The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Monday, September 16, 2013

Spectre of the Gun

From today's Times, summarizing the state of affairs in the wake of the shootings in Newtown
In Washington State, where gun control supporters have already collected 225,000 of the more than 244,000 signatures needed for a ballot initiative on requiring background checks for private gun sales, their opponents have begun their own, dueling initiative, which would prevent the state from requiring background checks that are more restrictive than federal standards.

Gun rights supporters in other states are also focusing on legislators. In Nevada, for instance, a recall campaign has already begun against State Senator Justin Jones, a Democrat who led the successful passage in June of a bill to strengthen background checks. Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, vetoed the bill.

In the decade before the Newtown shooting, state after state had gradually extended the rights of gun owners. But the push for new legislation that followed the massacre inspired a new burst of energy on the other side.

Angered by talk of a renewed assault weapons ban and fearful of increased government oversight, opponents of tighter restrictions increased their efforts.

Ammunition and semiautomatic rifles flew off the shelves of gun stores. Second Amendment groups welcomed a flurry of new members. Dave Trahan, the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, said the group’s membership had grown 120 percent over the last year, gaining 70 to 100 new members each month. The alliance, he pledged, would fight any attempt to place an initiative for background checks on the state ballot.
gun rights groups have continued to make inroads in many Republican-controlled states. Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina and about two dozen other states passed measures this year allowing people to legally carry guns in churches, elementary schools and casinos, on college campuses and at other venues; made state records of concealed carry permits confidential; expanded self-defense statutes; or otherwise increased gun owners’ rights.

And although Missouri lawmakers last week failed to overturn a veto by Gov. Jay Nixon of a bill that would have prevented the enforcement of federal gun laws in the state, a modified nullification law was enacted in Kansas. Gun rights groups in other states are pushing for similar statutes.


Dave Workman, communications director for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said gun owners feared that the background check initiative could lead to “a de facto gun registry.”

“There are two reasons you want to register all the guns in a community: either to tax them or ultimately to take them,” he said.

Oh, I know a third reason: to trace them when a homicide is committed. Why is there such a strong belief in the right to shoot anonymously?

Moreover, all this fear comes out of nowhere. What did the Democrats in fact propose in the wake of Newtown? A revised and updated assault weapons ban, one that would not automatically expire. And the President hardly attacked the Second Amendment and demonized gun owners; in fact, he said:
Now, let me be absolutely clear: Like most Americans, I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. I respect our strong tradition of gun ownership and the rights of hunters and sportsmen. There are millions of responsible, law-abiding gun owners in America who cherish their right to bear arms for hunting or sport or protection or collection.

I also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale. I believe most of them agree that if America worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in Newtown.
The President's proposals were all pretty moderate, adding (1) background checks; (2) a ban on assault weapons updated from the expired ban; (3) researching the causes of gun violence; (4) funding local initiatives on gun safety and school safety; and (5) providing federal funding to efforts to treat the mentally ill who might turn to violence. This last one, by the way, was the NRA's one proposal, other than more guns everywhere.

While there has been some progress in the wake of Newtown, today we suffered another mass shooting--ironically bare days after two Democratic lawmakers were recalled for their support of gun regulation.

So, gun rights activists, congratulations. Thanks to your unceasing efforts, your hobby is safe, and the cost in human lives? Well, seemingly we as a society are ok with that. But responsible gun owners, if you don't want the government involved, then it's own you to lead. Lead the way in stigmatizing irresponsible gun use. The fact that David Keene, whose son shot at another driver in a road rage incident and drew a ten year jail term, was the face of the NRA until 2013, and neither he nor it have proposed anything to address the issue of irresponsible gun owners leaves this little problem on your doorstep.

Your move. Fix it, since you won't let us try.

No comments: