I was asked recently what I thought about the proposals offered by the Obama administration in response to the Sandy Hook spree killing. I responded that I hadn’t looked at them carefully, mostly because I suspected they would likely be some kind of kabuki dance that, had they been in place at the time of the shooting, would have done absolutely nothing to stop the Sandy Hook killer. But I found a list at the New York Times and read through them. As I suspected . . .

Of the 35 items on the list, few would have had any appreciable chance of saving the lives of the Newtown victims. Exceptions include actions that might increase the number of school resource officers (what exactly are those “incentives”?), which is exactly what the NRA proposed. Much of it is data gathering, national dialoguing and other bureaucratic navel-gazing.  Some of it sounds legally problematic. To the surprise of no one who’s been paying attention for the last four years, many of them are obvious expansions of Federal authority.

A reinstitution of the Clinton era “assault weapons” ban is proposed, and a strengthened one at that. What “strengthened” means is left intentionally vague. The AWB made no measurable difference on gun crimes when it was law, but it did deprive Americans of firearms that have proven to be very popular after lifting the ban. Destroying the thousands of jobs that depend on the AR-15 and other firearms seems like a high price to pay for an effort that is, charitably, of inconclusive usefulness in saving lives. Note that theses studies don’t review incidents where an otherwise banned firearm allowed the owner to prevent a crime.

So for S&Gs, here’s by breakdown of Congress’s and the President’s proposals and how they would (or wouldn’t) have affected the Sandy Hook Killer:

Congressional actions:

1 – Requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales, including those by private sellers that currently are exempt.
Sandy Hook Killer (SHK) did not buy his gun from a dealer
2 – Reinstating and strengthening the ban on assault weapons that was in place from 1994 to 2004.
SHK did not use an “assault weapon” in spree killing
3 – Limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
It takes less than five seconds to change magazines. The best estimate of Newtown LEO response time that day was two minutes. SHK had plenty of time in the gun-free zone to change magazines.
4 – Banning the possession of armor-piercing bullets by anyone other than members of the military and law enforcement.
SHK did not use armor piercing bullets.
5 – Increasing criminal penalties for “straw purchasers,” people who pass the required background check to buy a gun on behalf of someone else.
The person who bought the guns used by the SHK followed all applicable laws. 
6 – Acting on a $4 billion administration proposal to help keep 15,000 police officers on the street.
May be useful – perhaps an extra cop or two in Newtown could have arrived in time to limit the spree killing to, say, 20 instead of 27.
7 – Confirming President Obama’s nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Replacing the dumbass who walked guns to drug cartels in Mexico sounds like a good idea. However, given the level of federal dumbassery, the new ATF director needs to be a non-dumbass. Good luck with that.
8 – Eliminating a restriction that requires the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to allow the importation of weapons that are more than 50 years old.
SHK’s firearm was not 50 years old
9 – Financing programs to train more police officers, first responders and school officials on how to respond to active armed attacks.
Having police who are well trained in dealing with an active shooter show up after a pile of people are killed isn’t as helpful as it sounds. SHK appears to have killed his victims in less than five minutes. The cops were, most likely, about eight minutes out. When seconds count, cops are only minutes away, even cops fully trained in dealing with an active shooter.
10 – Provide additional $20 million to help expand the a system that tracks violent deaths across the nation from 18 states to 50 states.
A good idea, so long as the data is gathered honestly. No effect on the SHK.
11 – Providing $30 million in grants to states to help schools develop emergency response plans.
While not objectionable on its face (save for a Federalist objection), why don’t schools already have these plans – it’s not like Sandy Hook was the first school shooting ever. Local schools have money to do all sorts of non-education-related booshwah and twaddle. Why do they need more money to make plans to protect students? Are school administrators, with six figure salaries and expensive degrees, so incompetent that they cannot come up with a plan with the resources they already have?
12 – Provide financing to expand mental health programs for young people.
The details will matter for this proposal and if past performance is any guide, look for a boondoggle that does nothing to screen for and intervene on behalf of someone like the SHK.

