Call Your State Legislators · Common-sense Gun Laws · Community Activism

Ask Your State Legislators to Require Gun Owners to Report Lost or Stolen Guns

This OTYCD post originally appeared in May 2018.

 

Ask your state legislators to require gun owners to promptly report lost or stolen guns.

 

It seems ridiculous on its face, but it’s true. More than 36 states do not currently require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns.

 

It makes sense to require gun owners to formally report losses and thefts. Timely reporting makes it harder for firearms to fall into dangerous hands. It can also help them get their guns back.

 

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has comprehensive information on how things are now.

 

According to the center, the only states that broadly require gun-owning residents to report losses or thefts to local law enforcement authorities are:

 

California

Connecticut

Delaware

Illinois

Massachusetts

New Jersey

New York

Ohio

Rhode Island

The District of Columbia also has this requirement.

 

A few states have more limited laws.

 

Michigan specifically requires owners to report thefts, but says nothing about losses.

 

Maryland requires reporting losses and thefts, but only for handguns and assault weapons, not other types of firearms.

 

New Jersey is alone in imposing civil liability on owners who fail to report lost or stolen guns that are later used in a crime, and its law focuses on assault weapons only.

 

 

If your state is not listed above, or has laws that could be improved, please call or email your state legislators and ask them to write a bill to address this problem.

 

To find your state legislators, plug your address and zip code into this web site:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org

 

Once you have the two names you need, go to the web site for your state legislature and find the contact information for your state senator and state house rep.

 

 

Contacting your state house rep and state senator is different from contacting your federal-level reps. Calls and emails are equally effective, and you’re far more likely to get through to the actual elected official, rather than a staffer.

 

 

While cautioning that jurisdictions should consult lawyers when approaching this issue, the Giffords center cites several aspects that make for a good common-sense state law regarding lost or stolen firearms:

 

The owners should be required to raise the alarm as soon as possible once they learn their guns are lost or stolen.

 

The legal duty to report starts once the owner knew, or should have known, about the loss or the theft.

 

Those who lost guns or suffered thefts before the law took effect should be given a reasonable deadline for reporting those losses and thefts.

 

The law on reporting losses and thefts should apply to all firearms, not just assault weapons or handguns.

 

Owners should face civil liabilities for not reporting the loss or theft of a gun that is later used in a crime.

 

Requiring owners to report losses and thefts swiftly should be a condition of receiving a state gun license or registration, and failure to report losses and thefts soon after discovery should be enough to justify yanking those permissions.

 

 

FWIW, federal law does not require individual gun owners to report–but it does require firearms dealers who suffer thefts or losses from their inventories to speak up. Right now, we at OTYCD feel it best to ask you to focus on getting state-level laws passed to fix this problem.

 

 

 

Visit the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence:

lawcenter.giffords.org

 

 

Donate to the center:

https://giffordslawcenter.networkforgood.com/projects/38759-giffords-law-center-to-prevent-gun-violence

 

 

Like it on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/giffords/

 

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@GiffordsCourage

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

See a January 2018 PBS Newshour transcript that notes in passing that 39 states do not require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns (scroll down a little):

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/gun-owning-group-in-oregon-advocates-for-firearm-safety

 

 

A note: We at OTYCD intend to nurture and encourage the movement sparked by the Margory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting by devoting one post at least every other week to gun safety-related issues.

 

The reason that the NRA has a death grip on Congress, and in particular, GOP Congressfolk, is that NRA members get off their asses and call if there’s a whisper of a muttering of a hint that a law might pass that could impose even the slightest imposition on ownership of guns in America.

 

That’s what the politicians are afraid of. It’s not just that some of them get metric buttloads of money for their campaigns from the NRA. Those who embrace the NRA’s outlook pounce on their phones and berate their representatives the instant they think their beloved guns are under threat.

 

So, yes, it’s on us to shout back.

 

We have to adopt the tactics of those who support the NRA.

 

We have to call our representatives often to make it damn clear that the status quo is unacceptable, and we want common-sense gun safety laws.

 

OTYCD will start out with one weekday post every two weeks, at minimum, that has to do with improving gun safety and pushing back against the NRA.

 

We do this in honor of the Parkland victims, and all victims of mass shootings in America, and everyone who has been fighting to change our laws on firearms all along.

 

If Trump finally bows to the will of Congress and imposes the sanctions against Russia for messing with the 2016 election, we will switch to devoting one post per week to these issues.

 

Honor the victims of the Parkland shooting, and all other shootings, by stepping up and calling your reps about common-sense gun safety laws, and by supporting politicians who have low grades from the NRA, and voting out those who do the NRA’s bidding.

 

#NeverAgain. For the love of all that is right and good, Never Again.

