April 20th, 2007at 09:48pm Posted by Eli

Well, it looks like the two main strands of Republican reaction to the Virginia Tech shootings thus far have been:

1) This never would have happened if those pussies in the VA legislature hadn’t banned guns on campus. (By the way, if guns are such a necessity for taking out rampage killers like Cho, then why are the wingnuts accusing the students of cowardice for not taking him on without guns?)

2) It’s shameful how the liberals are trying to score cheap political points off of this tragedy.

Chuckie “Yes, I am a psychiatrist” Krauthammer embraces #2 (so to speak), and adds two more of his own:

3) Because improved gun laws won’t stop really determined criminals and might stop law-abiding citizens, they’re a complete waste of time. (I’m pretty sure this one has been around for a very long time, actually.)

4) We need to crack down on crazy people.

E.J. Dionne provides an excellent rebuttal:

[Rep. David Price (D-N.C.)] said that when he confronts voters in his district who criticize him for being “for gun control,” he asks whether they favor background checks for gun buyers, a ban on assault weapons and greater efforts to trace guns used in crimes “to check out gun dealers who supply guns.” In large numbers, he says, such voters agree with him and reject the positions taken by the gun lobby.

Dionne also addresses the illogic of taking precautions against such deadly weapons as shoes and liquid carry-ons, but not guns. He also compares the US to Australia:

John Howard, the solidly right-wing Australian prime minister closely allied with President Bush, bragged this week that when a mass killing took place in Australia in 1996, “we took action to limit the availability of guns, and we showed a national resolve that the gun culture that is such a negative in the United States would never become a negative in our country.”

Unfortunately, as Dionne also describes, the Republicans are completely captive to the gun lobby, and the Democrats are afraid of it.

Finally, I want to link to this blog post by NY State Senator Eric Schneiderman about the Tiahrt Amendment, which essentially makes it illegal for cops to pursue the criminals’ sources for their illegal guns. By way of background, Schneiderman provides this amazing stat:

[A]pproximately 1 percent of guns dealers sell approximately 57 percent of the guns that are used in crimes (ATF Commerce in Firearms Report, February 2000). For an individual shop that is supplying the illegal market that means having hundreds of “crime guns” traced back to them per year, as compared to a law abiding gun dealer who may have one or two of their guns per year recovered from crimes. In fact, 86 percent of gun dealers had no “crime guns” traced to them at all. (2000 ATF Report)

But God forbid that we should take any action against gun dealers who blow off background checks. Not only are they largely shielded by the Tiarht Amendment, but Bob Barr is actually suing Mayor Bloomberg for $400 million over an NYC sting operation to crack down on dodgy out-of-state gun dealers who supplied guns used in NYC crimes.

Gun control is not about taking people’s guns away, as the Republicans and NRA would have everyone believe (although that wouldn’t break my heart); it’s about making it difficult for criminals and terrorists to obtain them. If you’re a law-abiding citizen, you can still buy guns. Will it completely eliminate all gun violence? Hell no. But it will sure as hell reduce it. Guns kill roughly 10 times as many people as 9/11 (Worst Tragedy Ever!) annually. Even a 20 or 25% reduction in that number would be significant and worthwhile.

My own recommendation for the Democrats would be to take a page from the Republican playbook and emphasize the terrorism angle. There are al Qaeda manuals that talk about how easy it is to get guns in the US – how can anyone oppose comprehensive background checks and anti-straw-purchase measures?

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Politics,Republicans

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