States Do What Washington Won’t on Gun Control

by Diane Dimond on January 11, 2016

President Obama Sheds Tears for Gun Victims

President Obama Sheds Tears for Gun Victims

There has been much media coverage on the President plans to control gun violence but I fear we’re missing the bigger picture.

Surely, the emotional frustration the president displayed while unveiling his latest executive order is worth noting and so are his ideas. But, realize, these are the same suggestions he proposed in 2013, after the Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy. Congress ignored them.

By now you’ve heard about his proposals: More people who sell guns – at gun shows and on-line – should be licensed and get mandatory background checks on their buyers. The FBI should process the checks 24/7 with a group of new agents and notify states when someone has illegally tried to buy a gun.

Nat'l Crime Information Center Data Base

Nat’l Data Base Keeps Track of Criminals

Additionally, state law enforcement agencies are urged to share complete criminal histories with the federal data base. They are being assured they can also legally share citizen’s mental health information. The president proposes $500 million to expand mental health treatment nationwide. And, again, he wants more research into gun safety technology.

None of these ideas can be funded without Congressional approval so, good luck with that. Capitol Hill apparently believes no new laws are needed to help stem the nation’s problem of routine mass murder and gun infused gang violence.

I used to think that too, writing here previously that we already have enough gun laws on the books if we’d only just enforce them. But times are different now and I’ve changed my mind. We have to do something to try keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill – even if it’s just taking baby steps toward this deadly nationwide problem.

Protects Its Member's Interests With Millions

Protects Its Member’s Interests With Millions

The good news is that while the paralytic politicians in Washington continue to do nearly nothing individual states are on a campaign of change. Once again, states are doing what Washington won’t – passing new legislation focused on today’s needs, not relying on yesterday’s laws.

The Washington-based National Rifle Association used to spend the lion’s share of lobbying money to insure the interests of its membership were protected. But now gun control groups have attracted big-money supporters – like former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who has pledged at least $50 million to the anti-gun cause – and they’ve taken the fight directly to the states. They figure why bother with a deaf, dumb and blind-to-the-problem Congress when progress can be made one state at a time?

Just like the successful push for same sex marriage laws these folks are tackling their issue state-by-state.

Bloomberg Donates Millions to Fight Gun Violence

Bloomberg’s Millions Go To Change Gun Laws

So far, eighteen states have passed tougher gun buyer background check laws. Nine states have adopted new laws to keep guns out of the hands of known domestic abusers.

The Connecticut governor’s move to bar anyone whose name appear on the government’s terrorist watch list from buying a gun is being considered by several other states.

In Virginia, the Attorney General has declared that outsiders from 25 states who have concealed weapons permits will no longer be allowed to carry a weapon there.

Michigan’s Governor is set to veto (again) a bill that allows legally registered guns to be carried into schools.

Nevada and Maine seem poised to join the march toward adopting more stringent background checks. New Jersey is among the states wondering why ammunition is sold on-line.

MassShooterMontage

Doing Nothing Sends a Message Too

While some will now try to shift the focus to whether the president’s executive orders are legal, realize we are just days or weeks away from reading about the next American massacre. I hate to sound maudlin but what happened most recently in  Charleston, South Carolina; Roseburg, Oregon; San Bernardino, California and thousands of other locations is no longer an anomaly, it’s a way of life in America now. A shameful, routine truth.

Yes, 99.9% of all gun owners are responsible citizens so it begs the question: Where are they on the issue of keeping firearms out of the hands of those who would use them for ill? To blindly accept the NRA’s age old mantra of, “We already have enough laws!” solves nothing. It leaves us powerless against the next mass shooting, the next gang carnage.

It’s easy to pooh-pooh the various suggestions about how to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. Critics of change seem to think that unless a proposal is 100% guaranteed to fix the gun problem in America we should reject it.

I’ll take constitutionally sound baby steps over years of Washington’s inaction any day.

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Diane Dimond January 11, 2016 at 11:13 am

ABQ Journal Reader Bob Adams writes:

Good Morning, Diane:

I read your editorial, “States doing what Congress won’t on gun control laws”.

You’re not helping…..

I expected more of you, and I’m deeply disappointed.

On October 12, 2014, you wrote to me and said: “We haven’t come up with one solid idea since Newtown except for those who continue the meaningless mantra of ….”More gun laws! More gun control!” “. Now, you admit you’ve changed your mind… only to join those who continue the “meaningless mantra”?

