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Putnam County Firearm Owners Association

Putnam County Firearm Owners Association

Putnam County Firearm Owners Association

Candidate Questionnaire

Answers by Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for Governor of New York

1. Do you believe a law abiding citizen should be able to own a gun? Why?

Yes. Self-defense, hunting, and sport shooting are legitimate reasons for law abiding citizens to own rifles, pistols, and shotguns.

2. Do you believe a law abiding citizen should be able to carry a gun for personal protection? Why?

Yes. If you feel the need for personal protection, owing a gun will do you no good if you cannot carry it with you outside your home.

3. Do you believe that municipalities should be able to pass stricter firearms laws than what is required by state law?

Yes. Different communities have different interests and problems. Local people can best make the laws that govern their local communities.

4. Would you even consider using your office to further restrict second amendment rights?

No. I agree with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in D.C. v. Hellerthat held that the 2nd Amendment protects the individual right of law-abiding citizens to own guns, while permitting public regulation of the ownership and operation of guns in the interests of public safety.

As Justice Scalia wrote in the opinion of the court:

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…. [It is] not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose…. Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms….

We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller[an earlier case] said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”

5. Is there anything else you would like to share that I haven’t asked?

Finding the right balance between the individual right to bear arms and the public’s right to regulate arms for public safety is difficult, subject to change with changing circumstances, and must be determined by careful democratic debate and decisions.

With gun violence and mass shootings in the United States far greater than any other country in the world not at war, at this time I support these reforms to gun safety laws:

  • A ban on the sale of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and bump stocks.

  • Universal background checks for gun and ammunition buyers, including closing the loophole for private sales and sales at gun shows, with records maintained in a central registry, not destroyed after 24 hours as under current law.

  • Require all gun owners to pass a gun safety test, a visual test, and be licensed by a government agency, similar to the requirements for obtaining a driver license.

  • Institute a 28-day waiting period after license application before firearms can be possessed.

  • Expand the recently enacted prohibition on the purchase and possession of guns by people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes to include people convicted of menacing, assault, or unlawful imprisonment.

  • Allow government-funded research into the health impacts of gun violence, including high rates of suicides from handguns.

  • Support police tactical training in de-escalation and conflict resolution.

I also want careful monitoring of the enforcement of gun safety laws to ensure equal treatment of all social groups by law enforcement. The NYS Safe Act has been applied unequally to date, with enforcement and prosecutions disproportionately concentrated in low-income communities of color.

I do not believe gun safety laws alone can uproot the causes of gun violence. The high rates of murder and the increasing number of mass shootings in America is indicative of a society engulfed in fear fueled by racism, xenophobia, misogyny, militarism, and growing inequalities in income, wealth, and power. Global data show that across nations rates of murder and gun assaults go up with economic inequality. The culture of militarism, which inculcates fears of other types of people and glorifies the military, police, wars, and violence as the answer to those fears, promotes gun violence. We need broad egalitarian social reform as well as reasonable gun safety laws to substantially reduce the extremely high rate of gun violence in America.

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