Archive for the ‘gun control’ Category
By John Feehery
I actually don’t blame some Members of the Senate for threatening to filibuster the still-mysterious gun bill.
Who knows what they have come up with in the back halls of the Congress and who know what they will end up with once this bill gets to the floor.
Mitch McConnell had it exactly right when he held out the right to support a filibuster until he actually got a glimpse of the bill.
I think the whole process has pretty much stunk.
The President has moved too quickly to pass old ideas that wouldn’t have prevented the Newtown tragedy. He has done it because he doesn’t want people to forget “Newtown”.
I will never forget Newtown. Nor have I forgotten Columbine. Or the mass murder at Virginia Tech.
What I haven’t seen, though, is a comprehensive, careful and methodical approach to dealing with these mass shootings.
What I have seen is impatient politicians trying to do their best to best minimal legislation that won’t fix the problem.
The idea that makes the most sense to many Americans is one put forward by the National Rifle Association: Put armed guards in schools.
This is already being done in most urban public school districts. You need armed guards in those schools because violence is such an everyday part of life.
What we need is the same kind of report that went into the 9/11 Commission.
That Commission took a long and deep leak into the security lapses that the terrorists exploited to commit the horrific attacks on September 11th. The Commission angered a lot of people and it made a lot of recommendations that may or may not have been exactly the right thing to do.
But the fact is that we passed those recommendations and we haven’t had a major terrorist attack on our soil since that time. There may or may not be a causal effect, but it doesn’t matter to most voters.
Congress worked. It worked because it had a check-list and it had public pressure put on it by a group of dedicated activists who didn’t have a partisan agenda, just an agenda to make the country safer.
And there were a lot of good, innovative ideas in the Commission report and many of those ideas made into law.
This has not been the case with current debate.
The President pushed for an assault weapons ban, but even if the President had tightened up the ban that had expired years ago, there would be so many loopholes as to make it essentially meaningless.
Reconstituting that ban never was seriously considered by the Senate Majority Leader. And now the Senate is considering a very weak background check that would have done nothing to either Columbine or Newtown.
Instead of being deliberative, smart, innovative or creative, the Senate has been predictable, partisan and largely ineffective.
This gun debate is a real mess and a real missed opportunity to get something good done for the American people.
By John Feehery
I have a bright idea. Let’s end the war on drugs and then let’s launch a new war against illegal guns.
The war on drugs, much like Prohibition in the 1920’s, makes our country more violent and gives criminals the ability to corner the market on the recreational drug industry.
Most people in our prisons (which are over-capacity, by the way) are there because of a connection to the illegal drug trade.
Drugs are not good for you. They make you act stupid (much like alcohol). They are bad for your body (much like cigarettes). They are bad for your brain (much like high-cholesterol foods).
But still people want to use them. If they didn’t, why do we have so many people getting killed or getting thrown in prison just for the honor of selling them? If there wasn’t a huge marketplace for drugs, there wouldn’t be a huge demand to get in the business of making money off of their sales.
Governments, by and large, are much more successful at managing marketplaces than they are at banning them. The government should manage this marketplace, and from the increased tax revenue they would get from such a marketplace, they could do three things.
First, they could pay down some debt. I don’t know if you realize this, but we have a debt problem in this country. We could get a bunch of money from the legal sale of drugs.
Second, we could pay for drug treatment facilities. The fact of the matter is that drugs are bad for you. I hate them. I don’t do them. But some people do and if we legalize drugs, more people will need help to get off of them. Some of the tax revenue could go to pay for those costs.
Third, it could help pay for a new war on illegal guns.
I am fine with normal law-abiding citizens people owning guns legally. And in some cases, I strongly suggest it. I think there should be a universal background check, and if you are crazy, have a criminal record, or if you are under 25, you shouldn’t have access to guns in the civilian world.
There are too many guns in the hands of too many criminals. And we need to have the government sweep in and take those guns away. And I believe those gun should be destroyed that have been owned illegally.
We should raise the standards of gun ownership. We should require that gun owners take a course in gun safety and gun storage that is certified and administered by the National Rifle Association.
And we should put gun sellers on notice. If one of your guns falls in the hands of a criminal, and you didn’t report it stolen, you will be legally liable for what the criminal did with the gun.
It should be harder to own a gun than it is to get a driver’s license. And illegal aliens should not be allowed to own a gun. Period. If you are in this country illegally, you don’t get to have a gun and if you are caught with one, you will immediately be kicked out of the country.
We need to be hard-asses on gun ownership. We need to make sure that good citizens have them, and we need to take them away from the bad guys.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that if you are crazy or criminal or an illegal alien, you have a right to own a gun and use it to knock-off a liquor store, or kill your classmates, or shoot at a border patrol agent or use it in a gang fight.
Drugs might kill people but that is a self-inflicted death. Guns in the wrong hands kill way too many innocent victims. Let’s take away guns from criminals. And let’s end the stupid war on drugs.
By John Feehery
John Boehner might be right. The President may very well want to annihilate the Republican Party. But if that is true it is going to take far longer than Mr. Obama thinks.
