gun rights

Will arming teachers make schools safer? While that debate continues across the country, this week more than a dozen school employees from around Colorado spent three days learning advanced gun skills at a shooting range outside of Denver.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

It's time to talk about ballot measures. Or rather, those other things voters are deciding on Nov. 8.

This November, there are 156 measures being voted on in 35 states and the District of Columbia. California is in the lead, with a whopping 17 measures on its ballot.

Although these ballot measures are voted on state by state, there are some big national themes.

The recent targeted attacks on police in Dallas and Baton Rouge have law enforcement on edge. Some departments are telling officers to patrol in pairs when possible, and to be extra vigilant about possible ambush.

Complicating matters is the question of how to interpret and react to the presence of a gun. With more Americans now exercising their legal right to carry firearms, police find themselves having to make rapid judgments about whether an armed citizen is a threat.

The deaths last week of three African-American men in encounters with police, along with the killing of five Dallas officers by a black shooter, have left many African-American gun owners with conflicting feelings; those range from shock to anger and defiance. As the debate over gun control heats up, some African-Americans see firearms as critical to their safety, especially in times of racial tension.

There's an all-too familiar fight that takes place after horrible events like those in Dallas and Orlando, centered around firearms and how — or even whether — to regulate them.

Gun-control advocates and Democrats call for tighter regulations. Gun-rights groups and Republicans argue that blame shouldn't be put on inanimate objects, but on the people pulling the trigger. Both sides dig in. And it seems that nothing changes.

The list of items banned from downtown Cleveland during this month's upcoming Republican National Convention includes tennis balls, grappling hooks and canned goods.

But not guns.

The city of Cleveland has spent more than a year planning for security around the RNC, but it has very little say on the subject of firearms.

"We'll follow the law. The state has a law, we follow the law. Whatever that law is we'll follow it," said Mayor Frank Jackson.

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Gov. Jerry Brown has signed new gun control legislation for California, enacting bills that limit magazine capacity to 10 bullets; require a background check for those purchasing ammunition; and restrict the lending of firearms, among other effects.

In signing the bills, Brown said he wants "to enhance public safety by tightening our existing laws in a responsible and focused manner, while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners."

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