Jeff Flake Chases a Gun Law Already on the Books
The easiest way to exploit tragedy is to "do something" — even if that something is based entirely on a lie.
Yesterday, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) announced that he had partnered with fellow Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) to produce the Domestic Violence Loophole Closure Act — “a bill … to prevent anyone convicted of domestic violence — be it in criminal or military court — from buying a gun.” He explained that the “Texas shooter was able to buy a gun because what civilian courts call domestic violence, military courts call assault.” In other words, Flake says the assailant’s previous conviction in military court failed to meet the criteria under existing federal law that would have precluded his passing a firearm background check. Except that isn’t exactly true.
National Review’s David French sets the record straight: “The definition of a ‘misdemeanor crime of domestic violence’ doesn’t require a specific ‘domestic violence charge.’ It merely has to meet the elements laid out in the statute. The ATF makes this abundantly clear on its website.” According to the ATF, “A qualifying offense need not be designated as a domestic violence offense. For example, a conviction for assault may qualify … even if the offense is not designated as a domestic violence assault.” The bottom line, says French: “The Air Force dropped the ball” when it neglected to report the Texas shooter’s criminal conduct.
Even worse, the problem is systemic. The Associated Press says, “The Pentagon has known for at least two decades about failures to give military criminal history information to the FBI, including the type of information the Air Force didn’t report about the Texas church gunman who had assaulted his wife and stepson while an airman.” It adds, “John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said he is working on legislation that would require swift reporting of military criminal history data. The requirement currently is based on an internal Pentagon rule that does not have the force of law.”
What we have here is typical bureaucratic chicanery. The private sector doesn’t have the luxury of evading, twisting or otherwise debating semantics of the law, whereas government entities seem to always have an excuse for when things go awry. What is also clear is that the Texas killer was a known quantity who slipped through the cracks, literally escaped from a mental health institution, and it’s all because of bureaucratic incompetence.
Democrats and RINOs like Flake don’t care as much about enforcing current regulations as they do about adding to them, because they believe the ends justify the means. If the goal is to eventually outlaw private gun ownership, the status quo doesn’t get us closer to realizing it. What does get us closer is politicizing tragedies through raw emotions. And the easiest way to exploit that is to “do something” — even if that something is based entirely on a lie.