It would appear that “good common sense” actually did prevail in the US Senate yesterday, with the failure of the expanded Federal background checks that had been put before the floor for a vote. Actually, as I understand it, the process required a 60 vote margin to proceed before the floor for further “amendments”, such as might have been suggested by Senator Feinstein with her assault weapons ban, magazine capacity limits, as well as whatever else might have been contrived by the liberal faction of the Senate. As it stood, the measure failed to carry by only four votes!
Now, I am a son of Virginia, although I have a great deal of respect for West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, as I do for Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey. Both Senators were the architects of a compromise which would require a Federal background check a gun show purchases, as well as internet sales of firearms. On the surface, that seems innocent enough, and certainly none of us want to see firearms fall in the wrong hands. As Senator Manchin put it, the compromise was a “good, common sense approach” that wouldn’t affect law abiding citizens. However, every gun I’ve ever purchased at a gun show or over the internet required a background check by an FFL Dealer. If you don’t sell a gun to an individual at a gun show, then you would sell it in the parking lot outside the gun show, or at a flea market, or hundreds of other venues. Ever hear of a guy that sold his gun to another guy at work because he needed money for Christmas?
With all due respect to the good Senator from West Virginia (and Pennsylvania), anytime an elected official says his or her proposal is good common sense, I want to run for the hills (maybe West Virginia hills, I hear they’re pretty safe)! Try and remember when anything good or common sense came from Capitol Hill.
The glaring flaw in this proposal to me at least, was the term Federal background checks. When the Federal Government becomes involved, all too often what appears innocent enough escalates into an abuse of power or at the very least, a bureaucratic nightmare. Over the years ATF abuses and mistakes have closed honest businesses over procedural mistakes, either on the part of the business owner, or the ATF itself. Anyone want to talk about “Fast and Furious”?
With President Obama’s rant in the Rose Garden last evening, the word “shameful” was iterated to describe what he felt was the Senate’s failure to advance more gun control. Allow me to voice my opinion: What was really “shameful” was Obama’s blatant parading of the Newtown parents to advance his own political agenda. Haven’t they suffered enough? I can’t imagine anything more horrible than the loss of a child. I pray that I can precede my son in death so that I will never have to go through anything like the pain that those poor people have endured.
With that in mind, don’t we owe those parents as well as any victim of gun violence something more meaningful than a cursory attempt to add more laws to those which have already been placed on the books and which go unenforced? What about strict enforcement of existing gun laws, rather than a knee jerk reaction such as we’ve seen in New York, Connecticut and Colorado (not to mention our good neighbor to the east, Maryland)? What about an amendment to the HIPPA laws which protect the privacy of patients whose mental instability would otherwise preclude them from obtaining a firearm? As long as we want to attack the Second Amendment, why not go after the Fourth Amendment?
Here’s some sad facts of life that I used to tell my High School students, but which can apply here as well: With freedom, comes responsibility. This isn’t responsibility that we can impute back to the government, this is personal responsibility! You cannot legislate “goodness” into people. You can pass law and strictly enforce law, and hold people responsible for their actions if they break the law. Freedom requires eternal vigilance, and the worst enemy of freedom is complacency. As I used to preach to my High School Seniors, we need to get involved, because if we don’t, “government” is all too willing to take over; to dictate our actions, our “political correctness” ,as well as our very lives. And then, we lose our freedom. This has happened over and over again in the history of mankind.
As far as the Senate vote on background checks is concerned, we haven’t won anything more than a single skirmish. Believe me, efforts at curbing our Second Amendment rights won’t go away. In a free society there is always an element of risk, and gun violence will happen again. All of the gun laws in the world would not have prevented Adam Lanza from taking his Mother’s guns and killing her and 26 other innocent people.
I don’t pretend to know the answer. But, perhaps, if more good people step forth maybe we can come up with an answer. I think our Founding Fathers pointed the way. Maybe we should step back and reflect on what they had to say. They certainly lived through times which were every bit as violent as now. After all, America and American Democracy isn’t perfect, but it’s the best thing the World has yet seen.