Call Your State Legislators · Community Activism · Elections · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Learn If Your State Is Passing Laws That Restrict Voting, and Fight Back

This OTYCD entry originally posted in June 2017.

Is your state trying to pass laws that make it harder to vote? Consult the Brennan Center’s info and maps, and if the answer is yes, fight back.

 

Voting restrictions are a scourge on democracy, but as long as they benefit Republicans, Republicans will try to pass them. We feel that if you are eligible to vote, and you want to vote, you should be able to vote, and you should be given many options for doing so to let you choose what works best for your schedule.

 

The Brennan Center for Justice, located at the New York University School of Law, tracks state bills that intend or have the effect of making it harder to vote.

 

First, read the Brennan Center’s Voting Laws Roundup for 2017, and see if your state is mentioned:

https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/voting-laws-roundup-2017?utm_content=bufferba0df&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

Also see the Brennan Center’s interactive map of New Voting Restrictions in America:

https://www.brennancenter.org/new-voting-restrictions-america

 

Once you know what’s going on in your state, call your state-level reps to speak out against laws that restrict voting.

 

Don’t know who your state house rep and state senator are? Plug your address and zip code into this search tool (note–the address is key. If you only give your zip code, you won’t get the two names you most need):

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org

 

Then click on the names of your state house rep and state senator. Their contact info will come up.

 

Here’s a sample script that you can modify accordingly:

“Dear (State Senator/House Rep Lastname), I ask you to oppose (House/Senate bill ####), which will have the effect of making it harder to cast a vote. Everyone who is eligible to vote, and wants to, should have the opportunity to do so. Bills and laws that make it harder to vote are inherently anti-democratic. Please do not sponsor, co-sponsor, or support bills that stop people from voting. Thank you.”

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

Call Your State Legislators · Community Activism · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Live in Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, or Maine? Ask Your State Legislators to Kill, Rescind, or Defend Against a Call for a Constitutional Convention

Do you live in Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, or Maine? Ask your state legislators to kill, rescind, or defend against a call for a Constitutional Convention (Con Con).

 

We at OTYCD have written about the long-term right-wing goal of calling a Con Con. The idea of a Constitutional convention isn’t inherently bad, but what its far-right advocates want to achieve IS inherently bad, and needs to be stopped.

 

The best way to stop a Con Con is to elect more Democrats to state legislatures–the entities that can put the call forward, and cancel the call as well.

 

On November 6, 2018, voters in several states did just that–they elected more Democrats. In seven states, they elected enough Democrats to flip one or both legislative chambers from red to blue.

 

In May 2018, we at OTYCD explained how to find out if your state legislature had passed a resolution in support of a Con Con, and explained how to ask your state legislators to rescind the resolution. It’s definitely doable; Nevada, Maryland, and New Mexico all rescinded in 2017.

 

In this post, we’re cross-checking the newly flipped legislatures against the map provided by the pro-Con Con people, so citizens in those states can ask their representatives to rescind a resolution or kill bills that are in progress.

 

We’ll be reproducing some language from that blog post to illustrate these points.

 

But first! If you don’t know who your state house rep and state senator are, go to the link below and plug in your address and zip code to get their names:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org

 

Also, we should start with the good news: on the pro-Con Con org’s map, states colored green have passed the resolution. None of the states that flipped one or both of their chambers on Tuesday are green on that map.

 

New York flipped its Senate properly blue at long last. New York state is also blue on the Con Con map–that means active legislation was in at least one chamber in 2018.

 

Unfortunately, the map does not identify which of the two chambers the bill is in. (Theoretically, a blue state could have bills in both.)

 

New Yorkers should call or email their state legislators, explain what a Con Con is, and explain there’s a bill in at least one of the state chambers in 2018. Say that you want that bill halted, or better yet, killed.

 

 

The newly flipped Minnesota House is in a blue state on the Con Con map (its Senate is in GOP hands). It’s not clear which of the two chambers the bill is in, but Minnesotans should call their state house rep, explain about the Con Con, and ask them to kill the bill or remain on alert to kill it.

 

New Hampshire flipped both its chambers to Democratic control on Tuesday. It’s on the pro-Con Con map as a yellow state, which means legislation has passed one chamber.

 

As with the blue states, the map does not identify which of the two chambers has passed the bill. It’s also not specified when that yellow-state chamber passed the bill; it could predate 2018. It could predate 2018 by a lot.

 

New Hampshirites should contact their state reps, explain what a Con Con is, and explain that a pro-Con Con bill has passed one chamber, but it’s not clear which, or when. Say you oppose a Con Con resolution, and that you want your state reps to vote no on any Con Con resolution bills that might arrive on their desks.

 

Maine and Colorado flipped their state senates. Both appear on the pro-Con Con map colored white, which, by inference, means there’s no legislation pending there at the moment, and the states don’t appear to be current targets of the org.

