Time For a Serious Discussion on Gun Control: Moderated Open Thread
Second Amendment diehards and Gun Control Advocates have been locked in battle since Crispus Attucks was the first American killed by the British at the dawn of the American Revolution in 1770.
Having lived in Texas nearly my entire life, raised by a Conservative Republican father that is also a gun collector and avid gun enthusiast, and having witnessed more than my share of Right-Wing paranoia that "jackbooted government thugs are coming to take your guns away" among residents of the tiny town in which I was raised, and how even the slightest hint of gun control can actually worsen the situation by fanning the flames of that paranoia (see: "gun sales since Obama's election and reelection"), I feel uniquely qualified to moderate a serious discussion on what forms of gun control legislation could reasonably & conceivably pass Congress today filled with Conservatives as terrified of the NRA as most of Americans are of gun violence.
In 1993, the Clinton Administration signed into law "The Brady Bill", named for President Reagan's former Press Secretary James Brady, who survived being shot in the head by Reagan's would-be assassin in 1981. The bill merely called for a completely reasonable 5-day waiting period on the purchase of most firearms ("most" because Republicans managed to insert the infamous "Gun Show loophole"), while the FBI performs a criminal background check of the buyer... which, had it of been in place in 1981, might have prevented Reagan's shooter from obtaining his handgun. The law had been gathering dust for four years as the first Bush Administration refused to sign it thanks to fierce NRA opposition.
The following year, President Clinton signed the "Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act", which included the infamous "Assault Weapons Ban", into law. The ban completely outraged the NRA and Republicans, certain it was the first step in an outright repeal of the Second Amendment. The AWB banned the sale of 19 specific models of semi-automatic firearms as well as a ban on high capacity magazines (clips holding more than 10 rounds).
The AWB was passed with a ten year sunset clause. When it came up for renewal on March 2, 2004, the Bush-43 Administration allowed the ban to expire and assault weapons and high capacity magazines could once again be legally bought & sold. Huzzah!
In recent months, horrific gun violence has filled the airwaves. The murder/suicide of a woman by her NFL boyfriend, terror in an Oregon shopping mall full of Christmas shoppers just last Tuesday, even the "Batman" shooting at an Aurora, CO movie theater, the massacre at an Indian Sikh Temple last August, and the near fatal shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords just to name a few. And the Obama Administration has likely felt hamstrung in their first term, unwilling to even address gun control prior to the election, and (IMHO) would have willingly ignored the issue throughout the rest of his second term rather than validate Right-Wing paranoia that he would "take your guns away if reelected" had it of not been for this recent rash of dramatic fatal shootings.
Brilliant comedian Chris Rock famously joked about leaving guns alone (protected by the Second Amendment), but instead "make every bullet cost $5,000." Definitely a novel solution in the right direction: focus on the ammunition, not the weapons themselves. But as mentioned earlier, my father is an avid target shooter who also makes his own bullets. Packs them right there in the garage with special equipment. You use a lot of bullets target shooting, so packing your own saves lots of money. And a $5,000 "bullet tax" would have no effect on him. "Excessive taxation" would simply drive ammo sales underground or encourage more people to pack their own the way my father does. Likewise, "excessive taxation" constricting a Constitutional right would never survive a Constitutional challenge in the courts. But I think a more reasonable "cigarette-tax" sized fee placed on gunpowder/ammunition sales of perhaps $25.00 per pound of black powder could conceivably pass through Congress in light of recent events IF you stipulated that ALL revenue raised by this tax were spent on "security" of public buildings like schools and "mental health" services.
Another rational idea that focuses on ammunition, bring back the ban on high-capacity clips from the 1993 "Assault Weapons Ban". The ban on magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds was greatly disliked by the NRA and Radical Right, but popular among the general public. Because of its popularity, opponents could not come out too forcefully for its repeal without looking like an irrational "gun nut" that would then be pilloried in the Press and defeated at the ballot box. That's why President Bush simply waited three years for the ban to expire on it's own rather than repeal the popular law early in his first term.
So have at it folks! What are your ideas for limiting gun violence? Tell us your ideas for sensible gun laws that could feasibly pass both a Republican controlled House and survive a Republican filibuster in the Senate (let's pray the filibuster is reformed on January 3rd) to be signed into law by President Obama in his second term.
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary Friday wasn't the first school shooting since the ban expired. In fact, it's already the fourth school-shooting just this year.
But as I've often said, "There's no way to put the genie back in the bottle." The guns are already out there. An outright repeal of the Second Amendment would not only be impossible, but would actually cause gun sales to EXPLODE in the days/weeks/months leading up to its demise. No, we need novel new ideas to prevent & discourage gun violence. Thoughts? (I'll be live Moderating for the next hour.)