Friday, July 8, 2016

Gun Debate Saga

There’s been plenty of partisan bickering over gun laws since the Orlando mass shooting. Let’s all step back and review the logic being used by defenders of guns of any kind anywhere, anytime. All five conservative members of the Supreme Court agreed with Justice Scalia’s opinion in the 2008 Washington D.C. v. Heller decision which expressed approval for bans on weapons like the military’s M-16. There is precedent for limiting what weapons we as a society are willing to allow on our streets such as, the now expired 1994 assault weapon ban which Ronald Reagan worked hard to see passed. Perhaps it is time to write a ban on weapons with removable magazines or on magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds.

Republicans in Congress prevented passage of a bill that would have made it illegal for someone on the federal no fly list to buy a gun. They argued that it would be an unconstitutional infringement on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms if the would be purchaser has not been convicted of a crime. I get that, but I have to wonder why it’s OK to prevent someone who hasn’t been convicted of a crime from flying on a plane. Is it just because methods of travel aren’t mentioned in the Constitution? I also have to wonder why the those same legislators are so quick to defend the Second Amendment but were the instigators and perpetuators of the abridgement of our Fourth Amendment right to privacy by the Patriot Act. Why are they supportive of the surveillance state that the United States has become with the NSA recording who we talk to, listening to what we say, and reading our emails without a warrant?

Leaving aside constitutional issues, congressional Republicans also killed a bill that would have closed what is erroneously called the gun show loophole. Actually any private sale doesn’t require a background check. The bill would have required that all gun purchasers be subject to the same federal background check as those already required when purchasing from a federally licensed firearms dealer. I still haven’t figured out why they are willing to allow individuals to sell guns over the internet without a background check. Oh sure, the apologists will say that isn’t the case but if the seller is a private individual and posts their gun for sale on a site likes they can arrange to deliver the gun to an individual at their home or a parking lot and there is no federal requirement for a background check. The same holds true for any private sale whether at a gun show or between neighbors. Upwards of 85% of Americans want all gun purchasers to be background checked. Why aren’t Republicans willing to support this common sense regulation?

It would seem, in this election year, that Republicans simply want to score points with extremists who believe guns should be unregulated. Apparently they’re not concerned that 85% of Americans disagree with them.

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