Executive actions

13- Issuing a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
Details matter – and what data are the feds holding back that would have prevented the SHK?
14 – Addressing unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
These legal barriers are called “the law” which was passed by Congress, signed by the President and have withstood judicial review. Same goes for state laws. Will we be better off in the long run if the President can just declare duly enacted laws “unnecessary”?
15 – Improving incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
Why would states need a bribe to do something that could actually stop someone like SHK?
16 – Directing the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
This seems, at best, pointless. Giving the AG wider latitude to arbitrarily define who is “dangerous” would be, well, dangerous. People like convicted felons are already prohibited from owning firearms. The undiagnosed mentally ill who have not yet committed a crime cannot be screened either. SHK was disturbed, but he did not get his firearm through retail channels. To stop him, you would have had to confiscate his mother’s firearms. No effect on the SHK.
17 – Proposing a rule making to give law enforcement authorities the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
Does he mean a NICS check, or something more intrusive? Can cops then just seize guns and run background checks after something like a Terry search? How long will “a full background check” take? No effect on the SHK.
18 – Publishing a letter from the A.T.F. to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
Background checks generally only serve to inconvenience the law abiding. No effect on the SHK.
19 – Starting a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
You mean an educational program with the thundering success of, for instance, the No Child Left Behind act? How about using the successful one that’s already in place – the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program. No effect on the SHK. 
20 – Reviewing safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
Again, pointless at best. Some gun locks that engage the trigger are unsafe with a loaded firearm, but those designs have been phased out. Safes are safes, and the market already knows which ones are better than the rest. Exactly how the SKK’s mother stored her firearms still hasn’t been made public. 
21 – Issuing a presidential memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
If you trace a stolen gun back to its original owner, will they return it? Why would knowing the original owner matter? Is this a prelude to punishing a gun owner whose property was stolen? No effect on the SHK. 
22 – Releasing a report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and making it widely available to law enforcement authorities.
Data honestly collected and analyzed is usually helpful. Emphasis on honest. No effect on the SHK. 
23 – Nominating an A.T.F. director.
See note 7 above. No effect on the SHK.
24 – Providing law enforcement authorities, first responders and school officials with proper training for armed attack situations.
See note 9 above.
25 – Maximizing enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
This is another meaningless statement. Did the folks who made this list go to college? Did they get a degree? Can they get their money back? No effect on the SHK.
26 – Issuing a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence.
Gun violence is not a contagious microbe. Has the CDC done such a good job in their primary work they have extra time on their hands? This sounds more like the Attorney General’s job. No effect on the SHK.
27 – Directing the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenging the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
What the hell does this mean? Why is the AG doing this. If it is a safety issue, why isn’t the Consumer Product Safety Commission doing it? No effect on the SHK.
28 – Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
My response to such a question from my doctor is “None of your damned business.” Does the ACA compel me to answer? If a criminal is asked the question and answers “yes” does the doctor have to report it? And again, HIPAA. This sounds like a pointless distraction from the work of preventative medicine. How exactly is a doctor grilling patients about the guns in their home going to prevent the next school shooting?
29 – Releasing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
You’d like to think that someone with eight years of medical school training would already know this, but lots of doctors voted for Obama, so, maybe this is necessary. Again, no effect on the SHK.
30 – Providing incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
Police patrols is a state issue, not a federal one. How about we reduce the federal burden on states so they can pay for their own SROs. And yes, this is one that would have, potentially, had a positive effect on Sandy Hook. The NRA is anxiously awaiting their thank-you card from the President. 
31 – Developing model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
Will it be done by the same geniuses who advise that victims throw a book at an active shooter? Will armed citizens be part of the plan? Spree killers don’t stop until they meet armed resistance. And when they do, the majority of the time they punch their own ticket. Will an Obama-directed response plan include arming school staff or allowing armed citizens on campus?
32 – Releasing a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
No particular objection, but the SHK was not a Medicaid patient.
33 – Finalizing regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within insurance exchanges.
ObamaCare will wreak havoc on the health care system. There’s no reason to believe it will be any better for mental health services. No effect on the SHK.
34 – Committing to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
This looks like a repeat of 33, padding the list.  See note 25. No effect on the SHK.
35 – Starting a national dialogue on mental health led by Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, and Arne Duncan, the secretary of education.
So far, the national conversation has centered on demonizing gun owners. How would that have stopped SHK?

