Gun Control Folks Exploit Giffords Shooting

We knew it would happen sooner or later. Now the murderous attack on Gabrielle Giffords and others by a deranged man is being used to launch a new attack on the right to keep an bear arms. This new campaign was predictable right down to the recommendations.

Predictability is a result of repeating patterns. One pattern is the exploitation of a horrific, senseless, multiple murders. The shootings of Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and now Gabrielle Giffords were all followed by calls for increased restrictions on the right.

The latest is the current proposal from Mayors Against Illegal Guns entitled “Fix Gun Checks” (fixgunchecks.org). We’ll see what it has in common with the Gun Control act of 1968, and the Brady Bill, both of which were referenced in the Mayors’ plan.

The assassinations of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were the events that led to the Gun Control act of 1968. The law requires that anyone purchasing a gun from a licensed dealer complete a form which asks specific questions, to which a “yes” answer would prohibit the sale. The completed forms are stored at the licensed dealer. They are not forwarded to the government lest the establishment of a central database of firearm purchasers occur. It applied to dealers only, not private citizens.

If you were to say that this law is rather silly, and would do little to prevent murders, you would be correct. This is by design, it will be “fixed” in the next round.

The 1981 attempted assassination of president Reagan, and the grave injury to his press secretary, James Brady, led to the Brady Bill, finally passed in 1994. The idea was to take the admittedly silly Gun Control Act of 1968 and make it work by requiring, in addition to the form, an actual background check at the point of sale. By 1998, the dealer would simply call the National Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and get an approval, or denial, from an agent who would check a database of prohibited possessors. The law prohibits establishment of a central database of firearm purchasers, but the FBI (which operates NICS) does anyway. Since the beginning of NICS, the fight over retaining records of purchases has raged on even though it is specifically prohibited by the law.

If you were to say that this law is rather silly, and would do little to prevent murders, you would be correct. This is by design, it will be “fixed” in the next round.

Now the Mayors want to take the admittedly silly Brady Bill and make it work by greatly expanding the definitions of prohibited possessors, and expanding the regulation beyond dealers to include all transactions, including those of private citizens. In their document, the Mayors chastise Pima Community College, and the U.S. Army for not reporting the Tucson shooter to NICS as a crazy person. The Tucson shooter was never reported because he was never adjudicated insane, or committed to a mental health facility, as the law requires for reporting purposes. Do the Mayors just want to make the database bigger by extra-legal means?

So what is the common denominator here? Is it increasing the penalties for crimes of murder? Is it to make it easier to commit crazy people? Is it a moving the culture toward condemning the perpetrator instead of blaming “a lack of civility”? No. At each stage, the push was for wider and deeper record keeping.

I will leave you to speculate as to the “end game” of such record keeping. However, if you were to say that the notion that an extensive federal database of gun buyers will save lives is rather silly, you would be correct.

The people of Tucson are right to honor, and to be proud of the people on the scene of that murderous attack on January 8, 2011. They acted quickly and bravely to help the victims and many sacrificed themselves for others. Alas, there is reason to feel shame too. Of all the people present at that fateful event, there was no one, not one person, who was equipped to respond to the attack. Gunfights are generally over in three to five seconds, only massacres last over twenty.

A citizen with a handgun at the scene could have stopped the carnage. Having that citizen in a database in Washington, D.C. would have helped no one, it’s a silly notion.

One thought on “Gun Control Folks Exploit Giffords Shooting

  1. The second amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees every American the right to bear arms. Has any law ever been so ambiguous? What are arms? What does it mean to bear them? At least with the first amendment we know exactly where we stand: Freedom of speech. It couldn’t be any clearer. But, the right to bear arms leaves the second amendment open to different interpretations. We need gun permits to carry a concealed weapon. Do we need knife permits? No. Yet both can, and often do, cause death. We can own a gun, or a rifle, or a sub-machine gun, or a machete, and dozens of other tools to kill, even our own bare hands. So, gun control is a debate in our country that makes no sense unless you broaden the ban or acceptance to include all instruments of death…’

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