Political games over gun reform

Rand Paul of Kentucky and 13 other GOP senators are proudly promising to block a vote on gun control. They are, they say with flag-wrapped sincerity, willing to take the extreme step of a filibuster to avoid the trampling of Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

It appears the Senate will have enough votes to override the filibuster on at least some bills as early as today, but the effort to prevent debate on an issue of such national importance should anger voters.

Gun violence — from massacres like those in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., to street shootings to suicides — are a U.S. tragedy. Congress cannot solve the problem, but with narrow, data-based legislation it may be able to help.

Not every gun reform makes sense, which is why debate is important.

The filibuster threat from Paul, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and others, is based on a disingenuous reading of the U.S. Constitution.

The Second Amendment is not a masterpiece of draftsmanship, but it clearly does not provide an unbridled right to weapons that did not even exist in 1787, when the amendment passed:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

It is the only amendment which states its purpose, which is limited to the 18th Century necessity of a civilian militia. It specifically states that the militia should be “well regulated,” a relevant caveat when the issue is the regulation of guns.

The Second Amendment cannot be ignored, and courts have consistently given it legal significance. Numerous municipal efforts to limit handguns have been struck down as unconstitutional.

Yet Paul and the others do not limit their filibuster threat to restrictions that arguably violate the Second Amendment. In a letter to the Senate majority leader, they promised to block “any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions.”

Almost none of the restrictions the Senate is considering have Second Amendment implications. Do the 14 senators claim the Constitution somehow prohibits an expansion of background checks to gun shows, so it is harder for the mentally ill and convicted felons to get guns? That it requires that every gun owner have access to ammunition clips that hold more than 15 rounds? Which of these provisions do they claim violates the Second Amendment?

Not all gun controls are wise. Not all pass constitutional muster. By trying to prevent a vote in the Senate, however, the 14 senators are playing a game that does not do justice to the seriousness of the issue. Too many people have died from gun violence. Too many families are suffering ongoing grief.

No laws will completely solve the problem, but Americans deserve a good-faith debate over whether some legislation can help.

The 14 senators are playing politics and courting gun manufacturers. Pretending they are protecting the U.S. Constitution is an insult to the many Americans — including gun owners — who are seeking responsible solutions.

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6 Comments

Filed under Gun control

6 responses to “Political games over gun reform

  1. DKL

    Yep, you have it. Gun control, like other hot button topics, is an applause line for the GOP. Somehow the fact that gun control is a complicated issue makes a sound bite even more appealing and acceptable. Shame, shame.

  2. The Oracle

    Look Eric, we all know that the democrats would outlaw guns if they could. When their latest misguided laws fail to curb the violence, they will be back to put more laws on the books that do nothing to stop criminals, but
    hurt the law abiding citizens. The cycle then repeats. Look, I don’t trust people who think like you, I don’t trust the democrat/marxist party, I don’t trust the republican/democrat lite party, and I certainly don’t trust that meathead president of yours. My firearms insure my other rights as a law abiding, tax paying citizen. As such, I will NEVER register my firearms. I will NEVER surrender my firearms to the corrupt national government. I will buy all my future firearm purchases from private citizens (rendering your background check law toothless if it’s passed). Don’t like my AR-15s? You will have to file it under “T” for tough. Nothing you, or the Marxists can do about it. MOLON LABE!

    • mile304

      I’ll grant you this: Your argument for gun control is far more persuasive than mine.

      • The Oracle

        Lets see….I’m self employed, pay my taxes, never have committed a felony, and lead a normal, upper middle class lifestyle. What about that makes you want to curb my 2nd amendment rights? Afterall, my guns have killed less people than the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s car. MOLON LABE!

  3. The Oracle

    Hey Eric, I was reading another news website, about the murder trial of “Doctor” Kermit Gosnell (the now infamous abortion doctor charged with eight counts of murder) up in Philadelphia. I then did an article search on the Daily’s website to see if the Decatur Daily had at least run an AP account of the story. Not one mention whatsoever. My question then is….Is it only news, to the Daily or the mainstream liberal media in general, when kids are killed with guns (like at Sandy Hook) rather than a psychopathic abortion “doctor”? Care to explain?

    • mile304

      We don’t have any reporters in Philadelphia, so we rely on AP coverage. I’m not sure how carefully AP has followed the case. Anyone who knows those on our copy desk, which selects wire copy, is unlikely to accuse them of liberal bias. Personally, I oppose abortion. I am uncomfortable with Roe v. Wade, but I would probably be uncomfortable with any effort to make the impossible balance between unborn child and mother. The message I take from the hideous Gosnell case is that abortions are going to happen; the biology is such that prohibitions are difficult to enforce. At least until Roe is overturned, I think the state needs to regulate first-trimester abortions without driving them underground. It also should do as Pennsylvania did and prosecute those who violate constitutional laws limiting abortion. Helping infants of poor mothers with the same enthusiasm with which we condemn abortion probably would help, too.

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