Obama’s speech on Monday and his efforts to force gun control on an unwilling Senate served two invaluable purposes for the GOP. First, it unified them to an extent that they haven’t been unified in a long while. Second, it made it awfully hard for Harry Reid to keep control of the Senate.
The House is going to stay in Republican hands for the next decade. I am pretty sure of that fact. Mitt Romney won more than 220 of the districts won by House Republicans, making the House majority one big safe seat.
There are about 8 Congressional districts that Romney won that are still held by Democrats, putting the Republicans on the offense for next election in the House.
As we know, Republicans in the Obama era do a lot better in midterm elections than they do in Presidential elections. That spells trouble for Senate Democrats in Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina, West Virginia, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Louisiana.
I don’t know if you know this but they really love their guns in those States. The more Obama pushes gun control, the lower the odds that Harry Reid (who is an NRA supporter himself) keeps control of the upper chamber.
Obama’s vigorous defense of left-wing liberalism played very well with his political base, but it fell flat with anybody living in Red State America.
Has Obama portrayed himself as a centrist, Republicans would have been screwed. They have been so hopelessly divided against themselves, that most conservative organizations get more energy attacking big business and other Republicans than do from attacking Obama.
But with his speech on Monday, Obama made it far easier for conservatives and Republicans to join together in opposing his policies.
The problem for Republicans is that the more they are unified in opposing Obama, the less they will be preoccupied in rebuilding the party for the long-term.
They will fall into the trap, if they are not careful, of being a House party and not a Presidential party.
The Republicans can survive by controlling the House for the next decade, but if they don’t reverse the demographic trends that became evident in the last Presidential election, they will not win the White House for forty years.
The problem with being really satisfied with an oppositional strategy is that it makes it awfully hard to be for something. And if you are not for something, you will never get on offense. And if you never get on offense, you can’t build out your coalition. And if the GOP can’t build out its coalition, than it won’t be able to compete for the White House.
It is entirely possible that Barack Obama understands all of this. And it is entirely possible that the President has been needlessly partisan not because he wants to accomplish anything, but rather because he wants to keep the Republicans on the defensive so that he can destroy them for the long-term.
For Republicans, that means that they have to take some risks. They have to be willing to go beyond their base on issues which helps them to build a long-term coalition. Fighting the debt is not much a risk and it is not much of a political strategy, because nobody votes on debt even though everybody is against it.
Taking risks means putting immigration reform behind them, embracing Obama’s position on same-sex marriage (or at least not fighting it), ending the war on drugs, offering a real anti-poverty agenda, and fighting for real campaign reform.
It means not being content to let Obama and his party fall on their collective swords in the 2014 election, but boldly putting together ideas that attract new voters to the party.
The Republicans won’t lose in opposing Obama in the short-term. But they won’t win if they don’t come up with a positive agenda to attract new voters in the long-term.
By John Feehery
The Obama Administration is making a huge mistake if it wants to pass significant gun legislation in this Congress.
I understand the impulse. They want to strike while the iron is hot. They believe that they have to pass something before people start forgetting about Sandy Hook.
The Vice President unveiled his proposals from his task force yesterday prematurely. By moving so swiftly, the Biden task force didn’t have time to come up with anything really new or really interesting. It basically went down the same well-traveled road taken by anti-gun activists for the last 30 years.
By doing the same thing, only faster, Mr. Biden and his allies may think that they can bull-rush the National Rifle Association and its supporters in Congress. But House Republicans, especially those from reliably safe seats, won’t suddenly turn on some of their strongest supporters. It wouldn’t be wise politically, and it wouldn’t be the right thing to do for our democracy.
Policy-makers need to tread carefully on the gun issue. This nation is in no mood for quick movement on issues of personal security.
Just take a quick glance at our popular culture. The top show on NBC is about world in which the power goes out and only those with automatic weapons have any power. A couple years ago, “The Road”, a post-apocolyptic novel about the end of civilization and a journey of a man and his son to find sanctuary. Automatic weapons sure would have come in hand for those two. “Doomsday Preppers” and “Doomsday Bunkers” are some of the top reality shows on television, detail the lives of people who are preparing for the end of times.
The first decade of the 21st century, starting with the 9/11 attacks and ending with biggest fiscal crisis of the last seventy years, has shaken the confidence of a generation of Americans. And a whole industry has arisen to take advantage of that security. Gold prices have soared exponentially. Gun sales have gone through the roof. People are buying bunkers and preparing for the day that society completely breaks down.
Are these people completely crazy? Well, some of them are. And some are folks who are just covering their bases, just in case.
And a lot of these people vote and vote often.
Taking the long view, it is not surprising that people are basically freaking out. The Mayan apocalypse is just the tip of the iceberg. According to Wikipedia:
“Millenarianism (also millenarism) is the belief by a religious, social, or political group or movement in a coming major transformation of society, after which all things will be changed, based on a one-thousand-year cycle. The term is more generically used to refer to any belief centered around 1000-year intervals. Millenarianism is a concept or theme that exists in many cultures and religions. One well-known form of millenarianism is the Christian concept of Millennialism. A core doctrine in Christian eschatology is the expectation of the Second Coming and the establishment of a Kingdom of God on Earth. According to the literal interpretation of prophecies in the Revelation of John, this kingdom of God on Earth will last a thousand years or more (a millennium). Although Christian Millennialism is the most well-known example of a millenarian belief system, the application of 1000-year cycles to the establishment or changing of the world has happened in many cultures and religions, and continues to this day, and is not relegated to the sects of only major world religions.”
