From the Front Lines of the War on Sanity

From the Front Lines of the War on Sanity June 27, 2014

NRA Fights for Convicted Stalkers’ Gun Rights

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  • Dave G.

    To be honest, I’d like to see the actual legislation being proposed. It might be a fight against sanity. It might be a fight for sanity. I mean, how exactly would the proposed legislation define a conflict between two partners? In fact, the Huffpost piece says the NRA has relaxed its opposition to such things as gun rights for stalkers, but the letters received say they’re concerned about the broadening of the definitions, including that dealing with conflicts between partners. The piece itself doesn’t really get into what the legislation says, mostly just what the NRA letter is saying it says. With those criticizing the NRA for not protecting women and victims of stalking taking the opposite view. I’d like to know more. The NRA could easily be wrong, but then it might be right, depending on the wording of the actual legislation. After all, we pro-lifers didn’t like it when laws were passed restricting protests at abortion clinics just because of documented cases of violence against women and doctors. Let’s look a little more closely at the actual legislation, and what the NRA is actually officially saying about it, rather than just run with this piece, which read more like a campaign leaflet than a news story.

    BTW, just an observation. In a nation where everything is about politics, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that all discussion sounds like it’s part of a political campaign. Just a thought.

    • jroberts548

      The article linked to the text of the bill. Even when articles don’t, the easiest way to find current bills is at beta.congress.gov.

      The bill can be found here: https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-bill/1290/text. It amends 18 USC §§ 921-922. It slightly expands the definition of “intimate partner” to include dating partners and people who are similarly situated to spouses (i.e., domestic partners in civil unions). The current 18 USC § 921 can be found here: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/921

      It also slightly expands 18 USC §§ 922(d), 922(g), which use similar language to make it illegal to transfer guns to certain people and for certain people to possess guns (i.e., it imposes liability on both the transferor and the transferee). The only material change it makes is adding people who have been convicted of misdemeanor stalking. Currently, the bill only covers convictions of misdemeanor domestic violence or restraining orders relating to stalking. The current text of 18 USC § 922 can be found here: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/922

      I can’t imagine any good faith objections to this bill.

      • Dave G.

        Well I followed the second method, since the link kept coming up for me as nothing there. Based on that, I’m not sure what the beef could be. I haven’t found the NRA’s official objection, and those criticizing the NRA’s stance are all over the board. In fact, in just a minute I found one saying that the NRA was using gay couples (that the NRA suddenly cares about), to oppose this, while another editorial stated that the NRA was opposed to this because of its opposition to gay couples. So now step two, what is the NRA actually saying is wrong and what it objects to, since those criticizing the NRA in editorials and blogs are contracting each other on where the NRA is and why it’s objecting. If you have any links to that, I’m looking but haven’t found them yet. That includes not finding it mentioned on the NRA site (assuming I’m searching that site correctly).

        • Marthe Lépine

          The way I understood it, it came from something like a “leaked” letter or memo to some politicians. Such things may or may not be correct…

          • Dave G.

            That could be tough to find, and I’d wait to find out what the actual problem is. This is a law discussing limits, and that should be entered into lightly to be sure. From what I can tell, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong, but then I’m not a legal scholar. So finding out more about the NRA’s actual objection would be the next smart step IMHO.

        • Jeffrey Liss

          You can read the legislation here: https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-bill/1290

          I am not a member of the NRA. I have no idea what forms the basis of their objection. I personally object because the law would a) deprive a citizen of a Constitutional right on the basis of a *misdemeanor* conviction and would b) enable convictions for something as flimsy as “attempted use of physical force…” whatever that is.

          If I, in anger, attempt to rush toward another person, but I am restrained by a friend, have I attempted to use physical force? A prosecutor could easily argue such a display was still “using force” to intimidate — even if I was 20 feet away from the supposed target of my wrath.

          This is a poorly worded bill; it would be a disastrous law. It’s proponents likely know that. It’s sole purpose is the creation of controversy on terms favorable to the Left.

          • Dave G.

            I’ve found the objection you make stated in other places. That’s not an uncommon objection when it comes to putting limits on things. Still, I found the legislation after jrobert got me pointed in the right direction. Still haven’t found the NRA objection, and since the accounts of what it is saying are from sources decidedly hostile to the NRA in the first place, I’m having an issue pinpointing what the objection actually is.

