US courts say Parkland students' agenda works with with the Second Amendment

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The student organisers of the March for Our Lives have released a five-point policy agenda that they say will reduce the toll of gun violence in the United States.

While many gun-control opponents have tried to frame the march as an “attack” on the Second Amendment, the organisers policy agenda is striking most of all for the modesty of its scope - just five items, consisting mostly of policies that federal courts have ruled to be wholly compatible with the Second Amendment.

Here’s what they want:

1. Fund gun violence research

The students call for more government funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other groups to research gun and intervention programmes. This is in line with a recent recommendation from the non-profit research company Rand Corp. The company says the current lack of funding for firearm research makes it hard to know which gun-control policies might save the most lives.

Because this issue doesn’t directly affect gun ownership rights, there haven’t been any significant court cases involving the CDC’s part in gun research.

A late February Economist-YouGov poll found that 50 per cent of Americans said they supported having the CDC conduct gun violence research, with 28 per cent opposed and a further 22 per cent unsure.

2. Strengthen the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

The marchers want to get rid of restrictions on the ATF, such as that fact that in some cases federal gun databases are “non-searchable.” Gun rights groups son't want a fully searchable gun databsase for fear it might lead to citizens having to register their guns.

In the February Economist-YouGov poll, 63 per cent of Americans said they supported “requiring gun owners to register their guns with a national gun registry,” with 26 per cent opposing such a move.

3. Universal background checks

The Supreme Court upheld most of the gavernment background check system in 1997. However it did get rid of a few conditions under which local officials could be asked to do a background check for government officials.

As a way to beat the background check system, people banned from guns could have just asked someone else to buy the gun for them. The Supreme Court ruled again on the government background check system in 2014, when it said the government could ban people buying guns for someone else. 

Surveys show that a universal background check requirement has near-universal support, ranging from 80 per cent in the Economist-YouGov poll to 97 per cent in another poll, carried out by Quinnipiac University.

4. A high-capacity magazine ban

The students call for a ban on gun magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. This was a key provision of the 1994 assault weapons ban that a number of researchers credit with reducing the toll of mass shooting deaths during the 10 years it was in force. A magazine is a device which holds bullets and can be slipped in and out of a gun, rather than someone having to hand-load bullets. A high-capacity magazine hold more than the usual number of bullets, meaning a shooter can fire longer without having to reload.

A magazine holds multiple bullets, or rounds.

Only eight of the 50 US States have some sort of ban on high-capacity magazines: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

A March 2018 Quinnipiac poll found that 63 per cent of Americans, including 50 per cent of gun owners, said they supported such a ban.

5. A ban on assault weapons

The students call for an assault weapons ban, as well as either a national registry or buyback programme to deal with the large number of such guns already in circulation. The government has a ban on assault weapons - but states get to decide whether or not they follow it. People tend to argue over what exactly an assault weapon is. For people thinking "the clue is in the name" the AR in AR-15 - the weapon used at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School - stands for Armalite, the name of the company that makes it. This is standard weapon-naming practise.

Currently only seven states, and the District of Columbia have enacted that ban. The states are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Maschusetts, New Jersey and New York.

A March 2018 Quinnipiac poll found 61 per cent support for a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons, including 49 per cent support among gun owners.