30 Responses to Fisking Federal Gun Control Proposals

  1. “but lots of doctors voted for Obama, so, maybe this is necessary.”

    Here is one who didn’t vote for O’Dumbass. I, also, have never and will never ask that question.

  2. This crap never fails to take my breath away. You KNOW how to stop crime. Yet you always do the opposite thing.

    The conclusion is obvious: you DESPISE the idea of controlling crime; you want to INCREASE IT, so you can INCREASE YOUR CONTROL.

    I have a pain in my gut because of you. Can I SUE because of this?

  3. “Spree killers don’t stop until they meet armed resistance. ”

    That’s not true. Sometimes they kill themselves while waiting for the police to show up.

  4. Once again, the proposed congressional and executive actions will not save lives. Instead, they will prevent law abiding citizens from acquiring the weapons necessary to protect themselves, their families, and their property. Also, these proposed measures are simply a step closer to the liberals’ goal of disarming Americans.

  5. 7 – Confirming President Obama’s nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
    Replacing the dumbass who walked guns to drug cartels in Mexico sounds like a good idea. However, given the level of federal dumbassery, the new ATF director needs to be a non-dumbass. Good luck with that.

    For the record, this is not simply an Obama thing. This a Congressional gamesmanship thing. The ATF director position was a simple Presidential appointment until 2006, when Congress passed a law making the position subject to Senate confirmation. Since then, the Senate has refused to confirm any nominee for the position, under either George W. Bush or Obama. The current acting director, B. Todd Jones, is the bureau’s fifth acting director since 2006.

  6. 2 – Reinstating and strengthening the ban on assault weapons that was in place from 1994 to 2004.
    SHK did not use an “assault weapon” in spree killing

    He used an AR-15, which falls under their assault weapon classification.

    Otherwise, a good list and analysis.

  7. 2 – Reinstating and strengthening the ban on assault weapons that was in place from 1994 to 2004.
    SHK did not use an “assault weapon” in spree killing

    He used an AR-15. That’s an assault weapon, under their language.

    26 – Issuing a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence.
    Gun violence is not a contagious microbe. Has the CDC done such a good job in their primary work they have extra time on their hands? This sounds more like the Attorney General’s job. No effect on the SHK.

    The CDC does track causes of death in our population, and some of their reports include figures for deaths by firearm (homicide, accident, suicide, etc). Then again, the FBI crime statistics do too. There might even be other bureaucracies tracking it.

    Who is to say what alphabet soup agency is the best suited to do the research?

    Otherwise, a good list.

    • 2 – Reinstating and strengthening the ban on assault weapons that was in place from 1994 to 2004.
      SHK did not use an “assault weapon” in spree killing

      He used an AR-15. That’s an assault weapon, under their language.

      So is my SIG Mosquito in .22LR, by virtue of the fact that it takes a detachable magazine and has a threaded barrel.

      Aside from that, CT already has an AWB of their own, and the rifle he used was legally owned by his mother. If it was legally owned, then by the legal definition of the CT AWB, it was not an assault weapon. Moving the goalposts after the fact does not magically make it one.

      • A fair point, but seeing as this is national legislation, and they referred to the ’94 AWB, it IS an assault weapon under that bill’s language.

        Either way, you made a good example of how ridiculous the “assault weapon” definition is.

        • I agree.

          I would be tempted to believe that he used an AR-15 except it is also my understanding that the government said not to believe anyone but the professional news groups.

          Why would they need to discredit alternative information sources if they weren’t changing something? In my experience, if you want people to learn the truth, you encourage exploration.

  8. Can the republicans and democrats make a back-room trade? The dems get gay marriage and all the gun crap gets dropped and “gun free zones” go away

    • I’m totally down with that! Someone once said “marriage is an institution, and I never want to be institutionalized’….

      I once said the first thing to come after gay marriage will be gay divorce. Why gay people would want to endure the slings and arrows of bringing in the lawyers to complicate their breakup.

      Is it too late for me to go to law school to become a gay divorce attorney???

  9. 1. I have no problem with that. They should also include a background check on mental stability. If you have diagnosed with a serious mental disorder and have been placed in a crazy bin. You can not have a gun.

    2. On the fence and really could care less about fully automatic firearms. I do not need one…someone will have to convince me.

    3. Will not do any good.

    4. Do you really need those bullets? If so, maybe a little paranoid.

    5. I agree. Someone should not buy a firearm and give it to a criminal.

    6. Reply, 7 less families that would of had a crappy Christmas.

    7. Agree, but it is no worse than what Reagan did in the 80s.

    8. One can purchase any gun anywhere and any age of the firearm. I am okay with that.

    9. I would rather have well trained armed people (with non-deadly ammo) protecting our schools. Not okay with teachers being armed…they could snap on that one child that has been driving them nuts for years.

    10. Rather the $20 million go to our debt instead of someone’s pocket who is running this data collecting.

    11. All schools should have a lock-down procedure in place.

    12. We have to figure out why the kids/adults are going nuts. The SHK should of not had access to any firearms. They should of been locked up.

    Have to make dinner for the boys. Yes, I am a gun owner. Yes, I am liberal. I did not vote for Obama or Romney, but I did vote. I am a father of two boys. Yes, I have taught my boys what to do with firearms. I do believe that Obama has done great things for the Gun Industry (everything is pretty much flying off the shelves)…he truly is a corporate Democrat. And, everyone is feeding into the paranoia. Republicans and Bush are as much as fault with the Patriot Act and the secret laws they passed during his 8 years in office. Gun Industry is making bank off of the SHK. We should not support the gun/ammo corporations that are supplying firearms and ammo to any form of Government and support those that have canceled any Government’s orders.

    • Whoo boy.
      2. On the fence and really could care less about fully automatic firearms. I do not need one…someone will have to convince me.

      Let me start by reiterating what the original #2 was:
      2 – Reinstating and strengthening the ban on assault weapons that was in place from 1994 to 2004.

      Now. Let me say this, slowly and clearly. The Assault Weapons Ban, neither the one in ’94, nor the currently proposed one, have NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH FULLY AUTOMATIC WEAPONS.

      4. Do you really need those bullets? If so, maybe a little paranoid.

      Original #4:
      4 – Banning the possession of armor-piercing bullets by anyone other than members of the military and law enforcement.

      Armor-piercing bullets are fairly rare, and moreover, they’re not in common use. Banning them would make illegal something that very few people mess with anyway. The reasoning put forth for this stupid law is that people could shoot cops through their body armor. Newsflash: Most any moderately powered rifle round will defeat the body armor that your average LEO wears. They wear body armor primarily designed to stop handgun rounds. Banning “armor-piercing” rounds would have zero effect. It just “sounds good” and lets the pols claim they’re “doing something about gun violence.”

      • If I could piggyback on #4. The danger I see in new Armor-Piercing bans is the risk of new definitions. Like Matt in FL said, “AP” ammo is really rare because it’s defined as handgun ammo etc, etc. If this definition loosens up it could outlaw all sorts of non-lead-only projectiles. And with constant environmental murmers about banning lead in hunting ammo that could be a fatal combination.

      • I was under the impression that “armor piercing” in this context meant cartridge types capable of defeating the soft body armor in common use by LE.

        When that is taken as the definition then almost every centerfire rifle cartridge out there qualifies as armor piercing.

        I suppose poorly defined terms generally suit the disarmament folks. They mean what suits them at the moment.

        • “I suppose poorly defined terms generally suit the disarmament folks. They mean what suits them at the moment.”

          See: Assault Weapon

      • Agreed, my body armor is level IIA, and is designed to protect to a maximum of .357 Magnum. Won’t do sh*t against a rifle bullet, but that’s why “bullet proof vests” are as big a misnomer as “assault rifles”. Nuff said.

  10. 15 – Improving incentives for states to share information with the background check system. Why would states need a bribe to do something that could actually stop someone like SHK?

