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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 10/10/2002 3:36:52 AM EDT
Here is a sample of what is fed to the masses. The Washington Post Thursday, October 10, 2002; Page A33 False Choices On Gun Safety by Jonathan Cowan http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3738-2002Oct9.html A sniper has taken aim, spreading death and fear in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Yet despite this terror campaign, there is no movement from Congress or the administration for tougher gun safety laws. This is in sharp contrast to the congressional response to the 1999 Columbine shootings, which led to an immediate Senate vote to require background checks for purchasers at gun shows. Why the difference, and what does it say about the future of gun safety in America? Unfortunately, after the 2000 elections, most Democrats concluded that calling for new gun laws could cost them critical white male votes. Meanwhile, the Bush White House sought to extend its balancing act on guns, taking specific steps to please the gun lobby but publicly maintaining support for limited new gun safety measures to preserve its "compassionate conservative" identity. Thus the bipartisan consensus on guns: Back a narrow agenda that emphasizes the protection of gun rights and tougher enforcement of existing laws, rather than the need for new gun laws. While such an approach may seem to make political sense, it represents an abdication of a critical responsibility of the national government: public safety. Moreover, it offers voters a false choice on two counts -- gun rights or gun safety, and new gun laws or tougher enforcement. America can protect gun rights and promote gun responsibility only with new laws and vigorous enforcement of existing laws. With more than 500,000 gun-related crimes each year, America cannot focus exclusively on punishing people once they commit gun-related crimes. It must also attempt to stop guns from falling into the wrong hands in the first place -- which means breaking up the black market in illegal guns. According to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), this market -- a chain of crooked dealers and petty street traffickers -- supplies most of the guns used in crime. Congress and the Bush administration must design a real national strategy aimed at waging a war against this mostly American illegal gun cartel. A comprehensive national gun-trafficking strategy would have three components: (1) A federal enforcement effort focused not just on punishing criminals after the fact -- the thrust of the administration's worthy but one-sided Project Safe Neighborhoods -- but also on busting up the chain of illegal guns, from manufacturers to dealers to street merchants. The president ought to create a fully staffed and funded national gun-trafficking task force, similar to the corporate fraud effort launched months ago. (2) New federal enforcement tools that would beef up the ability of ATF to crack down on gun trafficking, including more tracing of crime guns and ballistics fingerprinting to link slugs and casings to the owners of the guns that fired them. Despite the bipartisan calls for tough enforcement, ATF is hamstrung by laws -- such as the one limiting unannounced inspections of gun dealers to one a year -- that appear to be intended to make it difficult to punish those at the top of the gun-trafficking chain. (3) Legislation to close the most glaring loopholes in federal law. This would include requiring background checks at all gun shows for all gun sales and fixing the deeply flawed background check system -- a system that has allowed thousands of criminals to obtain guns because they were among the 35 million prohibited buyers whose names were not yet in an instant-check database. During the 2000 campaign, candidate George W. Bush supported some version of these measures, and gun rights and gun safety supporters such as Sens. John McCain, Chuck Schumer, Joe Lieberman and Larry Craig and Reps. Carolyn McCarthy and John Dingell have bipartisan bills to do exactly this. Compromise in closing these dangerous loopholes ought to be achievable. Opponents will say that new gun laws -- or vigorous enforcement of existing laws -- violate gun rights. But America has passed six major federal gun laws since the 1930s, and the number of guns in private hands has quintupled. They will say that gun laws don't work, but the Brady law has already stopped 700,000 prohibited buyers from purchasing guns. They will say that guns don't kill, people do -- and they are right -- but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to keep guns out of the hands of people who are most likely to commit a crime or kill with a gun. The country deserves a war on illegal guns, not empty rhetoric about tough enforcement and silence in the face of senseless shootings. Such a war may not have saved the lives lost in the Washington area during the past week, but it will save others -- without taking away the guns or diminishing the gun rights of a single law-abiding American. The writer is president of Americans for Gun Safety.
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