          • jroberts548

            I like how you found the bill text, but then quote something from the summary (rather than the text), which would have no legal force. It’s very clearly worded. It changes the current to cover misdemeanor stalking, and misdemeanor domestic violence against a dating partner or domestic partner. Maybe there’s some ambiguity in “dating;” if you beat your girlfriend before you had decided to go steady it could create problems, but otherwise, this is clear if you read the text of the bill, rather than the summary.

            • Jeffrey Liss

              Excuse me, jroberts, but I’ve read the bill. The summary exists for the sake of clarity; the legislative language itself is incomprehensible without reference to the code being modified. If you think it acceptable to deprive people of fundamental rights on the basis of a misdemeanor conviction, we have a very different understanding of the Bill of Rights.

  • Marthe Lépine

    Here’s a nasty question – are you going to ban me for it?

    Would some,
    or most, or all of that “gun culture” in your country have, in the end,
    anything to do with desensitizing people from “that normal unwillingness to
    kill”? Or could it eventually, in a more or less long term, bring about the
    possibility and the danger to come to such a consequence? And that, in some
    cases, that “unwillingness to kill” has already been pushed back so far in a
    person’s mind that brandishing a firearm is just now a natural reflex in cases
    of intense anger or fear? As I see it, it is too easy to refer only to mental
    illness when some horrific shooting event takes place. Many other circumstances
    must have previously affected the person who commits a mass shooting, before
    the tragedy happens… including the easy availability of guns!

    • petey

      why would you be banned for that?

      • Benjamin2.0

        I was kinda’ wondering that, too. The comment was 100% in conformity with the host’s stated opinions.

        • Marthe Lépine

          True, but I was afraid to be condemned as anti-American by everybody else…

          • Dave G.

            You don’t read the comments here much? That’s like being afraid you’ll be condemned in the Big House for wearing maize and blue.

    • Dave G..

      My guess is that the worst of the gun culture is an extension of the worst of everything else in our decaying society.

      • chezami

        It’s fascinating that whenever something beloved by the right is obviously doing evil–cops murdering people, gun zealots lobby for stalkers to have guns–you consistently fall back on the old leftist strategy of blaming “society” for the lousy moral choice of actual human moral agents. Why do you think you like to shift the blame like that?

        • Dave G.

          Because I want facts? Funny, I thought I was just trying to get to the facts and am willing to accept that we’re all part of the problem. And I’m not saying nobody is to blame because it’s society’s fault, but I do say it’s us adults’ fault for screwing it up, though that doesn’t excuse those who do evil or bad. Oh, and if someone kept posting stories about abusive priests which encouraged commenters to rush in and declare that all priests were either rapists or supporters of rape, I’d have the same reaction: defending the priesthood in general against such accusations, and beseeching the blogger in question to stop having 100% of the stories about priests be negative. In fact, on some atheists blogs that do such things, that’s exactly what I’ve done.

      • Marthe Lépine

        What I see is there are very few “societies” in the industrialized world that are so much in love with firearms as the US society. In Canada, I have not even seen a real gun once, in my 72 years of life, I have seen them in movies, various photos and pictures, etc. but I have never known anyone who believed they needed to have a gun on themselves to feel safe. I have known a few tough guys who keep a baseball bat in the trunk of their cars, in case they need a weapon. Are there many people in various European countries who are discussing their “right” to own a gun with the same energy and passion as in the US? I am almost tempted to believe that we, in Canada, and the Europeans, are the civilized ones. Unfortunately, your gun culture is so widespread that I think it would take a miracle to remedy the situation. In the meantime, I don’t expect to ever cross our common border again (I used to attend a 6-day silent retreat in a small town south of Boston, every year for 25 years) mostly because I just cannot afford the $125 now required for a passport because of your country’s fear of us, up North… I am beginning to be afraid of the US.

        • Pete the Greek

          At the risk of changing the subject form the linked article…

          I would say that comparing countries on one issue is going to get you nowhere. Your comparison of Canada and the US seems to only work if you avoid several facts:

          1. Canada does not have the United States’ social, criminal and racial problems. If we collected every single firearm in this country and carpet bombed Canada with them, I very much doubt your crime rate would increase.

          2. Whatever one thinks of the ‘Gun Culture’, (I’m not a fan of some of it either) it is not cause of our crime and violence problem.

          3. Yes, there is a European country that takes its gun rights seriously, in their own way: Switzerland. They still have some prohibitions that the US does not, and some firearm freedoms we do not. But then, that’s a different culture entirely.

