So what was the problem with the proposed bills from the Democrats? TL;DR – they wanted people to prove their innocence, eliminated due process, and a host of other issues.
The Republican’s put up two alternative bills in order to quell public fears:
Grassley Senate Amendment 4751
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley’s piece of legislation aimed to bolster the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) through increased funding. Other than Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, Democrats voted against the measure,
Looks like the Democratic party isn’t for bolstering the NICS system.
The Republicans also put a bill up allowing use of the Terror Watchlists to deny gun sales provided the feds could show probable cause:
Senate Amendment 4749
Another bill, put forth by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, would have allowed a federal judge to block a gun sale pending there is probable cause that an individual “has committed or will commit an act of terrorism.”
I love Reason’s articles so very, very much. I can always count on them to be levelheaded when it comes to this topic:
This week, in an editorial titled “Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Gun Violence,” The New York Times noted that “less than 5 percent of gun homicides between 2001 and 2010 were committed by people with diagnoses of mental illness.” The week before last, in a front-page editorial titled “End the Gun Epidemic in America,” the Times urged Congress to ban “the slightly modified combat rifles used in California,” a.k.a. “assault weapons” (although the rifles used in the San Bernardino massacre did not qualify for that label under California law). FBI data indicate that rifles in general, which include many guns that are not considered “assault weapons,” were used in about 2 percent of homicides (and 3 percent of gun homicides) last year.
Why does the Times understand percentages when it comes to people with psychiatric diagnoses but not when it comes to people with guns? Probably because fear and loathing of firearms prevent its editorialists from thinking straight. But in light of these numbers, it seems quite unlikely that a ban on so-called assault weapons—even if it somehow eliminated the millions of “assault weapons” already in circulation, and even if murderers did not simply switch to other, equally lethal guns—would have a noticeable impact on gun violence, let alone that it would “end the gun epidemic in America.”
Why isn’t anyone else pointing out the double standards? Why is it ok to paint gun owners with the broadest brush possible and use guilt-by-association tactics to imply we’re all mass murderers or borderline psychotics, while every effort is made to diminish any similar claims about other groups?
The New York Times decided that the San Bernardino shooting was so outrageous that they decided to vent their spleen by publishing their first Front Page Editorial in Forever… and it was on Gun Control.
It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.
And those “barely modified” guns that are “weapons of war” are semi automatic rifles that aren’t even firing bullets big enough to hunt deer with in most states. The New York Times wants them banned though, despite not knowing what they are. In this display of stunning ignorance, they are joined by the President of the United States
We will always self-correct as time goes on and sooner or later, America gets what America wants. However, the founders set an intentionally high bar on altering the rights they fought to secure. A simple majority won’t get it done, but a morally outraged nation can make it happen quite quickly. Yes, the founders perhaps didn’t foresee the advancement of modern weapons of war, but they didn’t foresee women getting the right to vote either. It was a moral outrage and national disgrace that women couldn’t vote at one point in our nation’s history, but when America woke up to realize that, they changed the constitution to reflect it. For that reason, I am not ashamed of America.
However, I would be ashamed of an America that allowed women to vote, but said they had to complete 20 pull-ups to do so. I would be ashamed of an America that prohibited a poll tax, but charged $500 for parking outside a polling station. I would be ashamed of an America who says we have the right to free speech, but makes words that could be offensive or hurt someone’s feelings criminal as apparently 40% of millennials would preference. I would be ashamed of an America that said 18-year-olds had the right to vote, but they had to prove they weren’t an absolute idiot first. Now wait, that last one is actually not a bad idea. But the point is, if it was indeed a moral outrage as you called it, then America would respond as we always have in kind. It is called the 2nd Amendment because it is literally the 2nd one on the list, not an afterthought. To alter it with anything less than the constitution itself would in fact be, a moral outrage and national disgrace.
The response goes on to point out that the NYT recently published an article dismissing the danger of so called “assault weapons” –
Do you know how many people have been killed in America by assault weapons? I’m sure you have fact checkers out there, but wouldn’t that be an interesting number to publish so that we can determine the scope of this moral outrage. Actually, you already did that last September in another editorial you titled, The Assault Weapon Myth. I attached a link so you can refresh your memory.
In my opinion, the most important paragraph is the one compares these strident screams to “do something” to other political hot topics:
You know that feeling you get when states pass Voter ID laws and you believe it to be an infringement on a person’s right to vote? Despite the fact that anyone can easily get an ID, you believe the hurdle put in place to be much more nefarious that it seems. That is kind what supporters of the 2ndAmendment are feeling right now. I support voter ID laws in the same manner I am ok with background checks and some basic mental health component for a gun purchase. Both can be very dangerous and lead to an infringement of a basic constitutional right, but if done well and aggressively kept in check, harmless.
