Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

You might have thought that the mangled bodies of 20 dead children would have been enough to overcome the crazed obsessions of the gun lobby.

You might have believed that the courage and exhortations of a former congresswoman — her career cut short and her life forever changed by a would-be assassin’s bullet — would have pushed Congress to do the right thing.

You might have reasoned that polls showing overwhelming public support for a sensible gun control measure would have persuaded politicians to take a modest step toward preventing more massacres.

You would have been wrong. Last week, the U.S. Senate sent a stark message to the citizens it is elected to represent: We couldn’t care less about what you want.

Fifteen years of highly publicized mass murders carried out by madmen with firearms — Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson and Aurora, to name just a few — have changed nothing. Newtown, where 26 people, including 20 young children, were mowed down by a man armed with an assault-type weapon and high-capacity magazines for his ammo, provoked little more than a ripple in the corridors of Washington, where the National Rifle Association and its like-minded lobbies carried the day.

The grip that the gun lobby maintains on Congress is hard to explain. The National Rifle Association has persuaded spineless politicians that it is an omnipotent election god, able to strike down those who don’t cower before it. That’s simply not true, but even if it were, aren’t some principles worth losing elections over?

The proposal that appeared to have the best chance of passage last week was modest enough. It would simply have expanded criminal background checks to include guns sold at gun shows and via the Internet, a step supported by 90 percent of Americans, according to polls.

As its proponents conceded, it would not have stopped the Newtown atrocity. Adam Lanza took his mother’s legally purchased weapons to kill her, to carry out a massacre and to then commit suicide.

But expanded background checks would certainly save other lives, since violent husbands and other criminals have been able to saunter through huge holes in the system to purchase guns. Speaking with justifiable anger after the background-check measure went down to defeat, President Obama noted, “… if action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand … we had an obligation to try.”

In an exhaustive report last week about online purchases of firearms, The New York Times showed clearly why expanded background checks are needed. As the newspaper noted, websites for firearms function as “unregulated bazaars” where sellers offer prospective buyers the following assurance: “no questions asked.” Reporters found persons with criminal records buying and selling guns.

  • The actions and the policies championed by the gun lobby have more to do with sales and profits than the need of citizens to protect themselves against each other or the prevention of tyrannical rule. The recent defeat of a feeble attempt to expand the scope of background checks, ostensibly to protect the right of criminals and people suffering from mental illnesses to buy weapons of their choice, makes absolutely no sense and undermines one of the clauses in the Second Amendment: to have a WELL REGULATED militia. Add to that the effects of some of the policies championed by the NRA, such as banning the use of identifiers (taggants) to trace the source of explosives to expedite crime investigations, and the only thing we can conclude is that not even the Mafia would have gone as far as the NRA to protect the right of criminals.

  • tdm3624

    I didn’t like the Schumer version of background checks but actually liked the Toomey-Manchin amendment and was hoping it would pass. Too bad.

    • leadvillexp

      I agree. Toomey-Manchin wasn’t perfect but it was ok. I have written many about background checks. I suggested a firearms license for all who want to own or use a firearm. It could be attached to the drivers license like Hazmat is on CDLs with a five year background check. It could be used for ammunition purchases also and would not affect the Second Amendment as there would be no registration. I support NRA. People ask why, and the answer is what Coumo and Schumer rammed down our throats in New York. Our Governor acted like a dictator. We are fighting the Safeact and will not stop. The Governor used a “Message of Necessity” to pass the legislation without time for the legislators to even read it. This is why the NRA is so uncompromising. We all need to compromise to get good legislation but neither side is willing and the government sneaks behind your back to get its way.

      • Maybe we have to be sneaky in order to combat the money
        wielded by the NRA.

        • leadvillexp

          There is NO excuse for the government to make laws without the consent of the people. That is called a dictatorship. I saw the Governor of New York on television just yesterday laughing about using the “Message of Necessity” saying it was to much work to use the Legislature. He made other comments to this effect and only after the Media uproar said he was joking. This is not true as he has been using “The Message of Necessity” to pass all sorts of controversial legislation he thinks takes to long. To many Constitutional Rights are being bypassed by officials that think they can make their own laws.

      • TheSkalawag929

        What’s the big deal about registering fire arms, universal background checks on ALL gun purchases and limiting the capacity of magazines?

        • leadvillexp

          I have no problem with background checks but they should be done correctly. It could be done by licensing all firearms owners and users. It could be put on the drivers license with a 5 year background check like is now done for Hazmat on CDLs. When you purchase a firearm or ammo it would just take a swipe of the license. This license would have to be seen at private purchases also and could be called in over the phone. As for registering, the problem is confiscation. A good example is what is happening in New York State where the Governor just banned new purchases of the AR15A2. This rifle is used in most military and civilian marksmanship shoots. Old ones are grandfathered in but no more new ones. This will make it very hard for anyone that wants to compete in National Matchs in the future. The older ones now have to be registered and could be confiscated whenever the State or Governor decides.

          • TheSkalawag929

            If by “done correctly” you mean that ALL gun sale are to be subject to background checks I agree.

            As far as your reason to worry about confiscation that to me is a Trojan Horse.

            Military marksmanship shoots would be unaffected because that weapon or one better will be available to the military already.

            As for the civilian side all I can say is “oh well”. For me Marksmanship Matches or otherwise are not a good enough reason for owning that type of weapon. But that’s just my take on the subject.

  • tranz2deep

    The Ridiculous Right is an embarrassment to any conservative thinker remaining (Neo-conservatives are about as genuinely conservative as Gordon Gecko).
    They cannot compromise and it is impossible to compromise with them. I just wish that President Obama finally gets the message about that after this sorry debacle.

  • tranz2deep

    As the Second Amendment has a clause that the militia be well regulated, might we please have the NRA leadership charged with attacking the Second Amendment?
    I’d like to see the apoplexy that results..

  • charleo1

    Which is more dangerous, a voter without a picture ID. Or a felon, with a
    documented penchant for sticking a gun in people’s faces, and robbing them?

    Republicans obviously believe it’s voters. Like the 94 year old lady, who had
    voted in every Presidential election since Roosevelt, was turned away because
    she did not have the proper ID, with her picture on it. Even when, as in her case,
    all the people working at the polling place had known her for years! Come on
    all you rootin’ tootin’ gun toting kooks, with your visions of whipping the Marines,
    if, and when the big bad, government ever goes, and gets all tyrannical on you.

  • rustacus21

    Understanding that safety comes from a disciplined law & order societal configuration, we see better why states w/stricter gun laws have lower %-ages of gun violence. The NRA has no voice here, so let them rant & scream about the 2nd Amendment all they want. We, the People have the 1st, 2nd, 9th Amendments, as well as the entirety of the Constitution to back up our position that we have the right to & must be safer than the criminals’ & psychopath’s right to have access to guns. It’s that plain. It’s that simple. Why our elected representatives don’t understand that, we must inquire as citizens to the states who have legislators who have suddenly become ‘illiterate’ of their instruction manual (the Constitution) & deaf to the voice of the citizenry. Pressure = results! Lets continue to apply & keep it on! Otherwise & AGAIN – we have recall & replacement (come election time)…