          4. People who use phrases like ‘gun violence’ and try to talk about national rates of violence in the US are not helping the discussion. Violence and crime is not spread evenly across the US like peanut butter over toast. It is usually highly localized in VERY specific areas following patterns. This is one reason why a ‘National’ policy isn’t really that great an idea. States like Illinois have FAR more restrictive laws than Utah, and yet Utah is MUCH safer. But once you take Chicago out of the equation, the per capita violence in Illinois is similar to Utah. The correct response is not “Let’s pass a national law to address this.” but rather “What’s wrong in Chicago that it has such an enormous violence problem?” You could even that this further, as the violent crime in Chicago is also VERY localized usually. So, what’s wrong with those specific areas? What can we address there?

        • Dave G.

          That’s probably true. A lot of that might have to do with the frontier mentality that is so recent in America’s past. Remember, there was still untamed wilderness in our grandparent’s memory, where other industrialized societies have either grown as parts of greater European empires, or were in fact European empires where such taming of wilderness mentalities had faded an eon ago. There are probably other reasons. Americans are also mighty sensitive about their freedoms, with other societies not having those absolute freedoms (hence stories about preachers being jailed for opposition to homosexuality, which folks are quick to say couldn’t happen here now because of those freedoms). And since protection of arms is one of those freedoms, there you go. Probably a slew of other reasons, those are just a couple off the top of my head.

          • Marthe Lépine

            “Untamed wilderness in our grandparents’ memories” sounds to me as the need to kill those “bad Indians” in order to take their lands… Who did say “a good Indian is a dead Indian”?

            • Michael Lynch

              Canada had a westward movement, too, and it also involved violence between Indians and settlers. I don’t think the frontier alone explains American gun culture, but it might be part of it.

            • Dave G.

              I am blessed with a wife who is part Native American, and also a descendant Jenny Wiley, a woman whose family was slaughtered by Indians and who was captured and made a slave until she escaped. Thus her family sympathizes both ways – which is a wise way to do it. When it comes to the conflict, I like what one wag said: we’ve not changed how we see the European/Native American conflict, we’ve just rearranged the labels (beautiful godlike heroes vs. bloodthirsty sadistic savages). In reality, it was a complex civilization running smack into another complex civilization, while most of those on the street were just trying to get by and live, which is what I assumed when I wrote my comment. Though today, as in all things, it’s almost impossible to see the complexities since we seem so comfortable with jumping right into bumper sticker scholarship. Especially since multiculturalism has taught us to ferret out racism and imperialism whenever possible, looking under every rock, behind every tree, in every word…

        • Dave G.

          Oh, and what Pete the Greek said who as usual said it better than I could. Though I do admit that there is a tendency in America to cherish gun rights more than other societies. To me at least, that appears to be the case.

  • cfae

    Here are some numbers from the American Bar Association that might help put this in context and explain the very real danger. And people still ask ‘”Why doesn’t she just leave?” This is a very real pro-life issue. Thank you, Mark. http://www.americanbar.org/groups/domestic_violence/resources/statistics.html

  • Jeffrey Liss

    Honestly, Mark, why you insist on trusting the American left’s definition of “sanity” is utterly beyond me. S.1290 would deprive people of a fundamental Constitutional — and human — right on the basis of a misdemeanor conviction even for something as vague as the “attempted use of physical force.” Since we know from long experience that prosecutorial ‘discretion’ is routinely abused at every level of government, how hard is it to imagine people would routinely be convicted of this broadly defined crime solely as a means of disarming them?

    You’re right: gun violence is a pro-life issue. Here’s where you’re wrong: gun control kills people. It does not reduce crime — not even gun crime. This fact is now as clear as it is ignored. Perhaps this is simple intellectual laziness in the face of counterintuitive data. More likely it’s just the left’s typical willingness to lie in pursuit of their true agenda. Either way, depriving people of the right to defend themselves and calling it pro-life is monstrously evil.

    • Willard

      You might want to ask Canadians and Australians if gun control kills people. The overwhelming evidence is that it does not.

      • Marthe Lépine

        Maybe the difference is that guns have never really been “out of control” in my country? Once a cancer starts its damage, it is really difficult to eradicate it completely and/or permanently.

        • Pete the Greek

          I suddenly got a flashback to that movie ‘Canadian Bacon’. It’s hard for me to imagine a Canadian being ‘out of control’ about anything. Perhaps out of control in a polite way… 🙂

        • Jeffrey Liss

          A weapon can be controlled only by the hand that wields it.
          Belief that governments are meant to control human beings is one of the most destructive facets of human folly; how many millions have died in pursuit of a social ideal? It is human minds and hearts which must be governed — not controlled — by reason and right faith. Have we either in America? Gun violence is a symptom of our moral decay and slow-motion societal collapse.

