October 6, 2015

Clinton Misfires on Gun Control

You can always rely on leftists to offer the wrong solution to a problem.

You can always rely on leftists to offer the wrong solution to a problem. Hillary Clinton’s gun control proposals are typically off the mark. Anything to get the focus off her private email server, right?

“We need universal background checks,” Clinton says of her first “brilliant” idea in her newly released stance on gun violence prevention. “We know that they will work.” Unfortunately, a background check didn’t stop the murderer in Oregon. Nor did it stop the man who killed two journalists on live TV in Virginia, or the sociopath who killed six and wounded Rep. Gabby Giffords in Tucson, or the movie theater killer in Aurora. All four men passed background checks and bought guns legally.

As for the Charleston murderer, Clinton blamed a “loophole in the Brady Bill.” But as we’ve noted previously, that particular case was due to human error, not a “loophole.” Clinton repeated the claim that 40% of guns are bought without a background check, though that statistic originates from a 1994 survey of 251 people — hardly definitive evidence of anything.

Nevertheless, Clinton took a page out of Barack Obama’s playbook and says “if Congress won’t act,” she’ll take “administrative action to close” the supposed loophole by reclassifying anyone who sells a “significant number of guns” as someone “in the business of selling firearms.”

But as The Federalist’s Sean Davis points out, “[T]he federal government already has the statutory authority to define who does and does not qualify as an individual ‘in the business of selling firearms.’ It derives that authority from 18 U.S. Code § 921.”

Anyone who sells more than very occasionally is considered a dealer by existing law, so Clinton’s “loophole” users are already criminals. As Davis adds, “The only federal background check exemption that exists is for transactions between private, non-FFL individuals who reside in the same state. That’s it.”

To be clear, we have little problem with requiring background checks to own firearms (as current law does for the vast majority of transactions), with the caveat that they are not a fix-all solution and, as with any law, effectiveness depends on proper enforcement.

Naturally, Clinton’s proposal only gets worse. She wants gun manufacturers to be liable for how their products are used. It’s typical of Democrats to take away individual accountability. Of course, if this violation of due process was ever allowed, it would put gun manufacturers out of business — as it would any other industry where such an absurd standard was applied.

Even Bernie Sanders criticized Clinton’s notion, saying, “If somebody has a gun, and it falls into the hands of a murderer, and that murderer kills somebody with the gun, do you hold the gun manufacturer responsible? Not any more than you would hold a hammer company responsible if somebody beats somebody over the head with a hammer. That is not what a lawsuit should be about.”

Another of Clinton’s proposals is re-banning certain cosmetic features on some rifles, dubbed with the deliberately nefarious misnomer “assault weapons.” But whether a rifle has a pistol grip or a collapsible stock has no bearing on the deadliness of the weapon, and a ban would not (and did not while it existed) save a single life in any mass shooting. Rifles of any type accounted for just 248 murders in 2014 — that’s fewer than are committed with “hands, fists, and feet.” As much as Clinton would love to relive the “glory years,” her husband’s 1994 “assault weapons” ban was completely ineffective (unless you count costing Democrats the ‘94 election) and unconstitutional.

There is one thing, however, that could reduce mass shootings: Ending the phony idea that a “gun free zone” sign will deter anyone from a murderous rampage.

Whether it’s Sandy Hook, Aurora, Virginia Tech or Umpqua Community College, the most frequent common denominator in mass shootings is that they take place in locations where potential victims have been prohibited from defending themselves.

Which leaves gun confiscation — something Obama implied he’d like. But in a nation with 300 million guns and the acknowledged God-given right to self-defense with firearms woven into our Constitution, gun confiscation is never going to happen. Nor should it.

Still, there is hope. While the number of guns in the U.S. has increased 62% since 1994, violence with guns has fallen nearly 50% in the same time period. In other words, it’s not a gun problem.

Of the 30,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. every year, more than two-thirds are suicides. Democrats not only don’t ever make the distinction (because 30,000 gun deaths sounds far worse than 8,500 murders), they push assisted suicide laws like the one Gov. Jerry Brown just signed in California.

A final point. Clinton and the gun-grabbing Left operate from the errant notion that the Second Amendment applies primarily to hunting or sport shooting. Clinton said, “Ideally, what I would love to see is gun owners, responsible gun owners, hunters, form a different organization and take back the Second Amendment from these extremists,” a reference to the NRA. Indeed, there are calls to brand the NRA a “terrorist organization.”

Of the Heller and McDonald rulings that followed an originalist interpretation of the right to keep and bear arms, Clinton also said recently, “[T]he Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment. And I am going to make that case every chance I get.”

The nation’s first chief justice, Joseph Story, offered the perfect rebuttal way back in his 1833 “Commentaries on the Constitution”: “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic.”

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