Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tucson Shootings Revive Calls For Tougher Gun Laws : NPR

Tucson Shootings Revive Calls For Tougher Gun Laws : NPR:

"That issue has all but disappeared from the debate in Congress."
Yep. "Tougher Gun Laws", formerly known as gun control, is (a) at least temporarily recognized as a third rail (c.f., the 1994 mid-term elections) and (b) completely ineffective in deterring crime. The shooter (er, alleged shooter) may have been impaired in some way (we'll know more as soon as the alleged shooter enters a plea in U.S. v. Loughner, 11-mj-00035, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix)); this impairment is likely the cause of the shooting, not the presence or absence of gun control legislation.
"In recent years, new federal laws have allowed guns in the national parks."
Yes, and the media was filled with hand-wringing over the bloodshed that was imminent in the National Parks. Park Rangers predicted a tide of lawlessness, both in terms of human-on-human carnage and an increase in poaching. The media has been strangely silent in reporting on the problems that have arisen since the Reagan (!) era regulation (not legislation) was initially overturned by further regulation in the final days of the Bush administration, then overturned by legislation once it became clear that the Obama administration was going to try to put that toothpaste back into the tube.
""Just to show you ... the climate in D.C. about this before this incident, my staff and I couldn't get a hearing on closing the gun-show loophole," [Rep Mike Quigley (D-IL)] said."
The so-called "gun-show loophole" isn't worth a hearing, because it isn't a problem. Virginians endure hearings nearly every year on this non-issue, because it's a great platform for grandstanding by politicians.
"But lawmakers may only be reflecting public opinion. A Gallup Poll released in October found that 44 percent of Americans thought gun laws should be stricter. Compare that to 2000, when 62 percent wanted stricter gun laws, and 1990, when the number favoring stricter gun laws was 78 percent."
Said without a hint of irony, it seems. If our elected representatives ("lawmakers") are truly representative, wouldn't they "reflect public opinion"? Or do we expect them to "know better" than the electorate?
"Based on what we know so far, the system that is supposed to protect us from dangerous and deranged people has failed once again," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Which "system" is that? We don't have a "system" that is supposed to protect us from dangerous and deranged people, so it's not reasonable to assert that it "has failed once again". Mayor Bloomberg isn't a lawyer, so it's probably natural that he wouldn't be familiar with the expectations that a citizen should have regarding police protection.

See, for example:
Castle Rock v. Gonzales, 545 U.S. 748 (2005)
DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, 489 U.S. 189 (1989) ("Poor Joshua!")
Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Peter King of New York announced Tuesday that he plans to introduce legislation banning anyone from carrying a loaded gun within 1,000 feet of a federal official — from the president down to a member of Congress.
Sigh. Yet another attempt to make the federal criminal code even larger than it already is, and a complete failure to recognize that this law WOULD HAVE MADE NO DIFFERENCE in this last weekend's tragedy, because the alleged shooter couldn't have cared less about federal law (or state or local law, for that matter). The rest of us are faced with contemplating how average citizens are supposed to know if a federal official is nearby -- will they now be required to wear readily-identifiable clothing, much like hunters wear during hunting season?
"This legislation, I believe, is essential," he said. "I always believe if we can take a horrible tragedy and attempt to get something good out of it, then all is not lost."
Rahm would be proud of you, Rep King. Real proud.
Knox says efforts should be focused on preventing people with mental illnesses from obtaining firearms. And that may be one area where gun control opponents and backers can find some common ground.
Well, that sounds good until you start to define "mental illness" and who gets to determine if you're "mentally ill". We had that debate in Virginia a few years back, and it's a much thornier issue than it appears at first blush.

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