Dave Kopel again speaks wisdom with this guest post in WaPo’s The Volokh Conspiracy column:
By far the single most effective step we could take to reduce violent crime would be to greatly increase spending to help the severely mentally ill. The biggest crime reduction would be fewer crimes against the mentally ill, since they are more vulnerable than the general population, and are victimized at a much higher rate. The mass murderers in Tucson and Aurora could have been committed for observation and treatment under existing state laws, with due process protections, but people who knew about the danger failed to take the appropriate steps. More broadly, there are many persons with severe mental illness who voluntarily seek temporary hospitalization, but who are turned away due to insufficient treatment capacity. Greater spending to help the mentally ill today will more than pay for itself in the long run, by reducing criminal justice and incarceration costs. (The mental health issue is addressed in greater detail in my forthcoming article in Howard Law Journal.)
Dylan Roof, pictured below, was a poster boy of how the system has failed to stop mass shootings yet again.
He killed 9 and wounded 1, seeking out South Carolina State Senator Clementa C. Pinckney, who was the pastor for the church.
In the days after the shooting took place, the narrative began to take shape – Roof had been arrested for drug possession. Roof was awaiting trial. Somehow he’d gotten a gun – early reports stated that Roof had been given it by family. It seemed like this was going to be seized upon as evidence that Universal Background Checks needed to be passed, lest another tragedy like this take place.
The Narrative had changed. Robbed of their opportunity to blame the “gun show loophole” for this atrocity, the people upset by this pivoted and went after another the Confederate Flag which was prominently featured in Roof’s social media profile and symbolized the racist views expressed in his manifesto.
When Australia had a mass killing – I think it was in Tasmania – about 25 years ago, it was just so shocking the entire country said ‘well we’re going to completely change our gun laws’, and they did. And it hasn’t happened since.
This was important, because Australia did several things: They banned multiple classes of firearms, and they confiscated privately owned weapons under the guise of a mandatory “buy back”.
Never before has this been suggested at such a high level in this country. Previously politicians may have suggested confiscation obliquely, or in unguarded moment, but for a sitting President to state it outright was an eye opening moment.
A few weeks later, on July 16, there was another mass shooting. In contrast to the Charlestown one, this shooting was carried out by a self-radicalized homegrown Islamic extremist decided to target a Chattanooga, TN recruiting office and then a Navy Reserves center. Local law enforcement chased him down, and killed him shortly thereafter.
FBI officials and the media quickly played down any attempt to classify the shooter as a “terrorist” despite him travelling to Jordan shortly before the attack took place.
The perpetrator was revealed to be Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who carried out the attack with an AK-47 style rifle, a pistol, and possibly a shotgun. Four Marines were killed at the scene while Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith died later at a hospital.
“Some of the weapons were purchased legally and some of them may not have been,”
Attempts were made to try to highlight the need for a renewed assault weapons ban, others wanted to focus on Armslist. Instead, the public reacted in a wholly unexpected way; they were outraged that military personnel were unable to defend themselves.
Paradoxically, though, people remembered that the military areas were gun free zones – press pool photos and footage showed the front doors of the Marine recruiting center riddled with bullet holes, next to a “Firearms Prohibited” sign.
The Safeguarding Service Members’ Second Amendment Rights Act, would repeal bans on military personnel carrying firearms on Armed Forces military installations and Department of Defense (DoD) sites and prohibit the president, secretary of defense andsecretaries of military departments from enacting similar restrictions or prohibitions in the future.
You could practically see the antigun talking heads rubbing their hands with glee over this. They had their perfect example for why gun laws needed to change. Clearly there was no way that this guy had gotten his gun legally, right?
Turns out that despite a well documented history of domestic violence, arson, and involuntary commitment, Houser was never actually prosecuted. All of this could have been avoided had he been convicted for arson back in 1989, and “[c]ourt documents filed as part of a divorce say Houser had a history of hospitalizations for mental conditions.”
We have tried an experiment for the last 250 years and it’s failed miserably and we have to start a new approach. The new approach has to be guns should not be available to people generally, except if they have a significant need.
Surprisingly, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was actually ahead of this wave, stating in early July:
“I’m going to speak out against the uncontrollable use of guns in our country because I believe we can do better,” Clinton said Tuesday in Iowa City.
A few days earlier, she said in Hanover, N.H.: “We have to take on the gun lobby. . . . This is a controversial issue. I am well aware of that. But I think it is the height of irresponsibility not to talk about it.”
Fake update: It would appear that I’m not alone in noticing this trend:
Business Insider: The dark reason why guns are virtually guaranteed to be a major issue of the 2016 campaign
After years of ducking presidential-campaign battles over gun laws out of fear of the powerful gun lobby, it appears that Democrats are finally ready to go on the offensive.
Democrats are becoming more and more outspoken about gun violence in the wake of seemingly ever increasing mass shootings, despite the fact that the American public remains as opposed as ever to many gun-control measures
It remains to be seen whether this represents a turning point in election politics, or a repeat of Clinton’s 1994 mistake.