 

Even still, it’s probably worth it for Mainers and Coloradans to call their state senators, explain what a Con Con is, and explain that while the state is not currently a target, you want your reps to oppose any attempt to push the initiative. It’s the project of a far-right-wing org called COS Action. COS stands for ‘Convention of States.’

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Action Alerts · Call Your Members of Congress · Call Your State Legislators · Community Activism · Stand for Science

Pledge to Vote for Science

Take the Vote for Science pledge.

 

The Vote for Science pledge is an offshoot of the March for Science movement, which held its second annual march on April 14, 2018.

 

The pledge calls for citizens to:

Hold their leaders accountable for supporting policies that use and empower science

Advocate for science in their own communities

Vote, and encourage friends and neighbors to vote, too.

 

The website also offers specific pro-science actions that you can take, such as asking your state government to improve science education standards, and telling Congress and the president to fund research into gun violence and choose qualified scientists for science-heavy leadership posts in government.

 

 

See the Vote for Science homepage:

https://www.sciencevote.org

 

 

Take the Vote for Science pledge:

https://www.sciencevote.org/pledge

 

 

See Vote for Science’s Calendar of Themes (July 2018 is, of course, Space):

https://www.sciencevote.org/calendar

 

 

Donate to Vote for Science:

https://www.sciencevote.org/donate

Action Alerts · Call Your State Legislators · Community Activism · Marches and Protests

Find Out If Your State Is Passing Laws That Punish Protesters, and Fight Back

Find out if your state is trying to pass laws that punish protesters, and fight back.

 

The First Amendment to the Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law abridging… the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

That’s not stopping state legislatures from trying to pass laws that would punish protestors.

 

The laws take many forms. Some impose new penalties for protestors who block traffic. Others make “disruptive” protests a felony, which has implications for voting rights. Still others impose lighter penalties on drivers who hit protestors, a phenomenon we at OTYCD have written about before.

 

More than half of the states have considered or are considering laws that would crimp the rights of protestors.

 

Is your state one of them?

 

The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) has built a U.S. Protest Law Tracker that will let you search for your state and see what it’s up to.

 

See the U.S. Protest Law Tracker:

http://www.icnl.org/usprotestlawtracker/

 

 

If your state is pursuing laws that would make it harder to stage protests, call or email your state legislators and urge them to vote no.

 

Find your state legislators, along with their contact information:

https://www.whoaremyrepresentatives.org

 

 

See the homepage for the ICNL:

http://www.icnl.org

 

 

Like it on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ICNLDC/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

 

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@ICNLAlliance

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

Call Your State Legislators · Elections · Ethics · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Ask Your State Legislators to Pass a Bill Requiring Presidential Candidates to Release Their Tax Returns Or Else

This OTYCD entry originally posted in April 2017.

Have a look at this bill that Massachusetts State Senator Michael Barrett proposed that would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns, and ask your own state legislators to pass a similar bill. 

When the feds are asleep at the wheel, we citizens have to turn to state and local government to step in and steer as best they can. Trump promised to release his tax returns when he was a presidential candidate, but has consistently refused to honor his pledge. Enter Massachusetts state senator Mike Barrett, who’s doing his best to make sure no one else can pull the same move without consequences.

In January he proposed Bill S.365, titled An Act Restoring Financial Transparency in Presidential Elections. If passed, it would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns if they want to appear on the state’s ballot. Candidates who fail to comply lose the right to appear on the ballot; they could only compete as a write-in.

Brendan Berger, who handles communications for Barrett, says the state senator consulted constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe, on the bill, and reports that Tribe believes it will pass muster.

Could your state pass something similar?

First, check and make sure your state legislators aren’t already on the case. A handful of states, all heavily Democratic, are pursuing similar measures.

If your state legislators aren’t mulling a bill like this one yet, call or email them and ask them to consider it.

To find your state legislators, plug your address and zip code into this web site:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org

Once you have the two names you need, go to the web site for your state legislature and find the contact information for your state senator and state house rep.

Contacting your state house rep and state senator is different from contacting your federal-level reps. Calls and emails are equally effective, and you’re far more likely to get through to the actual elected official. It might be best to start with your state senator, seeing as Barrett is a state senator.

Sample email: Dear State Senator (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname), and I live in (town, zip code). I am emailing to ask if you would consider introducing a bill that would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns in order to appear on our state’s ballot. Having a law like this in place would prevent future candidates from refusing to release their returns, as Trump has. I have (attached/included a link) to a Massachusetts bill now under consideration that is designed to address this issue. Thanks for considering my request. Sincerely, (Firstname Lastname).

