No Longer Are There Excuses for Doing Nothing About Guns

I have been advocating for sensible gun control since 1982, when a friend of mine was shot and killed in a robbery of the store he worked in and another killed himself by putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger. The robber was a career criminal who had no business carrying a gun, and my friend suffered from depression, and should not have been in a position to buy or even have access to a gun.

It’s been almost 40 years now, and that year is still fresh in my mind. In part, it;’s because very little has changed in the intervening years. It is 37 years later, and we are still seeing a veritable bloodbath every year thanks to guns. What’s worse is, the reasons that are given for inaction have become more insipid than ever. The anti-gun control diehards keep citing the Second Amendment, as if the Second Amendment protects the guns. There is a reason I call the die-hard gun worshippers “gunloons,” and it’s only partly because they treat guns as if they’re a life force. Gunloons love to use a version of the Second Amendment that doesn’t exist to make their case against any sort of gun control measures, and they are against virtually all gun control measures, especially those that may work. They even have a Supreme Curt case to work from, in “DC vs. Heller” but they don’t read it because, well, they don’t read anything. The “Heller” case reinforces the Second Amendment – the actual Second Amendment, that is, and not the fictionalized version proffered by the NRA and other loons.

For nearly 40 years now, my efforts to get Congress and several state governments to adopt common sense gun control have largely been stymied due to fear of the gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association. However, in recent years, a few things seem to have changed. I call it the “Parkland Effect,” after the brave students who witnessed a terrible shooting at their high school and said, “enough!” and who seem to be fearless in their pursuit of gun sense. For the first time in my adult lifetime, I feel as if moderate gun control is possible because the needle has moved somewhat.

Consider this; the FBI announced yesterday, in Ohio, the FBI raided the home of an 18-year-old on August 7 and arrested the little turd for making threats against all sorts of entities, including federal authorities and Planned Parenthood, from an account on a site called “iFunny.” As username “ArmyofChrist,” he threatened everyone and drew the attention of federal authorities. It’s a good thing they acted, too; when they got to this kid’s house, they found 15 rifles, 10 semi-automatic pistols and – get this – 10,000 rounds of ammunition. This was similar to what they found when they went to the apartment of the shooter at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater. (The kid was living in his father’s house, so the father should also be held liable to a degree…)

Think about this a minute. In a sane country, how does a teenager gather 10,000 rounds of ammunition and 25 guns without gaining police attention? How is that possible? Doesn’t the fact that he had boxes containing more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition point to a problem here? It should be automatic that, when someone buys more than a couple hundred rounds of ammunition, they are visited by local authorities and put on notice that they are being watched. The only reason the FBI decided to act on this little asshole (I never use names, sorry – I don’t want to give these people more attention) and arrest him was because they wanted to cover their asses after blowing it in El Paso and Dayton.

We need to make sure all guns are registered, that all users are trained and licensed and that everyone with a gun carry insurance, as a way of demonstrating personal responsibility. There should also be a database in which purchases of ammunition are tracked, since it’s usually not the guns that are used to kill people, but the bullets. It should be assumed that anyone who collects thousands of rounds of ammunition is probably planning something because it makes sense. You don’t use 10,000 bullets to go duck hunting.

Another great sign that changes are coming came with a decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that the state of Maryland’s ban on 45 different types of assault weapons was legal and constitutional, as was its 10-round limit on gun magazines. In their 10-4 “en ban” ruling, the court said the guns that are banned in Maryland are not protected by the Second Amendment.

Writing for the Court, Judge Robert King wrote that, “Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war.” He also cited “DC v. Heller” in saying that SCOTUS had specifically excluded that sort of coverage.

What this means is, there is absolutely nothing in the law that prohibits government at any level from enacting a ban on weapons of war for civilians. This makes sense; there is nothing in the Constitution that guarantees regular citizens the right to carry any type of weapon they wish and use it at will, which is pretty much what the gunloons demand with their ridiculous interpretation of the Second Amendment. In fact, Article I specifically gives Congress/the government the power to regulate the militia, which means they get to regulate guns, since your right to bear arms is directly related to your militias service.

