Half-cocked about guns

Com­mon sense must pre­vail over hys­te­ria in the firearms de­bate

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Abro­ken heart can be slow to heal, and the heart of a par­ent who has lost a child never will. The bereaved fam­i­lies of shoot­ing vic­tims de­serve to as­suage their grief in any way they can, and to demon­strate that their beloved did not die in vain. But it’s im­por­tant that sor­row not make things worse. Some of the law­mak­ing and lit­i­ga­tion grow­ing out of the Or­lando mas­sacre and other crimes threat­ens to do that.

In the wake of the mas­sacre at the night­club Pulse, the urge to do some­thing, any­thing, about il­licit guns has stalled in the usual par­ti­san dis­agree­ment in the U.S. Se­nate. Democrats backed a mea­sure from Sen. Chris Mur­phy of Con­necti­cut to ex­pand back­ground checks on gun buy­ers, and one from Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein of Cal­i­for­nia that would bar any­one on the ter­ror­ist watch list from buy­ing a gun. Such a pro­hi­bi­tion sounds more in­no­cent than it is. It’s easy to get on a gov­ern­ment watch list. The late Sen. Ted Kennedy once was put on a no-fly list by a bu­reau­crat’s blun­der and his staff, one of the most pow­er­ful on Capi­tol Hill, re­quired weeks of work to get his name lib­er­ated. Due process mat­ters.

Repub­li­cans sup­ported a bill from Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to give po­lice 72 hours to veto a gun pur­chase or show cause in court why the re­stric­tion should be per­ma­nent. A bill from Sen. Charles Grass­ley of Iowa would strengthen the Na­tional In­stant Crim­i­nal Back­ground Check Sys­tem. With­out bi­par­ti­san sup­port, each party’s leg­is­la­tion was doomed.

Fam­i­lies of the vic­tims of the school shoot­ing in New­town, Conn., tout their law­suit against the maker of the weapon that was used to kill 20 chil­dren and six adults in New­town. “Be­cause our coun­try can­not come to­gether on the is­sues of as­sault ri­fles, these mass shoot­ings will con­tinue to hap­pen,” says Matthew Soto, the brother of mur­dered teacher Vic­to­ria Soto. “Our ac­tions are meant to bring about change.” Change for the bet­ter is al­ways good, but alas, the change the law­suit would bring would fur­ther re­strict the rights of the law-abid­ing, but not make any­one safer.

Judge Bar­bara Bel­lis heard com­pet­ing ar­gu­ments on why Rem­ing­ton Arms, par­ent of the com­pany that man­u­fac­tured the ri­fle Adam Lanza fired at Sandy Hook El­e­men­tary School, should be held re­spon­si­ble for his ac­tions, as well as ar­gu­ments about why the suit should be dis­missed. The Pro­tec­tion of Law­ful Com­merce in Arms Act passed in 2005 shields the firearms in­dus­try from law­suits hold­ing them li­able for the ac­tions of buy­ers ex­cept in cases of man­u­fac­turer or dealer neg­li­gence.

Hil­lary Clin­ton has made re­peal of the shield a cen­ter­piece of her cam­paign, and prom­ises to “re­peal the gun in­dus­try’s unique im­mu­nity pro­tec­tion.” There’s noth­ing unique about hold­ing a man­u­fac­turer blame­less for the mis­use of its prod­uct. The FBI cal­cu­lates that 8,124 per­sons were killed with a gun in 2014, and the Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion cal­cu­lates that 32,675 per­sons died in au­to­mo­biles. If Gen­eral Mo­tors or Ford were found li­able for crashes re­sult­ing from the mis­use of their ve­hi­cles, they would both have been in bank­ruptcy court long ago.

The Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion rightly calls anti-gun ac­tivism “po­lit­i­cal the­ater.” Says Chris Cox of the NRA: “We all agree that ter­ror­ists should not be al­lowed to pur­chase or pos­sess firearms. We should all agree that law-abid­ing Amer­i­cans who are wrongly put on a se­cret gov­ern­ment list should not be de­nied their con­sti­tu­tional right to due process.” Com­mon sense con­curs.

In their haste to re­lieve grief and sor­row, it’s im­por­tant that Amer­i­cans not rush out half­cocked, leav­ing evil­do­ers with free­dom to kill the de­fense­less.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.