Policy makers who try to take guns away from people who believe that the final battle between good and evil is expected any day now are in for a rude awakening.
As my Uncle Bob might say, it might be a bunch of superstitious mumbo jumbo, but then again, a lot of people really believe it.
And our national culture is more than willing to make some money off of the true believers. Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, make some money off of ‘em.
This is why I believe the Biden Commission has moved too quickly to be successful. Instead of taking a thoughtful approach that would require deliberation, debate and real intense study, the Vice President is moving as quickly as he can to get as much gun control legislation as possible done.
It’s won’t work. Republicans won’t and can’t bite. And a good portion of the American people don’t want it, especially as they are preparing for the final countdown.
By Ken Shepherd
In the wake of the atrocious mass murder in Newtown, Conn., last week, we’ve heard much about starting a soul-searching “national conversation” on gun control. I am all for a true, civil conversation, so here are some guidelines for our national discussion and debate.
*While some public policy changes may be in order, there is likely nothing that would have stopped Newtown from happening nor is it within our power to absolutely prevent by changes in law something like this from ever happening again.
When tragedies like this happen, we want to assure ourselves we have the capacity to stop them in the future, that there’s something we can do to ensure nothing like this will ever happen again. While there may be lessons to learn and public policies to pursue, the fact of the matter is that there is no cure-all for the evil that lurks in the human soul. Government exists to restrain and punish evil, but evil will never be completely restrained by fallible and feckless human beings.
Let there be discussion and debate. Let there be policy proposals. But neither an assault weapons ban nor arming teachers will absolutely ensure that evil or mentally disturbed people don’t set their sights on a school to take away innocent human life.
On any given day, almost every school in America will end its instructional day with no security incidents, much less a murderer taking children’s lives. On any given day, there is ultimately nothing that will stop a determined, depraved individual from setting his sights on a school, and no public policy change will stop that, only the sheer grace of God can.
On an intellectual level we already know this, but this should inform our debate and how we treat those who disagree with us, which leads me to the second point
*The other side of the debate is NOT demonic, and changes in the law that we don’t approve of are NOT the end of the world.
Nobody wants any American, much less our children, to be vulnerable and unprotected. Both sides of the gun control debate earnestly believe they are advancing policies which, in the main, secure the safety and promote the general welfare of society at large. Suffice it to say, the national criminal background check system, supported by the Brady campaign and initially opposed by gun rights groups, has been a success and is sensible. Virtually everyone agrees that background checks for gun purchases are a sensible policy.
By the same token, it’s clear from decades of comparative data that concealed carry states are not the shoot-em-up dystopias that gun control groups feared they would be in the early 1990s.
Guns are inanimate objects. They should be kept out of the wrong hands, although we can never completely prevent them from getting into the wrong hands. Because that is true, we should be abundantly careful to make sure guns may be held in the right hands, and that law-abiding civilians are not punished for the actions of the criminal and the insane.
*It is not altogether unlikely that a “balanced approach” of some sort may be a reasonable compromise.
The Left is calling for a re-instated assault weapons ban and/or limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines, while some on the Right are calling for arming teachers and principals. Much of the debate is going to be advocacy groups talking past each other, but ultimately the American people, through their elected officials, are going to have to decide a) what works and b) what works within the parameters of the Constitution’s guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms.
While I doubt the efficacy and wisdom of reinstating a federal assault weapons ban, it is quite likely the courts, including the Supreme Court, may find such a ban constitutional. And while I believe concerns about the so-called gun show loophole are overblown, I’ll admit there may be a way to close that loophole but structure the regulation in such a way that it is not overly burdensome for private gun collectors and sellers to buy, sell, and trade guns at gun shows without bearing onerous regulatory costs.
By the same token, I truly believe that it is best to let states and localities consider if they would like to permit teachers and administrators to carry concealed weapons on the job. Let there be some measure of training, particularly the sort of training that police officers get to handle such spree shooting incidents. Let there be training and practice for teachers and administrators who wish to carry concealed.
The heroic teachers of Newtown hid their students and threw themselves into the line of fire, literally, laying down their lives. Those valiant people are precisely the type of persons you could trust carrying concealed and taking their scenario training very seriously. It’s odd to me that many Democrats, who champion teachers unions, seem aghast at the very notion, appalled that anyone would even suggest it. They shouldn’t be.
So, in conclusion, yes, we need a national conversation, but a conversation implies civility and an intelligent search for public policies that make our kids safer while safeguarding our constitutional rights.
Keep calm and carry that conversation on.
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Ken Shepherd is the managing editor of NewsBusters.org and formerly a staff writer for the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. Ken graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland in 2001. He lives in New Carrollton, Md. with his wife and daughter. You can follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/kenshepherd.