The Fourth Circuit’s opinion is important and it’s game-changing. For one thing, it was an “en ban” decision, which means all judges participated in the decision, and only one judge saw fit to issue a dissent. The NRA also, predictably, dismissed the decision and claimed (wrongly, of course) that the Court had ignored the Supreme Court’s guidance from DC v Heller. They also made the predictable argument that the AR-15 deserves special protection because it’s one of the most popular guns in the country.

The bottom line on all of this is, the courts allowed the Assault Weapons ban to stand in 1994, and this year, they have upheld Maryland’s assault weapons ban. That means we can continue to take reasonable measures to prevent gun violence and elect the courts to have our backs. There is no longer an excuse for doing nothing.

Also published on Medium.


No Longer Are There Excuses for Doing Nothing About Guns — 1 Comment

  1. Not only the Parkland effect — which was significant and is still vibrant — but victims families, showing up at those testimonies during state legislative sessions all over this country, year after year. Right after the Aurora Theater shooting in 2013, and because Colorado had Democratic majorities on both sides of its state legislature, we were able to pass significant gun safety bills: background checks, limiting magazine capacity and couple of others. Unfortunately, it was not without a price. There were legislators that were threatened during the session and had to be escorted to their cars by law enforcement. Then, the republicans and the gun lobby (here in Colorado, it’s the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners) launched a truly ugly recall effort against two Democratic legislators. Angela Giron from Pueblo and John Morse from Colorado Springs. I live in Boulder County, but went down to work against the recall efforts, knocking on doors trying to convince people to vote against the recall. Because I was carrying a clipboard, I had gun nuts screaming at me from their porches. It was truly scary. Plus there was shady business about the polling centers for folks to vote, etc. And it was very difficult to get folks interested in working against the recall. And the recall won. We lost Giron and Morse, which meant we lost our majority on the senate side. And the folks the republicans replaced them with were truly terrible, one of whom Bernie Herpin (look him up sometime), didn’t even last a full term. The next time I testified in support of gun safety there were a ton of RMGO members at the hearing. Again, truly scary.

    Then something changed. Session before last I testified in support of the Zachary Parrish Red Flag Bill. The bill didn’t pass that time because of the republican senate. But the crowd at the hearing was completely different. I counted perhaps 9 RMGO members, but the room was packed to capacity with lots and lots of red t shirts — Moms Demand Action. It was an empowering as well as fear-abating sight to see!

    But I want to go back to the victims’ families. Every year since Columbine there has been Tom Mauser, who lost his son at Columbine, or the sister of the school psychologist from Sandy Hook or Tom Sullivan, who lost his son at the Aurora Theater massacre. Every year, no matter what our majorities looked like or the chances of the bill passing, those families showed up. Reliving that awful night or phone call. And maybe worse, they would face unbelievably insensitive testimony from the gun nuts. If anything convinces you that they are the lowest of the low, it’s listening to that horseshit in front of the real heroes in this crisis. Or, the republican members of committee who would be looking at their phones instead of listening to and respecting the most heartbreaking testimony a person should ever have to — repeatedly — give.

    And about Tom Sullivan. He ran for Senate District 27 in 2016, but did not prevail. And he continued to show up for gun safety bill testimony. In fact, the first time I met him was when he was standing in line to sign up to speak. Tom ran again last fall, but this time he won the state rep seat for House District 37 — by 10 points. They ran the Red Flag bill again, this time Tom sponsored it, wearing his son’s jacket. The law went into effect this month. And the dunderhead republicans tried to recall Tom, saying he’d lied about what he was going to do as a legislator. One thing about Tom, you ALWAYS know where he stands. This was no secret. Even the republican he beat in his race, Cole Wist, was against the recall. So the public got behind Tom, and the republicans withdrew their effort before it had even started.