“The gun control group formed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday will release a questionnaire it is going to ask federal candidates to fill out as it decides which ones to support in this year’s mid-term elections,” cnn.com reveals. “Bloomberg in April pledged to spend $50 million this election year to help support candidates who will back further gun control efforts and to combat the politically powerful National Rifle Association.” Click here to read the 10 questions in Bloomberg’s 2014 Gun Sense Voter Federal questionnaire, a document that reveals the civilian disarmament industrial complex’s anti-gun agenda and unlocks Mayor Mike’s cash. Or make the jump for the text and our instant analysis . . .
1. Do you agree: we can both do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protect the rights of responsible, law-abiding people?
By italicizing the word “both” Bloomie’s anti-ballistic bully boys are sending a clear message: “we will be watching the way you vote.” Fair enough. The NRA scorecard is the model there. Obviously, the bit about protecting the rights of responsible law-abiding people is complete horseshit. As you might have guessed by the omission of the word “gun” in front of the word “rights.” Still, they’ve got to say that, don’t they.
2. Under federal law, anyone who buys a gun from a federally licensed dealer must pass a criminal background check, but the same person can end-run this requirement by buying a gun from an unlicensed seller, including from a stranger that the buyer met online or at a gun show. This loophole enables felons, domestic abusers, and other prohibited purchasers to buy guns with no questions asked. In the states that require background checks on all handgun sales, there are 38% fewer women shot to death by their intimate partners and 39% fewer law enforcement officers killed with handguns. Do you support requiring background checks for all gun sales (with reasonable exceptions such as for transfers between close family members and temporary transfers for hunting and self-defense)?
I’m amazed Bloomberg didn’t trot out ye olde debunked stat that [falsely] claims gun shows account for 40 percent of all firearms purchases. Instead of focusing exclusively on the so-called “gun show loophole” Bloomberg’s survey widens the kvetch to include “a stranger that the buyer met online.” Not new, but trendy enough.
The headline stat reveals a new front in the anti-gunners’ agenda: correlating women shot in domestic abuse cases and shot cops with “lax guns laws.” It squares Bloomberg’s bucks with the Democrats’ recently revived War on Women meme, and throws a bone to the Boys in Blue.
The parenthetical carve-out for universal registration – excepting transfers between “close family members and temporary transfers for hunting and self-defense” – is completely unworkable. What’s a “close family member”? How long is a “temporary transfer for hunting”? Or self-defense? Practical, no. Attempted political palatability, yes. Can you say “wiggle room”?
3. Federal law prohibits anyone from having firearms if they have been convicted of abusing their spouses, or if they are the subjects of active restraining orders taken out by their spouses, but not if they have been convicted of stalking or have been convicted of abusing their dating partners. The share of intimate partner violence that occurs in dating relationships has been steadily growing—and as of 2008, more domestic violence homicides were committed by dating partners than by spouses. Do you support a law that would prohibit gun possession by convicted stalkers and people convicted of—or, who after due process, are actively restrained from— abusing a dating partner?
Another “War on Women” play. In this one, Bloomberg’s aligning himself with California legislators crafting “gun violence prevention order” legislation (laws that are already in place in Connecticut and Texas). Politicians seeking to suck on Hizzoner’s proverbial tit have to agree to gun confiscation for anyone under a domestic abuse restraining order. That “after due process” bit? A rear guard action to forestall protestors pointing out that judges give out restraining orders like the Candy Man dispensing M&Ms.
4. Currently, federal law requires licensed gun dealers to conduct criminal background checks on all prospective gun buyers. Because websites that facilitate gun sales are not held to similar standards, unlicensed high-volume sellers use these sites to sell guns to a vast market of anonymous buyers without background checks—making it easy for felons and other dangerous people to buy guns from strangers they meet online with no questions asked. In fact, an estimated 25,000 guns are transferred to criminals with prohibiting records each year on one website alone, Armslist.com. This double standard makes it easy for prohibited people to get guns, and it gives unlicensed high-volume sellers who use websites like Armslist an unfair advantage over licensed gun dealers. Do you support legislation that would level the playing field by treating sites like Armslist as licensed gun brokers, and require a background check every time someone buys a gun through one of these sites?
Ladies and gentlemen, the questionnaire has left the building. Not only is Question #4 boring, it’s Question 2 all over again – only targeted directly at our dear friends at Armslist. In fact, this would be an excellent time for Armslist to sue the Mayor and his minions for libel. Meanwhile, ha! Bloomberg wants to shut down Armslist because he’s championing licensed gun dealers? Now that’s what I call chutzpah!
5. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is missing hundreds of thousands of records that would block dangerous people, including those with severe mental illness, from passing background checks when they try to buy guns. States are responsible for sending these records to NICS, but vary widely in their performance. Do you support an increase in congressional funding for the federal grant programs that help states submit their records?
Show me a politician who’s for increasing funding to any well-meaning government program and I’ll show you . . . a politician. What’s not said: NICS is a joke.
The FBI background check provision for new firearms sales prevents crime like the warning before porn prevents underage viewers. NICS is also a clear violation on the Second Amendment’s prohibition on laws that infringe Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. More than that, it creates a federal database of firearms owners, one that’s prohibited by law. Just thought I’d point that out.