Of course you must realize that none of the gun control proposals you are promoting would have prevented any of the mass shootings?

You praised the move to bar anyone on the Terrorist Watch List from buying a gun (Actually the No-Fly List). Surely you must know that is unconstitutional? People are being denied Due Process.

You must know that anyone – even you – can be put on the No-Fly List for the most arcane reasons? And that you have no recourse? You aren’t allowed to find out how you were placed on the list, and can’t request to be removed from it. In fact, you can’t even find out if you’re on the list.

Now, here is a solid idea…. Rather than the President’s worthless proposal to punish unlicensed sellers of firearms by making criminals out of law-abiding citizens….. (unlicensed selling is specifically allowed by law. See atf-p-5310.2 https://fnn.app.box.com/s/e5ibgdi1r50f7ofqg6u9tx3myoowd30b) – the government could open the FBI background check process to anyone selling a personal gun. However, that option hasn’t even been mentioned. Why is that? Think about it. The one process that could be effective to prevent sales to bad guys isn’t even being considered…… Maybe the actual goal (behind the scenes) isn’t what we’re being told?

If you would like more information on the No-Fly List and Homeland Security’s Automatic Targeting System (ATS) which feeds the List, just let me know.

Sincerely,
Bob Adams
Albuquerque, NM

Diane Dimond January 11, 2016 at 11:14 am

ABQ Journal Reader Tom Coyle writes:

“Diane: As a retried Police Inspector, I applaude your article on, “States Doing What Congress Won’t on Gun Control Laws”. Congress has become a dud on several things.

In addition to your commendable current efforts, please look into the lack of licensed gun dealer inspections by the ATF. It is my understanding that agency is years behind in their inspections.

Also, as I have previously written, legal gun owners are responsible for the effective security of their weapons carried or stored, and should be punished if their gun falls into the hands of a killer.”

Thank you, respectfully,

Tom Coyle

Diane Dimond January 11, 2016 at 11:15 am

Noozhawk Reader AN50 writes:

” Not one of the mass murders you mention would have been affected by the laws proposed. Once again we as a culture take the intellectually and politically dangerous route of focusing on the wrong thing. You make distractions and lead people away from the real problem and in the process give government more power.”

Diane Dimond January 11, 2016 at 11:15 am

The point here, AN50, is not whether any of the state proposals would have stopped recent mass murderers. The point is that doing NOTHING sends the wrong message. We might as well call a date and a time where all Americans gather, shrug our shoulders and yell to the heavens, “Okay, we give up! Buy as many guns and as much ammunition as you want – and shoot at will!”
I believe we have to start acting like we care about gun violence instead of the meaningless hand wringing we all do after the latest mass shooting. Taking no proactive steps sends a terrible, self-defeating message. ~ DD

Diane Dimond January 11, 2016 at 11:24 am

AN50 replies:

“Good Grief Diane! Its not friggen GUN violence, its VIOLENCE period! The more people concentrate on the tool and not the hand, the less we actually do about the cause. Those damned guns aren’t leaping up into a hand and commanding the owner of said hand to shoot someone. The most hyped media blitzes on gun violence, which happen to be less and less frequent, are ones where guns were purchased in legal way or transferred outside of any law that would restrict them. The most prolific violence where a gun is used is a direct result of our idiotic war on drugs and the huge criminal blackmarket it has fueled.

Throwing up your hands and screaming at an inanimate thing is not going to stop people from using that thing to do more violence. Until we get that through our stupid thick bone filled skulls nothing will change. If you strip the guns from every single legal and illegal gun owner in this country you will immediately have an explosion in violence using some other means. We put a fence on our cold springs bridge to ban suicides there, now the suicidal just throw themselves in front of trains. Get it? Start dealing with the people and not the things or the problems won’t go away.”