    Good question, but the fact is that a number of states do not report at all, some report only some information (mental health commitments are the least reported, followed closely by failure to report domestic violence restraining orders, and last by failure to adequately report misdemeanor convictions that result in a federal ownership ban). The primary issues are 1) lack of compatability of computer software systems (money), 2) lack of adequate personnel (money) and 3) lack of adequate computer harware at the county level from whence the reports originate (again money). So yeah, incentives would help. Not that Aurora, Columbine or Sandy Hook would have been prevented (none of the shooters were in the “system” and only one obtained his firearms lawfully), but Virgina Tech may have been averted. So it could help to encourage states to perform the reporting that federal law requires of them already.

  11. It takes less than five seconds to change magazines. The best estimate of Newtown LEO response time that day was two minutes. SHK had plenty of time in the gun-free zone to change magazines.

    This argument cuts both ways. Those Five seconds might be the brief window civilians need to get to cover, run away, or rush the shooter — or it might be the lethal pause that dooms the civilian firearm owner. If, however, those extra five seconds have little practical effect, then neither the criminal nor the civilian firearm owner will be inconvenienced. Instead, I think this line of argument is more effective (from the AEI)

    …[100-round rifle magazine] aren’t particularly practical. But one reason they’re impractical – and thus one reason why banning them won’t save many lives – is that they jam a lot, which happened in both Aurora and Tucson. That’s one reason you don’t see military and law enforcement using them. If large capacity magazines were banned, potential mass murderers would shift to standard capacity magazines, which are lighter, fast to change, and almost never jam. It’s not clear what the trade-offs are here.

  12. True or False:
    A Constitutional Republic form of government is based on ‘Rights’ of the individual Citizen.
    The primary purpose for the institution of all government under a Constitutional Republic form is to ‘Secure Rights’ of the Citizens.
    Under a Constitutional Republic form of government, the Citizens have natural inherent ‘Rights’, and grant to those Citizens in positions within government — from local through County thru State and finally to the Federal Government — only certain limited powers, and only those powers necessary for the operation of government itself.
    The framework for the operation of government is established under Constitutional Contracts.
    Each State has its own State Constitution and the framework for the operation of the Federal government is established within the Constitution of the United States. The various State Constitutions and the Constitution of the United States are in effect, legally-binding Contracts between the Citizens as the governed and the those Citizens who occupy positions in government.
    Within the majority of State Constitutions and within the Constitution of the United States are provisions which recognize, declare and enumerate certain specific ‘Rights’.
    Among ‘Rights’ recognized, declared and specified as such in most State Constitutions and the Constitution of the United States is the ‘Right’ of the Citizens of their respective State and of the United States to keep and bear arms.
    These declarations are in fact written laws with at least two primary purposes.
    The recognition and declaration of the specified ’Right’ of the Citizens to keep and bear arms, whom those Citizens in government are both Morally and legally bound under Constitutional Contract to ’Secure’.
    To serve as declared, enumerated, and specified limitations and further restrictions upon those few powers afforded by the Citizens as the governed, on those Citizens occupying positions in government.
    In circumstances in which laws are being considered for enactment on the Federal level, Representatives of the Citizens of their respective States to the Federal government are no less than;- Morally obligated to protect, preserve and defend the ‘Rights’ of the Citizens they represent; Duty bound to uphold the principles, standards and values embodied within their State Constitutions; and
    Legally bound under written law to adhere to the limitations, restrictions and prohitibions on powers granted to them by the Citizens of their State.
    Under the declarations of ‘Rights’ of the whole people as Citizens of the United States, the ‘Right’ of the people to keep and bear arms is specifically declared and enumerated as such via the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
    In part, the purpose and intent for the declaration and enumeration of certain specific ‘Rights’ of the people in the Constitution of the United States as follows:
    [The Preamble to The Bill of Rights]
    Excerpt:
    “Congress of the United States
    begun and held at the City of New-York, on
    Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
    THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
    RESOLVED…”
    Amendment II “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
    source: http://archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html

  13. Look at those children, happy children that wouldn’t be here if not for BHO signing those life saving papers. And Biden, happily clapping while his boss uses that “big stick” he is in such awe of.

    Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing, and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even.
    Will Rogers

  14. Nice analysis. Thanks. A better reply to Obama’s Proposal #1 (Requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales, including those by private sellers that currently are exempt) is: “SHK did not buy his gun from a PRIVATE SELLER.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *