bear arms...the 2nd Amendment is important and necessary. However, I also believe that the Constitution (and any other document written before the Civil War) is severely outdated. As foundation pieces for a beginning nation, they were effective and accurate. But with the advancement in manufacturing and technology (which will only get better and more efficient with time) there needs to be an "advancement" in our Constitution.

    January 23, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • syzito

      This nation exist and remains somewhat free because of this "old" document that was written by men of a far greater intelligence level that any one in public office today or for the past 200 yrs.Letting liberal Democrats with an IQ of 40 rewrite our constitution to suit their fantasy world would be the death of America and freedoms.

      January 28, 2013 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff

    I am a native of a "blue" state, Maine. It used to be a "Red" state , but with the constant influx of people from Mass. N.Y. NJ it is now predominately "Blue" in the south where the largest portion of the population resides. Maine has the highest per capita gun ownership in the country and the lowest incidence of gun violence in the nation. Could someone rationally explain to me why since this is the case, we need more restrictive gun laws ?

    January 23, 2013 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ken

    Blah, Blah, Blah... people wake up! The 2nd amendment, like the Bible and any other document is subject to the reader's interpretation The NRA and the people that believe Big Brother is out to take ALL of their guns will NEVER change their minds and the people that believe that every law abiding citizen has the right to own hand guns and hunting rifles, but NOT assault rifles, semi-automatic, and fully automatic weapons, will never change their minds. There are others that have opinions somewhere in between NO guns and give everybody guns and you are not going to change their minds. The bottom line is that everyone is doing exactly what the spineless politicians want you to do, bickering back and forth constantly, knowing that NO ONE is going to change the other's opinion on this issue, but it takes your focus off of the people that make the laws. They are ALL afraid of the NRA and the fact that they may not get re-elected if they vote against them. The ONLY way to get this resolved is for EVERY registered voter to call their Congressmen and Senators and tell them that how they vote on new gun legislation will determine how you vote in 2014. THEN if they do not vote the way you believe they should, VOTE AGAINST THEM. Let the democratic process handle these issues. This is the ONLY way we have any power to correct the policies and legislation that we disagree with, not bickering back and forth with each other. I'm not going to change your mind and you are not going to change mine on gun legislation, but I WILL sure as hell vote against anyone that doesn't vote for the new legislation that President Obama has proposed. I suggest ALL of you call you representatives and voice your opinion and then follow up in the voting booth in 2014. THIS is the ONLY power that we have to control these clowns.

    January 23, 2013 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Juan Port

      For those who are so adamant that guns are the problem and government is the solution I encourage you to stop for a moment and look at the history of those who have followed your solution. Look at at Poland during the blitzkreig, Hitler stopped first to look up all the registered gun owners and then killed them first to eliminate the threat. The UK followed your path eliminating handguns then rifles then finally shotguns. In the late 1990's a homeowner in a burglary ridden neighborhood stopped two thieves breaking into his home killing one and wounding the other. The citizen received a life sentence for his efforts at self-defense. If you make guns illegal then those who ignore the law will be armed and those who follow the law will be victims. Thomas Jefferson had several appropriate comments, i.e. those who beat their swords into plows will be slaves to those who do not. An armed man is a Citizen and unarmed man is a Subject. The right to bear arms is a defense against theft but also the final defense against government. Before you give away your rights, take the time to educate yourself as once gone, they can never be recovered. If guns kill people then spoons made you fat and pencils misspelled your words!

      January 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
      • Common Sense isn't too Common- Benjamin Franklin

        Three Things

        1. Hitler targeted all Poles and Russians as part of his final solution.

        2. The UK's homicide rate is 722. The US's is 14,748, the highest of any 1st world country and a majority of 2nd and 3rdworld countries.

        3. If you are saying that getting shot to death is only as bad as being fat or a poor speller, than you have a far bigger problem.

        January 29, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terry

      100% correct method here

      January 30, 2013 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Randy p

    This all about government control nothing about safety.