Diane Dimond January 11, 2016 at 11:25 am

DD replies to AN50:

“As you well know, AN50, I have written here, frequently, about the need to concentrate on increased mental health treatment for these (mostly) young men who commit mass shooting sprees. I have written over and over about that topic – give worried parents more places to put their mentally sick, insist insurance companies cover such treatment, make it mandatory that once institutionalized follow up counselling is available, devise programs where school officials and police can more actively suggest mandatory observation periods…..
Now, however, AN50, I’m suggesting other steps….laws that maybe mimic the ones many states are passing.
The bottom line: continuing to argue while doing nothing isn’t working…and it sends the message that we, as a nation, aren’t really interested in finding solutions.
I don’t profess to have all the answers but to simply continue to remind us that its sick people who commit these awful crimes (as you have in your post above) does nothing. ~ DD

Diane Dimond January 11, 2016 at 11:46 am

Facebook Friend Ronald Jeffries Tallman writes:

“At least make it a bit harder for some people to obtain them. Improve safety and try to lessen accidents. Now things and people can change later on in time we may not be able to control that. No- for the umpteenth time no one is talking about taking guns away if that ever happened we would be in an anarchy possibly Marshall Law state. This is “backwards thinking” to believe these eventual steps will result in such. /// Laws must be enforced and steeper penalty for those involved with illegal gun sales. I sell one a gun at a garage sale I may have some responsibility to that transfer. Don’t think the penalty is enough here and whether the laws are being embraced to the fullest extent.”

Diane Dimond January 11, 2016 at 11:47 am

Facebook Friend Mary Pastoor Mccowin writes:

“This should be a state issue. Not all states are experiencing horrific gun violence. They don’t need the same regulations.”

Diane Dimond January 11, 2016 at 11:48 am

Facebook Friend Nancy Robel writes;

“I agree whole heartedly. We can change and must flex into the changing times. We can do this without taking away the rights of the responsible citizens owning guns.”

Diane Dimond January 11, 2016 at 12:27 pm

ABQ Journal Reader John Hooker:

“Dear Ms. Dimond,

I read your essay in Sunday’s Albuquerque Journal with interest. But why do you give a free pass to obstructionist Republicans (and especially the Tea Party minority) in Congress and Michigan and elsewhere? The Republican Congress will not discuss any limits on gun purchases and use. The Republican governors like Scott Walker and Rick Snyder and Republican state legislatures will not discuss any limits on gun purchases and use. At the same time, Democratic governors like Dannel Malloy and Democratic legislatures as in California are taking action.

Your language carries the Republican talking point that “ALL of government is corrupt and inept (not us). Don’t bother voting! Elections don’t make a difference.” So we, the voters say, “A pox on all of you.” And why bother voting?

Is that what you believe? Is that what you want to happen? Why don’t you and your colleagues in the media just tell the facts?”

Sincerely yours,
John Hooker
Albuquerque

Diane Dimond January 11, 2016 at 12:31 pm

DD replies:

“I try hard not to engage in finger pointing, Mr. Hooker. To my mind, it’s an intellectual cop out.

The fact of the matter is – democrats are obstructionists too on many issues. And, when pressed by the electorate the two parties do, indeed, compromise. Look at the recent legislative moves to revamp the criminal justice, prison sentencing laws.

I feel my job is to point out the obvious that today’s way of thinking often overlooks (forest for the trees mentality) The fact is: We have a real problem with gun violence in this country …. Mass shootings, gang shootings and a tremendous number of suicide-by-gun and OUR LEADERS ARE DOING NOTHING TO HELP SOLVE THE PROBLEM.

I am neither a democrat or republican. As I frequently write I am a live long registered independent.

I do not believe in your “pox on all your houses” scenario. I believe nothing changes until citizens stand up and scream WE WANT CHANGE. Then, the politicians – no matter what party they belong to – realize their very survival is contingent upon doing what the electorate says it wants. “

Diane Dimond January 11, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Facebook Friend Kurt G. Kaner writes:

“Well, according to today’s Chicago Tribune a convicted murderer/ robber was charged again with murder. In 1980 he was given a 70 year sentence for those crimes. So, Chicago, Ill. is releasing killers, early, so they can kill again before they die of natural causes.

On a positive note: a store owner, who legally carried, shot dead two armed robbers who were in the process of, first, pistol whipping him and then robbing him. Horrible story, but at least the good guy is alive.

Some Chicago politicians, Toni Preckwinkle for one, is adamantly against mandatory minimums for violent offenders……….. Gang banger caught with a gun.

Chicago also has one of the lowest percentages of federal prosecution for gun offenses. Chicago is also a killing field that is only going to get worse.

Actually,doing nothing is better then symbolically doing something that is totally non effective. Like throwing 6oz cups of water on a burning bldg. It might make you feel good, but it is futile.

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