6. People listed on the federal government’s terror watch lists are prohibited from boarding airplanes—but current federal law does not bar them from buying guns or explosives. Indeed, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office, people on terror watch lists bought firearms or explosives from licensed dealers 1,321 times between 2004 and 2010. Do you support legislation—drafted by the George W. Bush administration—that would close this “terror gap” by giving the FBI the discretion to block these people from buying guns?
Wow. A federal judge recently struck down the Department of Homeland Security’s “no-fly” terrorist watch list (not “lists” plural). Judge Brown ruled that the DHS’s list is unaccountable to the public and therefore unconstitutional. You would have thought Bloomberg would ditch his position favoring banning gun sales to Americans on the list – given Question 3’s insistence on “due process” for gun owners subject to domestic abuse restraining orders. But no.
In fact, Bloomberg’s questionnaire specifically asks pols to grant the FBI “discretion” to block gun sales to whomever it suspects of terrorism. Again, without transparency or accountability. What could possibly go wrong?
7. Under current law, it is difficult to prosecute and convict people suspected of trafficking illegal guns because the penalties for trafficking are small and violations are difficult to prove. In fact, the current penalty for gun trafficking is the same as for trafficking chickens across state lines. Do you support legislation that would create a strong federal gun trafficking statute with serious penalties?
A new law that’s tough on chickens and the causes of chickens? I mean, guns? Anyway, since when is it difficult to prosecute someone for something because the penalties are small? Tell that to vice cops. And if you’re really interested if the current law is too “lax,” click here to read the penalties (mostly a ten-year stretch, but life if a silencer or machine gun’s involved). Or click here to see the wide range of laws the ATF uses to prosecute weapons traffickers.
Bottom line: we don’t need more laws – or a more active Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires). But a new, “stronger” gun trafficking law sure sounds good.
8. In many mass shootings, including the 2011 shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, AZ, bystanders have been able to subdue perpetrators of mass shootings when the shooters stop to reload. Research from Virginia showed that the federal limit on high-capacity magazines in effect from 1994 to 2004 led to a 50% reduction in criminals being armed with high-capacity magazines— and when the law expired, the share of crime guns with such magazines doubled.Several states have enacted limits on the size of ammunition magazines. Do you support limits on the capacity of ammunition magazines?
Many mass shootings? How many? Which ones? The questionnaire’s clever wording makes it seem like the Giffords shooting’s exposition is the rule rather than the exception. Of course, mass shootings themselves are the exception to the rule; never mind gun trafficking statutes. What about a policy that keeps violent criminals off the streets? You might think Bloomberg included the Giffords shooting to scare pols but I couldn’t possibly comment.
Except to point out that the “research from Virginia” was conducted by the less-than-entirely-unbiased Washington Post in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown slaughter, approved by the equally-less-than-entirely-unbiased researcher Garen Wintemute. Without boring you with a full deconstruction of the data, here’s a sub-head from the story: “Effect hard to measure.” ‘Nuff said?
Nope. Regardless of the practical value of a ban on magazines holding more than a certain amount of ammunition on the crime rate (i.e. none), Americans want access to standard capacity magazines to defend themselves, or for fun. Under the Constitution, they have a right to buy these “high-capacity magazines” without local, state or federal interference.
9. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have child access prevention laws, which allow criminal charges for adult gun owners who fail to store their guns safely and keep them out of the reach of children. Do you support laws that allow a prosecutor to bring charges if a gun owner stores a firearm negligently, a minor accesses the gun, and harm results?
There ought to be a law! Oh wait, there is. Every state in these here United has laws that the state can use to punish a gun owner who fails to secure his firearm from a minor who uses the gun to commit a crime (which is also a crime). Not all of them have so-called “safe storage” laws. And for good reason. Gun owners in those states [rightly] fear that safe storage laws open the door to home inspections.
10. Historically, states have set their own laws for who may carry a concealed gun and where they may carry it in public. Many states require applicants to be trained in gun safety and do not grant concealed carry permits to teenagers or people who have recently been convicted of assault, battery, or stalking offenses—while other states have weaker standards and will allow individuals like these to carry in public. Some in Congress have proposed “national concealed carry reciprocity” legislation, which would create a new federal mandate forcing every state to recognize concealed carry permits from every other state, no matter how lax a state’s laws are. Do you oppose national concealed carry reciprocity, which would overturn state public safety laws and replace them with a lowest-common denominator standard?
It appears that Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-gun crusaders are afraid that national concealed carry reciprocity is a thing. And it just might be, if the Republicans take the Senate and the presidency. I guess the inclusion of a “down to reciprocity” question here lets politicians in states with “tough” civilian disarmament legislation play the fed/state rivalry card. “We don’t want Uncle Sam telling us how to run our state!”
This raises the most important question of all: how many pols will take Bloomberg’s money? Those who do run the very real risk of their opponents asking “Do you want Michael Bloomberg telling us how to represent our state?” (Note: that didn’t go down well in Colorado.) By opposing the NRA on the NRA’s turf – funding candidates who publicly support his anti-gun position – Bloomberg is playing someone else’s game. Which is just as well. Because he’s going to lose.