    January 23, 2013 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  10. Steve

    "By an overwhelming 92 – 7 percent, Virginia voters support background checks for people who buy guns at gun shows"

    Stop twisting the facts! You WILL have a background check if you buy from a retailer at a gun show. You do NOT have to have a background check for a private to private sale (which can be done in your back yard, in a parking lot, or yes, at a gun show). But to word it that way implies that anyone can walk into a gun show, buy whatever they want, and not have a background check. Stop spreading ignorance.. please.

    January 23, 2013 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jason

    The Extreme party here is not the people whom believe in the constitution. I am sick and tired of people calling the Right/GOP extreme. The Extreme party here is the Liberal/Left party whom are always attempting to change how we do things in our country. Why is it the Extreme party, "the Liberal/Left" need to take everything they can from the american people. When will you guys wake up and stand for your rights and freedoms and stop letting this happen? The Extreme party are for limiting your rights, higher taxes and more ridiculous regulations at all levels of govt. The Extreme party is the party of take take take with the short term promise of giving. They can only take so much, then all you people brainwashed by them, will be stuck without any rights and freedoms and no handouts due to a failed govt. That will be all on you. And then when another country sees this as an opportunity to invade (which by the way could happen, don't fool yourself), the citizens wont have guns to defend themselves with. Is this the history you want? Protect the 2nd amendment. Protect the Constitution. That is not Extreme, that is the normal thing you should be doing as an American!

    January 23, 2013 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. NoTags

    What I would like to know and I can't seem to find the answer online is this; How many guns used in ALL deaths by firearms (excluding suicides) are actually purchased at gun shows?

    January 23, 2013 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • kckaaos

      And you won't find that number either. Why? Because it is counter productive to the anti-gun nuts' claims. You will only hear of an incident here and an incident there (cherry picking) because as a whole, guns make society safer.

      January 23, 2013 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
      • Common Sense

        Yeah! right tell that to the maintenance worked caught in the crossfire yesterday or to the nine bystanders wounded in crossfire by police in the Empire State Builing shooting last year. You guys are loons.

        January 23, 2013 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • mgray55

      We'll never know, since the NRA fights tooth and nail to make sure any meaningful data is never collected.

      January 23, 2013 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. Chaos

    Its time for taker red states to stop mooching off of Blue State taxpayers.

    January 23, 2013 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • kckaaos

      It is time for you to post numbers. The 4 most solvent states in the US are RED.

      I find it funny that you liberals claim the Red states have all the money AND they are the poorest. You need to coalesce your lies.

      January 23, 2013 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
      • Common Sense

        Uh! No, with the exception of Texas, the Red states all take from the Fed more than they kick in. The Texas exception is only due to oil royalties. The Red state are all leeches.

        January 23, 2013 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mark

    How come the 2nd amendment extremists also tend
    to elect representatives who promote a strong US
    military? If they're truly in fear that the government
    could turn the military on its own citizens, it would
    figure they would push for a weaker military. And
    to say something like "my 30 round clip can handle
    your drone strike", yeah right.

    January 23, 2013 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • kckaaos

      Q: How come the 2nd amendment extremists also tend to elect representatives who promote a strong US military?
      A: Where did you get your numbers? Are they made up? on 1/19, far more blue states had lines than red states. The bottom line, your liberal dance party is falling apart.

      Q:If they're truly in fear that the government could turn the military on its own citizens, it would figure they would push for a weaker military.
      A: Just so you know, the military is not thee to serve the President. I find it interesting however, that you ask questions from the totalitarian mindset. Of the hundreds of Military personnel I interact with, not ONE would take up arms against the US citizenry.

      Q: to say something like "my 30 round clip can handle your drone strike", yeah right.
      A: I find it interesting that you imply that the President would use drones against his own citizens. Who is REALLY paranoid. FACT: the US military has been working for close to 10 years to get a country under control that rely on camels as their primary mode of transportation. Between the massive walkout of military forces and the highly ubiquitous technology and firepower in the hands of the common US citizen, the US military would not stand a chance.

      January 23, 2013 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
      • Mark

        So if you're not worried about the military taking up arms
        against US citizenry, then what are you worried about?

        January 23, 2013 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
      • Mark

        Breaking down your replies:
        1) I didn't mention red or blue.
        2) I didn't say anything about the President.
        3) Ubiquitous technology of the common US citizen?

        January 23, 2013 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |