Tristine Skyler has written a piece for HuffPo looking back on the Tucson shooting of more than a year ago. She hoists the bloody shirts of the victims and waves them enthusiastically, attempting to capitalize on the empathy we all have for people who have suffered a loss and then asks. . .
So what does “after” look like? And what is the progress of the crucially important Fix Gun Checks movement sponsored by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition as we enter into 2012, with a recent second shooting at Virginia Tech bringing back only too fresh memories of a massacre there that still haunts a community?
Oops! Couldn’t pass up the chance to exploit the deaths of innocents disarmed by deliberate policy as a safety measure in an attempt to push her ineffectual agenda, could she? Yes, I said it. The “important Fix Gun Checks” legislation, even if passed, would have been utterly worthless in stopping (or even momentarily inconveniencing) the Tucson and VA Tech mass murderers. That’s because neither one exploited the “loophole” the legislation purports to fix. Did you catch that? That’s right, neither of the shooters were felons or had been involuntarily committed for mental health issues.
So what will this legislation do if enacted? Its proponents say it will require all mental health, substance abuse and criminal records to be entered in a national database which will then be used to stop gun sales to “dangerous people.” And they continually use that scary image of a shady buyer purchasing a dangerous weapon from a shady seller.
They also regularly invoke the images of the Columbine shooters (who were underage and could not legally buy weapons so had a friend – who had a clean record and passed a NICS check – buy weapons for them, illegally), the VA Tech shooter (who had been ordered to get counseling but on an outpatient basis, meaning he was not a prohibited person) and, naturally, the Tucson shooter.
Does anyone else wonder why the sheriff had no trouble pronouncing the Tucson shooter’s name (which I will not repeat, let him rot in obscurity) immediately after it happened? It was because his department was already all too familiar with the creature who had made numerous death threats to individuals over the previous months.
Indeed, he could easily have been arrested and charged with felony harassment (or possibly stalking, I couldn’t really tell from the statutes, but a felony, nevertheless) any time in the six months before the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and the other victims in that parking lot. But since he never was, the shooter wasn’t a prohibited person and would have passed even MAIG’s new and improved checks with flying colors.
Some inevitably argue that even if those shooters would not have been stopped by this law, others surely will be kept from buying guns illegally. Except . . .
1) The law doesn’t address purchasing a firearm it covers transferring a weapon. This is not a distinction without a difference. If I give you money and you give me a gun, I have purchased it. On the other hand, if I say “Ooh, that one looks cool, can I see it?” and the seller hands it to me, he has just transferred a firearm to me. If he didn’t do a background check, then we’re both liable for penalties under Section 924(a)(5) of title 18, USC. To wit, a hefty fine and not more than one year in prison. Oh, hey, there’s that magic number of one year which, under federal law makes you a felon and therefore a prohibited person.
2) According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ February 2002 study Firearm Use by Offenders, about 40% of criminals obtain their firearms from friends or family, 40% from illegal sources on the street, 12% from retail stores or pawnshops (more than 2/3 of those by straw purchase) and 1.7% of criminals obtained their weapons from a flea market or gun show (and no, it doesn’t add up to 100%, it’s calculated using .gov math).
Ms. Skyler finishes with a plaintive cry,
When will this country be safe from illegal guns?
There is a simple but sad answer to your question Tristine – never. There have been murderers since the time of Cain and Abel. All we can do is try to limit the damage. And since guns in citizens’ hands save a minimum of twice as many lives per year as are lost to criminal homicides committed with guns, taking guns from those citizens will certainly not make us safer. Instead, it would be immoral.