I Support Gabby

From Gabrielle Giffords:

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://www.kyleleaman.com Kyle Leaman

    Scot, do find any objection to Gabby’s rhetorical approach here? I’m quite back and forth on the issue itself, but I find myself completely recoiling from the fantastical self-righteousness in her posturing. Those who are on the other side are giving in to fear and cold political calculations. She leaves no room for reasoned opposition without becoming a moral monster who doesn’t understand her own violent encounter as well as the multiple recent shooting incidents

  • Bruce Barnard

    I pray they take all the NRA money they can get, AND their opponents get backing from the billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC…he’s proven he’ll toss his money to folks who support reasonable gun legislation, and that his money can help take down pro-NRA politicians…

  • Matt Blackmon

    I would disagree. They did not decide to “do nothing”–they decided to vote no for a fundamentally flawed bill that by almost all non-partisan evaluations would have minimal to no impact on gun control, gun violence, mental health issues (a major crux of the issue), or the types of weapons used recently in Sandy Hook–the only “assault weapons” deployed were those used by law enforcement.

    How were they cowardly? The implication is that they were afraid of offending the NRA and not be re-elected. Why would they not be re-elected? Because a majority of the votes in their representative areas would vote against them because they did not represent the will of the voter. Cowardly? Hardly.

    I am no Republican, and certainly not a supporter of the NRA, but rhetoric such as this offers only heat, and not light. The public tantrum of our President over this issue has more in common with a stunt at daycare than a leader who needs to lead in this critical issue–one that has been critical since 1999 and Columbine, but has been largely ignored.

    We need to develop serious answers to this serious problem. An ineffective piece of legislation offers only false hope and an illusion. We need to address the issue of mental health, violence, and the related issues. We need a real solution. Enough politics. Enough grandstanding.

    Get to work representatives. Develop some real solutions.

  • http://www.donnypauling.net/about/ Donny Pauling

    I support the numerous gun owners who DO NOT kill ANYONE each day. We can call many of them “Gabby Protectors” whose very existence keeps such things from happening more than we’ll ever know.

    People like Feinstein have made it clear that their goal is far more aggressive than these initial bills. Once we start down the path, it’s not going to stop. In my opinion, the Senate did the right thing.

  • TomH

    I trend with Matt 2 . . .I am for serious solutions. I find it notable that the bombers in Boston are at fault. But the guns are at fault in shootings. I am not a pro NRA guy, don’t own a gun anymore, but I am a pro “mental health” issue guy and NOBODY is even trying to address this serious issue. One that impacts more than guns by the way. May the Lord have Mercy as we try to find real solutions.

  • Rick

    Although I am hopeful for some new legislation, her comments did not help.

    “We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.”

    She should not be so dismissive of that response. There are constitutional questions involved.

    “These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.”

    As one opinion piece said, such rhetoric such not help bridge the divide. It only makes the sides dig in their heels.

  • Morbert

    Tomh (3),

    “I find it notable that the bombers in Boston are at fault. But the guns are at fault in shootings.”

    You actually raise an interesting point. Does the 2nd amendment guarantee the right to explosive devices? I would certainly hope not.

    Also, while I am generally very sceptical of gun control, I don’t think gun-control advocates are saying guns kill people. Instead, they are saying guns facilitate homicides in a manner that results in America having the highest murder rate among the developed world.

  • scotmcknight

    Kyle, have you done the same in your response back to her? With: “completely recoiling” and “fantastical self-righteousness” and “posturing” and “no room” and — wow — “moral monster” … politics involves rhetoric. I saw the same in the President’s similar rhetoric yesterday.

  • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

    For those who feel that the bill is fundamentally flawed, How would you improve it?

  • Larry Chouinard

    Why not put it on the table what you’d do to stop gun violence that the recent proposal failed to do? Usually all I hear are vague threats of what the bill would do to law abiding gun owner. Show me where these Senators have an alternative proposal with real teeth to address the issue. Even a speed bump slows the traffic! And who said this is the last of the efforts to address the issue. I’m sorry but efforts to defend these Senators lacks much ethical punch.

