Senate Dems: This is a perfect time to take up gun control again
posted at 6:21 pm on June 13, 2016 by Ed Morrissey
Everyone knew this was coming from the moment that news broke about the shooting in Orlando. