FROM Gerald Vernon
American History and the Politics of Gun Control A mystery to people from other countries, America's gun culture is as old as the Revolution, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, perpetuated by the Civil War and mythologized as "how the West was won." But, since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, even gun owners are joining the movement for gun regulation — at the same time supporting the 2nd Amendment. The NRA is still warning about a plot for gun confiscation, but it's hunkering down for a major battle in Washington. We hear from gun owners on both sides and go to the inner cities, where gun violence is epidemic despite tough gun restrictions. If city kids can get around local controls, is that an argument for cracking down at the state and federal level?
'Stand Your Ground' in the Spotlight It used to be that people threatened with violence had a duty to flee, unless they were defending their own homes. Now 25 states have extended the right to "defend the castle" to any place it's legal to be, and anyone who claims to "perceive" a threat has the right to use equal force for protection. Florida adopted the first so-called "stand your ground" law in 2005. The Trayvon Marin case has brought attention to the laws that give people with no law enforcement authority the right to make instant decisions about life or death — with immunity from prosecution. Is that really what the Second Amendment is all about?
Is it 'Stand Your Ground' or 'Make My Day?' It used to be that people threatened with violence had a duty to flee, unless they were defending their own homes. The recent Trayvon Martin killing has focused attention on so-called "stand-your-ground" laws, which began in Florida and have spread to 24 other states. Under such laws, anyone who claims to "perceive" a threat has the right to use equal force for protection. New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg says they're creating a nation of vigilantes. Many cops and prosecutors agree. The National Rifle Association supports "stand-your-ground" laws and gun control advocates are losing ground. Despite real dangers in some neighborhoods, is the right to carry a gun being given more value than the right to life? NOTE: The NRA declined our invitation to participate in this discussion.
Is Venezuela becoming a dictatorship? Venezuela may have the world's largest oil reserves, but it's a nation in trouble… economically and politically. Is a populist promise to rescue democracy turning out to be a prelude to dictatorship?