  • EricG

    For those defending the vote, I’d like to understand what they find specifically bad about the legislation? A huge majority of Americans think background checks should be done.

    I don’t feel like getting into a debate – just want to understand what the other side is thinking.

  • http://jewishchristianintersections.com/ Larry

    Matt #2, I agree with you about the question of heat and light. We’ve developed bad habits in the way we conduct political debate. We do not engage our opponents – we demonize them. Unfortunately, there are disturbing parallels between the way we discuss politics and the way we discuss religion — a topic for another time. Given that you understand the difference between light and heat, I ask that you reconsider using phrases like “public tantrum” and “daycare”. These are “heat” phrases, and in the remainder of your comment, you’ve shown that you’re capable of much better.

    Like any well-funded lobby, the NRA can affect the outcome of an election while representing the views of a small minority of the electorate. Money talks, and more money speaks more persuasively. The NRA money need not be used to talk about guns. Like any one-issue lobby, the NRA need not represent the majority of the electorate to sway an election … so long as a measurable minority of the electorate vote based on that single issue. From what I’ve seen, some opponents of gun control will cast votes based on that issue alone. If these gun control opponents represent even 10% of the swing vote in a given electorate, this gives the NRA considerable power.

    I question whether the opposition to this bill was based, as you suggested, on the determination that the bill would “do nothing”. I agree that the bill was flawed, and that the “real solution” is something more sweeping and visionary. But that’s no reason to oppose a small step in the right direction. Effective solutions are often built on small steps.

  • Dean

    Just another sterling example of government of the powerful, by the powerful and for the powerful. In our nation, money = political power and money prompted the outcome for this bill.

  • http://redemptivethoughts.com John H.Guthrie

    This bill would not have prevented the Newtown shooting. Adam Lanza used guns which were his mother’s, not his.

  • jason

    “But the guns are at fault in shootings.”

    From what I understand, this piece of legislation did nothing to curb the right to own a gun, or to prohibit certain types of guns. This was about expanding background checks and closing loopholes. Which is to say, this legislation did not target guns but the people who could potentially misuse guns.

    “they decided to vote no for a fundamentally flawed bill that by almost all non-partisan evaluations would have minimal to no impact on gun control…”

    Any and every attempt, whether strident or lenient, whether targeting specific types of guns or simply background checks, is deemed “fundamentally flawed” both those in the NRA etc. I agree that mental health is ANOTHER issue that needs to be addressed. But why can we not start with reasonable regulations that can help prevent those who so easily bypass checks in order to gain access to guns?

  • Dean

    Just another sterling example of government of the powerful, by the powerful and for the powerful. In our nation, money = political power and money prompted the outcome for this bill. The greatest bondage a free people can have is the failure to exercise responsible collective self-discipline. We can only expect more unnecessary violent events than would otherwise occur but failing to set some healthy boundaries for ourselves.

  • http://www.kyleleaman.com Kyle Leaman

    I don’t think I have Scot, though it’s very possible I’m wrong. I think the main difference being that Gabby is claiming to know the true motives behind those who voted against the bill were because of fear and political calculation, not honest disagreement. She implies that even though those in the opposition met with gun violence victims, they hearts could not be swayed from the path of fear and calculations. I am not claiming special insight into Gabby’s motives but trying to critique the consequences of her rhetorical approach, which I think postures herself as self-righteous and her opponents as moral monsters. I think it’s fair to say I didn’t engage in personal characterization based on some claim to special knowledge of her motives.

  • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

    John #14
    I don’t think that anyone in Newtown thinks that this legislation would have fixed what happened. However, like fixing any problem, you have to start somewhere. By the way, if there had been a restriction on magazine size, there probably would have been less causalities. Kids did escape while he was changing magazines.

  • PJ Condit

    What’s not working in Congress these days are “comprehensive” solutions. If you want universal background checks, write a one page bill for it…instead we get 100 page monsters with each senator’s stipulations, and of course, one person’s stipulation is another’s boundary line.

    I’m all for universal background checks, especially at gun shows. Or make the background check available prior to purchase, so that all sales are credible. But a bill that tries to do everything will accomplish nothing. Next up: comprehensive immigration and it’s gonna fail.

  • Rick

    EricG #11-

    One of the big concerns is that the wording of the legislation could lead to the establishment of a federal gun registry.

  • Kyle J

    Re: “constitutional questions” – What exactly does “A WELL REGULATED militia…” mean? Regulated except by any regulations someone actually proposes?

    Re: “real solutions” – If the goal is to keep guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens, what can be more “real” than check to see if people buying guns are, in fact, law-abiding? Or maybe that’s not the goal, since the status quo seems to quite acceptable to the NRA.

    Anyone on the pro-NRA side of this better never talk about “leadership” again. The president and Ms. Giffords have 90% of the American people and a clear majority of the U.S. Senate (representing nearly 200 million people) on their side. The other side offers nothing but conspiracy theories and policy vagaries. Ms. Giffords’ outrage is quite well justified in my opinion.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/gun-checks-out-poll-mother-teresa-90229.html

  • Dave

    So, the senators threw out argument by outrage and illogical appeals to emotion and that is a bad thing? Not to mention this law would not have done ONE SINGLE THING to prevent Newtown.

    Besides, the notion that anything resembling “common-sense legislation” has crossed across the desks of Congress in the last 20 years is almost laughable.

  • EricG

    Thanks Rick (20). The legislation expressly prohibits a federal firearms registry though. (See section 103(2)). What are the other objections?

  • Kyle J

    @Rick #20

    Slippery slope arguments are for people who don’t have any actual arguments.

    Should we do away with background checks at established retailers? No difference.

    Pure black helicopter paranoia to think the federal government is coming after everyone’s guns at some point, when we can’t get a single gun control amendment through the U.S. Senate in the face of these kinds of national tragedies.

  • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

    @ Rick #20

    I will believe this when gun owners stop showing up to public events packing. I will believe this when gun stores stop taking credit cards and checks. The truth is that it doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to figure out who owns guns. This is straight out of the 1950s hysteria started by the John Birch Society.

  • kent

    I do not own a gun. I do not want a gun. I am not even pro-gun. What I am is watching a nation struggle to make sense of something horrific and they are failing. We have gun laws. We have restrictions. So you want more, fine. Take away assault weapons, restrict the capacity of magazines. Do background checks on anyone. That still will not stop those who are determined to do this. That will not make schools safer, it will not stop those without regard for the law from harming others. But what it does do it give the appearance that we are doing something. And that is the key.

    Those who are clamoring for the law want to do something ,anything, even something that has no chance of making a difference because doing nothing is unacceptable. Sandyhook would not have been prevented by the law that failed yesterday. But the president, the lawmakers have been seen to be doing something. Just look at all the energy that has been expended on actions that have accomplished nothing.

    With the heighten emotions and polarizing rhetoric that has become the norm in this issue the odds for a solution that does make sense and will accomplish what is necessary minuscule.

  • Kyle J

    @kent

    What’s necessary? And who’s proposing it?

    If you don’t tackle an issue when it’s in the news, when will you tackle it?

    Should we only adopt solutions that are perfect?

  • Rick

    EricG #23-

    They don’t think it “expressly prohibits”.

    From the Heritage Foundation:
    “Due to the sloppy drafting of the Schumer-Toomey-Manchin (“STM”) legislation, and hopefully not to the intent of the Senators, the legislation could lead to starting a federal gun registry.
    The STM bill fuzzes up the law prohibiting a federal gun registry. First, the legislation says that nothing in the legislation shall be construed to allow establishment of a federal firearms registry. In addition, it says that the Attorney General may not consolidate or centralize records of firearms acquisition and disposition maintained by licensed importers, manufacturers, and dealers, and by buyers and sellers at gun shows (and makes it a crime for him to do so)…the STM bill takes those protections away by using the all-powerful word “notwithstanding”—”notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Attorney General may implement this subsection with regulations.” The courts may construe the “notwithstanding” to allow Attorney General Eric Holder to issue regulations that could begin to create a federal registry of firearms, because the law says he can implement the subsection without regard to the protections against a registry elsewhere in the legislation.
    The courts view the word “notwithstanding” as very powerful. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said in 1989 in Crowley Caribbean Transport v. U.S. in reference to the phrase “notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter” that “a clearer statement of intent is difficult to imagine” to push aside other laws. The same court indicated in 1991 in Liberty Maritime Corporation v. U.S. that a grant of authority to a department head to be exercised “notwithstanding” any other law generally grants the broadest possible discretion to the department head. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 1992 in Conoco, Inc. v. Skinner took a somewhat different approach, in which the judges themselves divine the congressional intent whether to let the word “notwithstanding” in a law override other conflicting provisions of the same law.”

  • http://jmsmith.org JM Smith

    As I said on your FB feed, Scot, I believe this is an issue that should be decided by the States so that people have more control over how their own communities are governed. It is a discipleship issue, as you noted…but it is concerned with how best to politically handle potential dangers that we face in our communities. Different states have different needs and it would be more beneficial to see how different states handle guns among their populations. This would move away from ideological rhetorical stances that people often take in national debates and allow for actual results to be tested and examined empirically. As I said on FB, the needs and concerns surrounding guns in Idaho or Alaska are different than those of New Jersey or Florida. Let the state legislatures determine this rather than trying to do it at the Federal level (which only creates redundant bureaucracy and expense).

  • scotmcknight

    JM Smith,

    For me, any step toward the elimination of guns, esp assault weapons designed to do nothing but destroy human lives, is a step in the right direction. I’m for what Gabby stands for: moderation (and I would say a radical solution is even better).

    To appeal to States vs Feds is to appeal to the US Const to decide what is best, but for the Christian the “best” is to follow Jesus into the path of Shalom. I cannot fathom assault weapons — whoever decides about them — as consistent with the cross, with the path of Jesus, with Shalom. Makes no sense to me.

  • T

    Rick (or others against this bill),

    Do you truly believe that this bill would create a federal gun registry? And secondly, does that actually concern you? Vehicles are registered to their owners. Land is registered to owners. I don’t see the 2nd amendment as an impediment to having records of gun ownership, whether its the Feds or otherwise.

    Also, I’ve heard many opponents to the bill say that it would have little success in preventing the mentally ill or previously violent from obtaining guns. Can someone tell me why we shouldn’t step up the requirement for background checks, and achieve that small measure of success in making gun purchase harder for those who would fail such a background check? Is small improvement a bad thing? The only arguments I’ve heard so far in that vein have been red herrings, which makes Giffords’ money claim more and more reasonable.

  • Phil Miller

    I don’t own guns either, not really a Republican (not a registered anything other than just a registered voter here in Minnesota, actually), but I guess I fail to see how not passing a a very weak law that would probably do very little is seen as a huge failure. I guess people are upset because they see it as Washington’s inability to do anything. That perhaps is the case.

    I kind of agree that at some point, it doesn’t make sense to do something just for the sake of doing something. No, there’s no such thing as a perfect law or a perfect solution, but there are certainly such things as bad ones.

    The things about guns and America is that this isn’t something that is going to be changed by law very easily. It’s going to take time and a change in people’s attitudes. It will probably be a matter of generations, not years. We decided a long, long time ago that we collectively love guns.

  • kent

    Kyle J,

    What exactly is the problem? Gun ownership? I don’t think so. There are a multitude of responsible gun owners. Violence, a culture of violence? We just had a bombing. Do we register everyone who uses fertilizer? We limit the size of pressure cookers? What if we banned guns period and instead of a guns Sandyhook was the result of bomb. We would be looking a far higher body count.

    Gun are the low hanging fruit of that tragic day. They are easiest thing to go after. Mental illness, hate, civil immaturity, a pervasive anger that covers our country. Take the guns, and when the next horrific event occurs, and it will, what will be the next thing we grab on to? Focusing on guns is the easy and lazy avenue. The problems are far deeper and more complex.

  • John

    I don’t think it’s over. Lawmakers will continue to re-draft until a compromise is reached and -something- is passed. With all the bumbling things that conservative lawmakers have been doing lately, you would think they have a party-wide suicide pact or something.

    My son is interested in constitutional law and was pointing out to me that the 2nd Amendment’s intent is anything but clear. He was citing old SC decisions to prove his point, and made some very bright arguments. We live in a rural area and own guns for both predator control and target-trap sports. I’m fine with stricter controls, to a point, but do remain concerned about growing government intrusion into liberty and privacy.

    And speaking of wine-fueled writing, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/04/03/176121775/from-vine-to-pen-theres-more-than-one-way-wine-fuels-writing

  • Rick

    T-

    “Rick (or others against this bill)”

    I never said I was against this bill. I am simply pointing out that both sides should cool the rhetoric or nothing will be done.

  • Mike

    I guess getting shot affords you the right to judge someone’s motives and reasoning when they vote against your interests. If the polls are correct then her assumption is ridiculous. The only fear these senators would have is of the 90% that would vote them out for disagreeing with them. It would be nice if the rhetoric was toned down and people were allowed to vote without judgement cast. It might feel good to “support” Abby but it doesn’t pass the test of reasoning, humility or understanding.

  • T

    JM,

    Yes and no. As in many areas, the Feds can set broad policy that makes sense for all states, and then each state or even city can add to that base policy. IMO, the Feds are well suited to require the background checks across the nation, and other parts of the gun business, as part of their role to regulate commerce that impacts multiple states.

  • EricG

    Rick,

    I’m a lawyer, and the language in the bill – “nothing in the legislation shall be construed to allow establishment of a federal firearms registry,” as a “rule of construction,” is airtight; someone making a contrary argument would get thrown out of court fast. Plus, existing law already prohibits such registries.

    The notwithstanding language is pretty typical – it just says that notwithstanding the legislation, regulations can be adopted – not that the regulations can ignore the text of the legislation. No court has ever interpreted similar language otherwise and it wouldn’t make sense.

    I don’t understand what opponents of the bill fear will happen.

  • EricG

    Also, if it were just a question over the opponents’ confusion with the language, that could have been fixed by any legislative aid within 5 minutes. Easy fix.

  • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

    @Kent #33
    First, if you buy large amounts of fertilizer, you are required to be ID’d. May not have to pass a background check, but your name and address will be recorded by the seller. Fertilizer also has a chemical tag in it so that it can be traced back to manufacture if necessary.

    Second, because the NRA is so paranoid, gunpowder has no chemical tracer in it. I believe that bombs in Boston used gunpowder.

    Focusing on guns is a first step in a long process. It does not solve all, it begins the journey.

  • T

    EricG,

    Ditto here.

    Phil Miller,

    You said, as many have, that this bill would accomplish little, but then said that there are “bad” bills. Can anyone (not just Phil) explain to me how this is a bad bill, if it is? If the worst that can be said of it is that it would only prevent a relative few criminals and/or mentally ill folks from getting guns, can someone tell me how that’s a reason to vote against it? Also, I think part of the reason that people are upset at the defeat of this bill is that it is both relatively modest in what it attempts to do and how (even the NRA used to endorse background checks), and, symbolically, it is the first Congressional attempt in over a decade to restrict gun purchases by anyone, and, even though the measures are broadly supported by the public, it was defeated. Right or wrong, it sends the message that the gun lobby owns the Senate. I’m waiting for someone to explain to me why it is a bad bill.

  • Phil Miller

    I should clarify that I am not necessarily saying that this bill was a bad bill. I honestly did not care enough about it to read up a lot on it. My gut feeling, though, is that when you see politicians lining up to pass something relatively quickly after an event, that they are doing more for the potential PR victories and political capital it would gain them more than the principle surrounding the issue.

  • Rob

    Nope, I don’t support her. First of all, anyone with any common sense would know that any of the political solutions proposed so far will have no effect on these types of shootings. Most of the shootings in the US are gang related anyway, and gun laws have zero affect on them. It’s a different problem, and not the guns fault, that gun violence is bad. I don’t want legal gun owners to be treated as criminals. I also disagree with anything that requires gun owners to spend more money to be licensed, certified, or taxed in any way because it makes gun ownership available only the wealthy, which isn’t right.
    Additionally, there are north of 300 million guns already in this country, any solution that simply addressed the purchases of new guns is bound to fail. Guns are a durable good, if taken care of they can last 100 years. I’d wager that we’ll more guns in the US tomorrow, and more the day after that, etc.

  • Phil Miller

    I think this article actually brings up a good point on the whole issue of a majority of Americans supporting the bill. There’s a difference between thinking something like expanded background checks is a good idea and actually really caring all that much about the issue.

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/04/gun-control-bill-dead

    How did this happen even though, as liberals remind us endlessly, 90 percent of the American public supports background checks? Because about 80 percent of those Americans think it sounds like a reasonable idea but don’t really care much. I doubt that one single senator will suffer at the polls in 2014 for voting against Manchin-Toomey.

    Gun control proposals poll decently all the time. But the plain truth is that there are only a small number of people who feel really strongly about it, and they mostly live in urban blue districts already. Outside of that, pro-gun control opinion is about an inch deep. This is a classic case where poll literalism leads you completely astray. Without measuring intensity of feeling, that 90 percent number is meaningless.

  • T

    Dave (22),

    Maybe you (or anyone!) can tell me how background check requirements to buy a gun are a bad idea or one that lacks common sense. So far, the biggest reason that I see in this conversation that this was supposedly a bad bill is that it might (gasp!) lead to a gun registry (double gasp!!). As I expressed above, I fail to see the horror of records of vehicle ownership, land ownership or gun ownership.

  • EricW

    Taranto rebuts Giffords:

    Gabby Giffords Poisons the Well
    The incivility and unreason of her case for gun control.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324493704578430771447679726.html

  • Barb

    So SHE shows “incivility and unreason”—what about the outright lies told by the NRA about what the bill would do. There are many reasons to have passed this bill (even though in my mind I wanted much more done)–the best reason is that we want to be a civilized society not a violent society. We should be able to take steps in that direction. I see no lack of civility in what Gabby said. and yes, she was shot in the head –her voice counts. I also stand with Gabby.

  • T

    Rob,

    Actually, most of the gun-related deaths, by far, are suicides (about two-thirds of all gun-related deaths). Again, I think that background checks that prevent some folks with mental illnesses from buying a gun are a step in the right direction on that front as well.

  • http://azspot.net naum

    This is absurd. Human tragedies are the fuel of reform — they are the catalysts for new laws and changed attitudes. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, which killed 146 garment workers in New York City, led to changes in building and fire codes that are with us still. The tampering of Tylenol capsules, a poison plot that killed seven people in 1982, was followed by wholesale makeovers in the way hundreds of products were packaged. And what was the overhaul in airport security, a system that has for more than a decade prevented a terrorist from ramming a plane into a building, but government “exploiting the tragedy” of 9/11?

    That a new law will not stop every death is never a consideration, except with guns; here, perfection is supposed to prevail.

    ~Timothy Egan

  • Kyle J

    @Kent

    So that seems to boil down to: give up because the evil man is capable of is too great.

    Countries with stricter gun control measures have lower murder rates. That’s not a coincidence.