          The metastasized cancer you allude to is sin, not guns. As long as we ignore that truth, violence like the poor will always be with us.

          Edit: formatting.

          • Willard

            “Belief that governments are meant to control human beings is one of the most destructive facets of human folly”

            Umm…abortion, drug abuse, domestic violence, etc.

            Do you even Catholic?

            • Jeffrey Liss

              In none of those cases is the government controlling the individual. Not a single one. I think you need to adopt a more orthodox use of the dictionary.

              • Willard

                So if the government bans heroin, it is not controlling the individual?

                • Jeffrey Liss

                  Do people still obtain and use heroin?

                  • Willard

                    Crazy. So because people break laws, “the belief that governments are meant to control human beings” is folly?

      • Jeffrey Liss

        If legislative action were the sole factor determining human behavior, you might be on to something. As it happens, that’s true only in academic models and leftist fantasies. Australia imposed outright gun confiscation, which they could do because their constitution does not recognize their right to defend themselves. Still, assaults against the elderly (who might use a gun to counter a physical imbalance favoring the aggressor) increased following gun confiscation. At best, they diverted violent behavior toward the weaker members of society who were now more inviting targets. Please explain the morality of that policy.

        Furthermore, it’s disingenuous to use “gun violence” as a metric at all, since it does not differentiate defensive use against crime from criminal acts themselves, whether against the innocent or other criminals. Gun control, on the other hand, preferentially disarms the law-abiding while doing nothing whatsoever to reduce the number of guns in the hands of criminals. Since guns are used upwards of 1.5 million times annually by law-abiding citizens to defend against or thwart crime, it literally makes the problem worse.

        Great Britain touched off a revolution in this country by attempting the Australian model here. Yet they still refuse to recognize their error: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-154307/Gun-crime-soars-35.html

  • Pete the Greek

    I’m not sure what to think of this law, actually. Any law proposed and pushed that limits a Constitutionally protected right (Not just 2nd, but freedom of speech, freedom of religion, due process, any of them) I think should be carefully analyzed to make sure we eliminate, as nearly as we can, any possibility that it can be abused.

    This is a slow, but important process. Laws that limit rights, once passed, are practically impossible to back out.

    Reading the linked article at huffpo… It doesn’t seem that the NRA is saying, as Mark is implying, that “YAY! We want people with restraining order to buy guns with no problems!” (I’m guessing he may have only read the headline?) They seem to be saying that the terms are far too broad. Secondly, ‘lifetime’ firearm prohibition? No, I don’t agree with that. I don’t agree with removing a person’s rights from them for their entire lives, especially here when, even after a restraining order is lifted, they are screwed for the rest of their lives. Prohibiting purchase WHILE they are under a restraining order is one thing. This law seems to go beyond that.

    • Marthe Lépine

      “Prohibiting purchase WHILE under a restraining order…” An interesting concept. I have known in my own family people keeping grudges for 10 years or more. Do you really believe that a person intent on harming their current, former or imagined partner will not just go and get a gun as soon a the restraining order has expired? PLUS, since I happen to have friends working in the area of family violence and sexual assault, I have learned, from those friends’ reality, that most restraining orders – in Ontario at least – end up being useless, women are not much safer from abusive current or ex-partners when this piece of paper has been signed.

      • Pete the Greek

        “Do you really believe that a person intent on harming their current,
        former or imagined partner will not just go and get a gun as soon a the
        restraining order has expired?”
        – If we are talking about someone who is intent on MURDERING another human being, and by implication, is planning out how to do so, and holds that same hatred for 10 years, exactly how does a ban on them purchasing a firearm through legal channels stop them?

        “hat most restraining orders – in Ontario at least – end up being useless”
        – I have friends in law enforcement circles, and they would agree, based upon my conversations with them. It is also 100% illegal to buy a gun if you are a convicted felon in the US, and yet the gangbangers still fine a way. So, useless piece of paper, plus useless law equals… effective? What?

        Making it illegal for someone who is under a current restraining order from legally purchasing a firearm is a good idea, I think. However, do not make the mistake of assuming ‘making it illegal’ is the same as ‘preventing’.

  • Linebyline

    All violence is a prolife issue, not just gun violence.

    There is no war on sanity. Sanity lost the war a long time ago and and was conquered by opposing factions claiming to support it.