So, while the much-touted bi-partisan gun legislation is not final, the details have been widely reported. The politicians pulled off quite a feat. Few are seriously thrilled with the bill, and few are terribly upset with the bill either. That the two opposing political parties can produce a bi-partisan gun bill is, indeed, something about which we can cheer. It’s like the cocker spaniel that gets applauded for walking across the stage on its hind legs; noteworthy not because it was done so well but because it could be done at all.
We should give credit where credit is due, even though the pending legislation is an anemic remedy for an enormous problem. So, in all sincerity, hats off to Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), John Cornyn (R-TX), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
The Democrats got as much as they could, the Republicans gave up as little as they could, and the NRA has to be breathing a mighty sigh of relief. But here’s the thing: even after the bloodshed in Buffalo, the murder of young innocents in Uvalde, and the ever-repeating occurrence of mass shootings using these military lookalike and shootalike weapons, no one can touch the ridiculous availability to teens of AR-15 or AK-47 semi-automatic weapons—kids who aren’t old enough to buy a can of beer in 24 states. Want to buy a handgun? Only if you’re 21 in every state in America. How about an AR-15 or AK-47 semi-automatic rifle? Eighteen years of age will do just fine. You just don’t have to be the most profound thinker to know something is terribly wrong with this picture.
While I haven’t fired a semi-automatic weapon since completing Air Force basic training many years ago, I am not a knee-jerk anti-gun guy. I have close family and close friends who are responsible gun owners. Some are avid hunters, and some feel more secure with a handgun safely secured in their homes. No problem. Responsible gun ownership doesn’t bother me at all. The lack of responsible gun laws does.
While I assume there may be big-game hunters who own semi-automatic rifles with high-volume magazines, the hunters I know scoff at the notion of firing 10 or 15 rapid rounds at a deer, or a grizzly for that matter. That’s not sport hunting; that’s simply mowing down some creature in the wild. Frankly, if someone decides to go into bear country with a semi-automatic rifle equipped with a high-volume magazine, I’m inclined to root for the grizzly.
While most everyone is pleased to see Republicans and Democrats working to produce some bipartisan legislation that at least addresses some of the steps that could be taken to curb gun violence, the National Rifle Association is, predictably, reserving judgment. The gun group said it does not comment on frameworks and will wait until there is a final bill before weighing in. Fair enough. Then the gun group released a statement confirming its opposition to anything compromising the robust market for lethal weapons. “We encourage our elected officials to provide more resources to secure our schools, fix our severely broken mental health system, and support law enforcement. The NRA will continue to oppose any effort to insert gun control policies and initiatives that override constitutional due process protections and efforts to deprive law-abiding citizens of their fundamental right to protect themselves and their loved ones into this or any other legislation.” Please!
The NRA’s disconnect from reality is, of course, illustrated by the notion that today the founders would object to any laws or regulations designed to keep out of the hands of teens lethal semi-automatic weapons that fire ammo capable of obliterating and pulverizing whatever it strikes in the human body. For starters, there were no such weapons when the founders provided the Second Amendment to protect the new country against an American standing army that might go rogue. Also, the founders had no way of knowing the extent of anti-social violence these weapons would unleash against their fellow citizens. They would be horrified to contemplate their words being used to keep the nation from responding to a national travesty. The founders would roll over in their graves at such lunacy being advanced in their names. Insisting that the US Constitution requires such unrestricted access to these weapons by teenagers so that they can defend America against the men and women who serve in America’s armed forces is both bizarre and disingenuous.
The emerging gun legislation is undoubtedly good as far as it goes. The bi-partisan bill would establish so-called Red Flag laws that would attempt to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves or others. No doubt, such screening would lessen the ability of some to acquire these lethal weapons. Still, it is wishful thinking to believe that we can identify enough troubled would-be gun owners to reduce gun violence in America significantly.
Similarly, the provisions in the emerging legislation for significant investments in mental health and suicide prevention programs, including crisis and trauma intervention and recovery provisions are, of course, laudable. However, the impact of these provisions on the incidence of gun violence is entirely speculative.
There are other half-a-loaf compromises in the emerging legislation. Instead of prohibiting the sale of semi-automatic weapons to eighteen-year-old kids, the legislation would provide expanded background checks for gun purchasers between 18 and 21. The draft legislation would also deal with the so-called “boyfriend loophole” so that dating partners who engage in domestic violence would be subject to the same restrictions on the books that prevent convicted domestic abusers from buying a gun.
Most experts agree that these provisions would probably have minimal impact on gun violence because most cases of this nature do not involve perpetrators with any prior history of gun violence. We, as a nation, are doing nothing to effectively deal with the widespread availability, even to eighteen-year-olds, of semi-automatic weapons in America because we’ve been sold the nonsense that the founders would not want us to. So, for at least the last decade, we’ve essentially avoided doing anything to curb the availability of semi-automatic weapons or any other weapon used in mass shootings in America.
Unfortunately, others have done quite a bit during that same period of time.
UVALDE, TEXAS: MAY 24, 2022. 21 DEAD – BUFFALO, NEW YORK: MAY 14, 2022. 10 DEAD – SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA: MAY 26, 2021. 9 DEAD – BOULDER, COLORADO: MARCH 22, 2021. 10 DEAD – ATLANTA, GEORGIA: MARCH 16, 2021. 8 DEAD – MIDLAND, TEXAS: AUGUST 31, 2019. 7 DEAD – DAYTON, OHIO: AUGUST 4, 2019. 9 DEAD – EL PASO, TEXAS: AUGUST 3, 2019. 23 DEAD – VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA: MAY 31, 2019. 12 DEAD – THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIA: NOVEMBER 7, 2018. 12 DEAD – PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA: OCTOBER 27, 2018. 11 DEAD – SANTA FE, TEXAS: MAY. 18, 2018. 10 DEAD – PARKLAND, FLORIDA: FEBRUARY 14, 2018. 17 DEAD – SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TEXAS: NOVEMBER 5, 2017. 25 DEAD – LAS VEGAS, NEVADA: OCTOBER 1, 2017. 58 DEAD – ORLANDO, FLORIDA: JUNE 12, 2016. 49 DEAD – SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA: DEC. 2, 2015. 14 DEAD – ROSEBURG, OREGON: OCTOBER 1, 2015. 10 DEAD – CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: JUNE 17, 2015. 9 DEAD – WASHINGTON DC, NAVY YARD: SEPTEMBER 16, 2013. 12 DEAD – NEWTOWN, CONNECTICUT: DECEMBER 14, 2012. 26 DEAD – AURORA, COLORADO: JULY 20, 2012. 12 DEAD.
Add to these totals the shootings that occur regularly in so many major cities every week, and the tragedy of such organized opposition to reasonable and sensible gun control is a national tragedy.