  • Josh T.

    #33 Kent: There is an issue of convenience here. Path of least resistance and all. One of the reasons people don’t often go around blowing up pressure cooker pipe bombs at each other–they’re inconvenient. But guns can be quite convenient to obtain and to use if there is no background check involved or other loopholes. Sure, there are ways around that, but it makes sense that at least some of the gun violence is related to how very convenient it is to obtain them.

  • TJJ

    The Background Check Bill would not have done anything to prevent Newtown. The guns were purchased legally by someone who was not a crimminal or mentally ill. They were purchased by the killers mother. What might have prevented the Newtown killings was an effective mental health system were mentally ill individuals, esp young men, could be identified, treated, and families supported and assisted and counseled, oh I don ‘t know, that maybe it is not wise to have guns in the home of a young man with significant menal illness issues. Also, one armed/trained security person in the school, along with reasonable and smart security precautions in place, might have prevented it also. If the goal is to honor the children of Newtown, address that.

    But those things don’t fit the political agenda of those seeking to pass this bill. This bill was an attempt to take advantage of a very tragic and sad killing, a killing done by a very seriously mentally ill person, who killed his mother to take her legal guns and kill relatively unprotected children.

    The President Demonizing and name calling and personally attacking those who view a constitutionally protected right differently than him was sad and demeaning……for the President, and to me reveals much about him.

    This was a Rhalm Emmanual ploy, to not let a big crisis/tragedy go to waste, but leverage it to push a political agenda. Well, it worked with the big monstrous stimulas package boondoggle, but this time that tactic failed. And I say…..Good.

  • Rob

    I think the reason this didn’t pass is pretty simple. 1. Obama and his cronies have proven that they aren’t trustworthy. And 2. People see this as a slippery slope. Combine those two things together and you get the result from yesterday.

  • Josh T.

    Why all this “would not have prevented Newtown” stuff? Newtown brought gun issues to public consciousness in a very strong way in the wake of other gun-related tragedies. The fact that the killer used his mother’s weapons) does not negate the wide open loopholes in gun regulations that still need to be addressed. Just because it wouldn’t have prevented Newtown doesn’t mean it would have no positive effect at all. What I want to know is whether or not it *would* close those loopholes, not whether or not it would hypothetically prevent any one particular tragedy.

    Also, if it’s wrong for Obama and Giffords to assign motives and judge those who voted against the bill (“cowardly”), I think it’s equally wrong for people to do the same thing with the motives of those pushing for gun control (“political agenda…take advantage of a tragic killing”). Either that, or it’s fair for both parties to assign motives. It just seems to me that for those who are for better gun regulation, the opposition always accuses them of a “political agenda” or “taking advantage,” as if the NRA has no political agenda involved in what they do.

  • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

    Very simple, TJJ. It shouldn’t be harder to buy pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) than to buy a gun. It’s that simple. We require background checks for employment and a host of other things. If we don’t want Felons and the Mentally Ill to have access to guns, the answer is easy:background checks.

  • http://redemptivethoughts.com John H.Guthrie

    Steve #18: You wrote that no one in Newtown thinks that the bill would have prevented the shooting. But that is precisely what Gabby Giffords claimed in her statement. You also wrote that “However, like fixing any problem, you have to start somewhere.” This bill would not be a start, but an addition to the countless gun regulations on the books already. None of them prevented Newtown, Aurora, or Va. Tech. Neither does limiting the number of rounds necessarily save lives. The Va. Tech shooter used several handguns that only had 10 rounds each. I agree with you in comment #54 that felons and the mentally ill should not be allowed to purchase guns. But none of the perpetrators of recent mass killings were felons, nor had their mental illnesses brought them to the attention of law enforcement. Therefore, this bill would have prevented nothing.

  • EricW

    Mr. Petulance pitched a hissy fit and engaged in name-calling again, too. So predictable.

  • TJJ

    Unfortunately Steve, it is not that simple or easy. The Bill would not prevent most mentally ill individuals from buying guns because so many mentally ill individuals are not in any database or registry. They are not even identified as mentally ill. Other federal laws actually make that very very difficult. Such as Hippa. None of the recent killings in the media would have been prevented by this Bill. None. The killers were no doubt mentally ill. But none were in any system or registary as such. Not Colorado, not the Giffords killing, not Virginia Tech. All of those men could have still bought a gun under this Bill.

    There is no easy, simple answer. That is parth of the myth regarding this bill.

  • Morber

    Rob (53),

    The real reason, as with much of government, is lobbyist money. However you feel about the issue, huge money was poured into the Senate.

  • Chas

    At the risk of sounding callous, I too have my doubts about the tactics being used by Ms. Giffords and many others to get more gun control legislation passed. Yesterday, Charles Krauthammer used the term “emotional blackmail” to describe the tactic currently being employed. I agree with him. The passing of laws is no small matter, and when we choose to do so we should be able to point to real evidence that such laws will serve the common good while at the same time preserving our freedoms. No small feat indeed.

    In their more honest sober moments many of those in support of further gun control legislation will admit that the new proposals would not have prevented Newtown and others. Do we need more gun control legislation? Maybe we do. But the debate and subsequent decisions to enact legislation should be made by rational minds, not those reeling from loss, or even worse those seeking to further their political careers.

  • Rick

    EricG #38-

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    In regards to the “why”, I think there is a trust issue here. Some do not trust the motives of those supporting this legislation, and they see a potential loophole in the wording that concerns them.

    Part of that trust issue may (and probably does) come from how some are portrayed, but that can be seen on both sides, which goes back to the rhetoric issue.

  • T

    Chas, TJJ & others,

    I’m sure someone out there is arguing, despite obvious facts, that the version of the bill that finally made it through the appropriate Senate committee would have stopped Newtown or one of the other recent high-publicity gun tragedies. But that’s not what I hear most often, nor is it why I think we ought to have more stringent background checks for future gun purchases. The issue is whether the bill would create additional hurdles for some folks with mental illness or criminal backgrounds to buy a gun. That’s it. From what I can tell, the bill would do that. That, to me and the vast majority of Americans including many gun owners, is a step in the right direction. I’ve asked repeatedly here in this discussion for someone to tell me why this bill deserved to be voted against–what makes small progress on this front unacceptable, especially when the best that could ever be accomplished in this country when it comes to access to guns is incremental? Why does incremental progress in preventing some known criminals and people with mental illness from getting guns deserve to be voted down?

  • Chas

    T – Your point is well stated. As I mentioned in my post maybe we do need stricter laws. I am not arguing in this case one way or the other. My point is that passing the current measure would, at the end of the day, represents nothing more than supporters being able to walk away saying, “We did something, and maybe, just maybe it will help prevent future acts of gun violence.” I contend that laws should not be passed just so we can say that “we did something;” just so we can say that maybe it will do some good; just so we can say that if possibly one life is saved then it will have been worth it.

    The fact is, the only way to measurably and substantively reduce this kind of violence is to dramatically limit access to weapons for everyone. That’s a whole other debate.

    No doubt this is a tough issue that does not lend itself to easy answers. May God give us wisdom.

    Peace to you.

  • Patrick

    Gabby Giffords would have been very fortunate and wise to have had armed protection like other gun control advocates have, like our POTUS, Jim Carey, Rosie O’Donnell,etc.

    The reason this thing failed is because most Americans think they have the right to protect themselves from thugs and we do not trust this state.

  • Janet

    I’m absolutely appalled at the inability of our politicians to take a firm stand on something so critical as more complete background checks and bans on assault weapons. Those of us working with children are now going through intense drills with them to teach them how to be safe in case an armed intruder enters our school. They cry, are scared, and we have a government that is unable to stand up against a gun lobby that will end up putting more innocents in an early grave.


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