(WBEN/AP) As state and federal officials discuss restrictions on guns, neither has a monopoly on confusion, contradiction and doublespeak.
State officials continue their statewide tour to explain the state's new gun laws to gun owners, but as they do there continues to be conflicting information on what's in the bill. On on Capitol Hill, both sides are debating the issue by stretching the truth or mis-interpreting their opponents remarks
One example: The NYS SAFE ACT says you can have a magazine that holds ten bullets as long as you only put 7 bullets in. The State's new website designed to answer gun owner questions on the bill, says you have to modify the magazine if it accommodates more than 7 bullets
Developments Wednesday connected to the debate over gun violence and weapons control in the U.S.:
GIFFORDS BEFORE CONGRESS
Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, still recovering from a Tucson shooting spree that killed six people, implored federal lawmakers at an emotional hearing to act quickly to curb firearms. "Too many children are dying," she said in a hushed and halting voice. "Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now."
At the same hearing, a top official of the National Rifle Association rejected Democratic proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and said requiring background checks for all gun purchases would be ineffective because the Obama administration isn't doing enough to enforce the law as it is.
HEARINGS IN NEWTOWN
Several hundred residents of the Connecticut town where a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators in December turned out at Newtown High School for a legislative public hearing on gun policy changes. Many in the audience wore stickers urging more gun control measures, including limits on high-capacity magazines and high-powered, military-style rifles.
"Turn this tragedy into a moment of transformation," said Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old son, Dylan, was killed in the massacre.
Casey Khan, one of the few to speak in favor of gun rights, warned that further restrictions would leave "good and lawful citizens at risk." Khan received applause from some in the audience.
ALABAMA HOSTAGE STANDOFF
A gunman holed up in a bunker with a 5-year-old hostage kept law officers at bay in a standoff that began when he killed a school bus driver and dragged the boy away, according to authorities in Midland City, Ala. SWAT teams took up positions around the gunman's rural property and police negotiators were trying to win the kindergartner's release.
The gunman, identified by neighbors as 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute last month over a speed bump.
ARIZONA OFFICE GUNFIRE
A gunman eluded authorities after opening fire at a Phoenix office complex, killing one person and wounding two others. Court documents show the suspect had been scheduled to go to the building for a settlement conference in a contract dispute. A law firm says one of its lawyers was among the wounded and "was representing a client in a mediation" when he was shot.
Police warned the public that suspect Arthur D. Harmon is armed and dangerous.
INAUGURATION PERFORMER KILLED
The father of a 15-year-old presidential inauguration performer who was killed by gunfire in Chicago held a news conference in the park where she was shot, speaking as if to the gunman: "Look at yourself, just know that you took a bright person, an innocent person, a nonviolent person."
Hadiya Pendleton, who had been a majorette with the King College Prep band, was talking with friends Tuesday when a man opened fire on the group, apparently not aiming at her. She was shot in the back as she tried to flee.
President Barack Obama plans to make his first trip outside Washington to address gun proposals, traveling Monday to Minneapolis to meet with local leaders and law enforcement officials. The proposals include a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as universal background checks.
"When you throw politics into a government bureaucracy, this is certainly going to be the outcome," says Bryski, a communications professor who teaches in the political science dept.
"Here's the problem. The issue becomes the message itself. How clear is it? Are there contradictions? If one set of politicians is saying one thing and an official quote government document is saying something else, it's very difficult for the voter, for the American people, to determine what is correct," Bryski says.
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Meanwhile in Washington, The intensifying gun-control debate has given rise to sloppy claims on both sides .
Here's a sampling, with the first two examples from the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on guns Wednesday, and the third from Vice President Joe Biden's online video chat last week during a Google Plus forum.
IOWA SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY, the top Republican on the committee: "The 1994 assault weapon ban did not stop Columbine. The Justice Department found the ban ineffective."
THE FACTS: The 2004 study conducted for the Justice Department did not conclude the decade-old ban was a failure or a success. The nuanced report found that the effects of the ban "have yet to be fully realized" and it might take years to see results directly attributable to the prohibition on certain weapons and large capacity magazines. The ban expired later in 2004.
The study's author, Christopher S. Koper, then of the University of Pennsylvania, considered the restrictions modest and speculated that they would have similarly measured results - perhaps as much as a 5 percent decline in gunshot victimization over time if the ban were kept in effect.
His main finding: There were not enough statistics and time to understand the impact of the ban and "it may take many years for the effects of modest, incremental policy changes to be fully felt, a reality that both researchers and policy makers should heed."
The study made no recommendation whether the ban should be renewed. But it said that if the ban expired, it was "possible, and perhaps probable" that new assault weapons and large capacity magazines coming into the market "will eventually be used to commit mass murder."
WAYNE LaPIERRE, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association: "I think without any doubt, if you look at why our Founding Fathers put it (the Second Amendment) there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny. I also think, though, that what people all over the country fear today is being abandoned by their government. If a tornado hits, if a hurricane hits, if a riot occurs, that they're gonna be out there alone. And the only way they're going to protect themselves in the cold and the dark, when they're vulnerable, is with a firearm. And I think that indicates how relevant and essential the Second Amendment is in today's society to fundamental human survival."
SEN. DICK DURBIN, Illinois Democrat: "Well, Chief Johnson, you've heard it. The belief of NRA is, the Second Amendment has to give American citizens the firepower to fight back against you, against our government."
THE FACTS: Durbin mischaracterized LaPierre's statement in this exchange, which also involved James Johnson, Baltimore (Md.) County police chief.
LaPierre drew a distinction between what he saw as the original purpose of the Second Amendment and a contemporary fear that the government will abandon citizens, so that they must be able to protect themselves against criminals after a disaster. His statement was not a call to arms against the government.
BIDEN: "Let me give you an example: 98 percent, according to a New York Times poll, 98 percent of the American people believe that there should be tighter controls on who can own a gun."
THE FACTS: It would be a miracle if 98 percent of Americans agreed on anything. And by any measure, that many don't agree on guns.
In a New York Times/CBS News poll, 54 percent said "gun control laws should be made more strict," 34 percent said they should be left as they are and 9 percent said they should be less strict. The poll also found that 92 percent would favor "a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers," a result on par with the level of support that proposal gets in other polls. Biden made the comment last week at a Google Plus forum.
How elusive is 98 percent agreement?
Americans came close after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In October 2001, Gallup found that 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden had an unfavorable rating of 97 percent.
Here's the State's Information Site, for gun owners who have questions about the new law.
You can also access it here, or call the Toll Free Gun Q&A Hotline at 855- LAW- GUNS (529-4867)