Proposed gun laws have been mostly flying under the radar with the wild debacles of the new GOP-controlled Congress, but congressional members on both sides of the issue are proposing gun laws. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), whose career took a radical shift after she was seriously wounded by a shooter four years ago, went Capital Hill to support reintroduction of legislation in the House to strengthen background checks for gun buyers. Co-sponsor Peter King of New York has been joined by three other Republicans.
The federal bill would require background checks on private sales at gun shows, over the Internet, and through classified ads, transactions during which a check is not usually run through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. It would also strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by providing states with incentives to improve reporting of criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to be included in the system’s database. Giving exceptions to transfers between family and friends, the bill would make misuse of gun-sale records a felony.
The NRA hit a new low when it tweeted its ridicule of the disabled woman, “Gabby Giffords: Everyone Should Have to Pass Background Check My Attacker Passed.” The gunman who massacred Giffords and others in Arizona had passed a background check, but Giffords was not supporting the law because it would have stopped that shooter. Law enforcement and criminal justice experts think background checks would reduce gun violence. Congress couldn’t pass sensible gun laws with a majority of Democrats, and it certainly won’t do it with a GOP majority. The NRA stupidity was a meaningless cheap shot.
Meanwhile Giffords’ home state has passed a bill removing bans on sawed-off shotguns and gun silencers. The new governor has not signed the bill yet but is expected to do so. Because of the state’s loose laws, Guns & Ammo magazine has awarded Arizona “best state for gun owners” during the last two years. Arizona plans to get the award for the coming year with pending laws such as preventing cities and towns from enforcing federal gun laws and allowing guns into such public buildings such as libraries so that people can protect themselves.
On the other side, GOP members in Congress, some of them the same people who thought that it was a good idea to undermine the president by communicating directly with the Iranian ayatollah, have again brought up the gun reciprocity bill allowing concealed carry in any state of the nation with a permit from just one state. Co-sponsor Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) compared gun permits to driver’s licenses. He is a strong states-rights legislator—until a federal law gives him what he wants.
After Cornyn justified the law with a comparison between driver’s licenses and gun permits, columnist Gail Collins pointed out the difference. She wrote that people can probably exhibit “a certain level of accomplishment when it comes to the basics of stopping, starting and steering.” On the other hand, those in Mississippi with gun permits have exhibited only proof that they can fill out applications. Virginia has only an online course, and Florida gives permits to people who live anywhere in the U.S. if they contribute $112 to the Florida economy. In 2007, the Sun Sentinel discovered that over 1,400 of these contributors had pled guilty or no contest to felonies and still received permits. In the same six-month period, Florida gun permits were given to 216 people with outstanding warrants, 28 people with active domestic violence injunctions against them, and six registered sex offenders. States with lax gun laws have given the NRA almost everything they want. The NRA will use a potential federal law to raise more money.
Even staunch NRA member Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is opposing a NRA-backed bill in his state that would eliminate any permits or training for carrying concealed guns. The bill passed both the state House and Senate. These are the people who would be carrying guns in any state if the reciprocity law passes.
In Ann Arbor (MI), 22-year-old Joshua Wade thought it was a good idea to open carry his revolver and ammunition to his younger sister’s choir performance. Although a teacher called the police, they couldn’t do anything because Michigan permits open carry everywhere. Ann Arbor Public Schools reviewed their gun policies and issued a state of concern about what had happened. At the next meeting, Wade and 25 of his friends came to openly display their loaded guns. Most of the 200 teachers, parents, and other residents, didn’t want guns in their schools, and 40 of them spoke out against open carry in schools. Wade told the crowd that carrying guns in schools “just makes sense.” They laughed at him. After he quit spouting nonsense, Ann Arbor’s school board passed a resolution demanding that Michigan’s legislature let them to ban guns in schools.
Wade’s cause isn’t helped by another incident in Michigan when Shawn Nixon of the Hell’s Saints Open Carry Group carried his gun around a school in Madison Heights and started a confrontation with police. Terrified teachers, students, and administrators went on lockdown. Proud of his behavior, Nixon posted a YouTube of his actions. One of his statements was “I don’t have to answer your questions, I’m not under arrest, but you do have to answer my questions, you’re public servants and my tax dollars pay you.” Mom’s Demand Action For Gun Sense In America and Everytown For Gun Safety are using clips from Nixon’s YouTube to show the need for stronger and common sense gun laws.
The far-right NRA is now being attacked by farther-right group Glenn Beck who demanded that anti-tax Grover Norquist not be allowed on the NRA board. According to Beck, Norquist is a front man for the Muslim Brotherhood and is therefore “a very bad man.” NRA’s Wayne LaPierre said that thousands of members are threatening to cancel, causing LaPierre to investigate Norquist and publish the results on the NRA website.
U.S. Air Force Sharpshooter Michael Wimberly has a message for the people who want unlimited rights to carry a gun anywhere with no training. As a child in Texas, he was trained that the only reason for a gun is to kill.
“The mentality of many gun owners today is a far cry from what I knew growing up. What is heard from open-carry fans seems to be a fascination with guns — a swagger-inspired fascination that possessing a pistol in a public forum will make everyone safe. The chutzpah of open-carry advocates: We will be the protectors against the bad guy!
“But I wonder: When the bullets fly, will police know who is the good guy? Maybe one will be a hero and then again maybe not when others pull their guns and begin to fire. Hero-seekers are a danger to themselves and others.”
If the reciprocity law passes Congress with a veto-proof vote, more and more people like George Zimmerman will wander the country causing millions of dollars in protecting those who don’t know if it’s the “good guy” or the “bad guy with a gun.”
Wimberly described his concern when he sees someone with a firearm in public: “Something tells me you fail to appreciate the wisdom of the 1890 Texas Legislature, which passed the no-carry law that served us well for 125 years. Lawmakers of the day had the keen understanding about what they were doing and why.” Texas wasn’t the only place with gun sense. During the 19th century, Dodge City, Wichita, Tombstone–indeed all of Wyoming–had gun ordinances that prohibited carrying guns in town.
The Second Amendment: “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.”
The meaning of the Second Amendment: you can bear your arms, but you need to be trained, and carrying those arms is to be regulated by the government.