April 10, 2013
BY PATRICK McGANN
Oh, yeah. I forgot. I write a column. OK, let me update you. Job hunt is going well, kinda. Remodel is almost done (which means I’m about halfway finished; I’m on it, hon). Just about everything else is pretty whacked out, as usual.
OK, so here goes: Guns! Guns! Guns! Rand Paul! Black helicopters! Gun registry! Socialism! Fascism! Constitution! New World Order! United Nations usurpation! Filibuster! NRA freedom! OMG, the president is a black man! Let’s make him promise to not use drones to sell crack!
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said last weekend that if a small gang of senators led by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Outer Space, blocks universal background checks on gun transfers, Reid would this time, seriously, not kidding, reform Senate filibuster rules.
Reid’s threat terrified exactly one skittish barn cat and two mating turtledoves (who mistakenly thought a vole had gone rabid).
The bill is SB 649, a Schumer/Leahy concoction. I normally don’t use bill numbers but the bill’s actual name, “Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013” makes even less sense than the number.
Gun control has, as I predicted, been whittled down from the urban progressive porn fantasy (which would ban assault rifles and salted French fries, I think) into what practical people (like me!) have been calling for since Newtown, or Aurora, or Virgina Tech, or for that matter Columbine (after which, I might add, the NRA supported too).
What the bill does is fall back on reasonable common sense, an obvious sign of Democratic desperation.
It requires all gun transfers be subject to the same background checks we have to go through at gun shops. It also, finally, enforces the Gun Control Act of 1968 to include adjudicated mental illness. And it makes the 44-year-old law apply to everybody. Sounds OK to me.
But wait. My latest gun-nut memo – yes, I’m on the list – suggests horror. The NRA and its crazy uncle, the Gun Owners of America, say that this is … well… you’re going to have to see the list above because my high-capacity magazine of exclamation points has been expended.
Polling is pretty consistent on universal background checks. Nine out of 10 Americans support it. Three weeks ago over 80 percent of gun owners, and over 60 percent of NRA members supported it. The gun owner support has since dropped into the low 70s, and I haven’t seen a recent NRA member poll. (The NRA has been on a furious campaign to prevent the flock from wandering off on its own natural inclinations.)
What’s the problem? Well, Rand Paul and his home boys (Cruz, Rubio, Lee, Crapo, Inhofe, Moran, Burr, Johnson, Enzi, Risch, Coates and Roberts) think it could be used to re-enact Kristallnacht, the 1938 orgy of violence by German Nazis against the Jews.
Of course, he does. Paul thinks the same thing about meat inspections and tuberculosis inoculations.
He gets there because the law doesn’t specifically prohibit a national registry of firearms owners. So he assumes the Department of Justice can disobey the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 that explicitly bans a registry. And that will lead to the confiscation of 200 million guns. And that will lead to a Fascist Muslim Marxist Liberal Satanic New Age Dictatorship. Kind of like how he thought the president can ignore murder statutes unless he has his attorney general promise not to. A “still-beat-your-wife?” kind of guy.
The NRA (et al.) is lathered over the cruel, crushing inconvenience of closing background check loopholes. Well, it will be inconvenient. This is going to make it a bunch more inconvenient for felons, addicts, domestic abusers and violently disturbed people to get a gun. Not perfect. Better.
For the rest of us, if we want to buy our neighbor’s AK (or in my case his CZ .223) we’ll have to go to a sporting goods store and wait there for, like, the whole 15-minute instant background check. (The bill imposes no waiting period on person-to-person transfers.)
Daniel Horowitz, in Redstate (a conservative blog), outlined the bill’s other tyrannies: It would “abrogate the right” of yard sale gun transfers to federal authority. (Just like at Ace Hardware? Insufferable! Also, I suggest a dictionary.) And also family transfers. (No, in-family transfers are specifically exempted as are temporary loans.) It imposes a gun sales tax. (No, it sets a maximum fee on checks.) It criminalizes gun owners. (Because we have to promptly report lost or stolen guns.) It tattles on sloppy state record keeping, thus helping criminals. (You’re kidding, right?) And finally, it would “punish anyone who sells a gun to a veteran without realizing he has PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder].” (Show me where it says that). Mental condition (veteran or not – the word is not in the bill) either shows up on a background check or it doesn’t. If he can’t buy a gun at a gun shop, why do you want to sell him one?
This bill is reasonable. It is not a total solution. But it will make our right to keep and bear arms more defensible. So, obviously, it has no chance, even if Harry Reid finally, for once, carries out his threadbare old threat to do the right thing.