 

Read the text of Massachusetts State Senator Mike Barrett’s bill:

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S365/Senate/Bill/Text

 

Read Barrett’s statement about his bill, S.365, which explains it in plainer language:

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Mass–law-can-compel-presidential-candidates-to-release-their-tax-returns—So-let-s-do-it—The-Barrett-Report–December–2016-.html?soid=1110058483636&aid=dXsAzV6_NRA

 

Read stories from Massachusetts newspapers on Barrett’s bill:

https://www.boston.com/news/politics/2016/12/15/this-massachusetts-bill-could-block-donald-trump-from-the-ballot-in-2020

http://lexington.wickedlocal.com/news/20161214/senator-mike-barret-d-lexington-wants-presidential-candidates-tax-returns-to-run-for-office-in-massachusetts

 

This Politico article contains references to efforts in Illinois and New Mexico to pass state bills that are similar to that of Barrett’s (scroll down a good bit):

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/state-legislators-trump-trolling-234919

 

Special thanks to Brendan Berger for answering OTYCD‘s questions about Mike Barrett’s bill via DM on Twitter. Please follow him: @brendanberger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Action Alerts · Call Your State Legislators · Community Activism · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Separation of Church and State · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Learn How To Get Your State to Rescind A Resolution Calling for a Constitutional Convention

Learn how to get your state to rescind a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention.

 

A cadre of right-wing folks have been agitating for years to call a new Constitutional Convention (also known as a “Con Con”) with the notion of reshaping the U.S. Constitution. They want to pass a balanced budget amendment, evidently to curtail spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

 

See OTYCD‘s past post on how to thwart a Constitutional Convention:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/03/24/thwart-a-constitutional-convention-by-electing-democrats-to-state-legislatures/

 

A minimum of 34 states are required to call a convention, and anything hatched at the convention would need 38 states to pass.

 

Set aside the fact that a Constitutional Convention would bring a heap of chaos–the Constitution does not lay out any procedural rules, and Article V, the part of the Constitution that allows conventions, has never been invoked before.

 

The fact remains that the push for a Constitutional Convention is a right-wing hobby horse, pursued by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other dubious folk.

 

Working to elect Democratic state legislators helps thwart these plans, as we note in the previous post. But there is another step that should be taken.

 

A state that assents to a Constitutional Convention is not locked in. It can rescind its resolution agreeing to the Con Con.

 

Some states have rescinded. In 2017, Nevada, Maryland, and New Mexico all did so.

 

If your state has passed a resolution calling for a Con Con, you can petition your legislature to rescind it.

 

A pro-Con Con group, COS Action, tracks its progress with a map. Yellow states have passed the bill in one chamber. Green states have passed the bill outright. Blue states are those where the bill is “active legislation.” White states are inactive–they have not passed Con Con legislation and don’t appear to be targeted for legislation.

See the map by scrolling down to the header ‘So, Are You Making Any Progress?’ and click on the progress map button:

https://conventionofstates.com

 

 

If you don’t know who your state house rep and state senator are, go to the link below and plug in your address and zip code to get their names:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org

 

 

Is your state colored green on the map? Are your state legislative representatives open to sponsoring a bill to rescind a call for a Con Con? If so, ask them to get to work, and check in on them periodically to make sure they’re on it.

 

If your own state legislators would favor this move, do some research and see if there are other legislators in your state who would support it. Recruit friends in that part of the state and ask them to ask their reps for this.

 

 

Is your state colored blue on this map? Call your state legislators, say you oppose calling for a Constitutional Convention, and ask them to fight any state bill that calls for one.

 

 

Yellow states are trickier. The COS map indicates that the bill has passed in one state chamber, but does not say which one. In this case, call your state legislators, say you oppose calling for a Constitutional Convention, and say what you know–a pro-convention interest group indicates that one chamber has passed a bill but you’re not sure which one.

 

Ask for help finding out which state chamber passed the bill. When you have that information, you can take the next step. If the bill passed in the house and is now in the senate, ask your state house rep to prepare a bill to rescind, and ask your state senator to vote no on any state senate counterpart that might be live. If it’s the other way around, act accordingly.

 

And as stated before, continue to work to elect state-level representatives who aren’t on board with a Con Con. In general, that means voting for Democrats, sane Republicans, and sane Independents.

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Read a November 2017 backgrounder on the Con Con from the CBS website:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/will-there-be-a-new-constitutional-convention/

 

 

Read an August 2017 piece from the Bill Moyers site on the right-wing push for a Con Con, led by ALEC:

http://billmoyers.com/story/alec-constitutional-convention/

 

 

Read a May 2017 story from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) website on states that rescinded their calls for a Con Con:

https://www.cbpp.org/blog/nevada-joins-maryland-new-mexico-in-rescinding-calls-for-a-constitutional-convention

 

 

See the language of Nevada’s 2017 state bill rescinding its call for a Con Con:

https://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/79th2017/Bills/SJR/SJR10.pdf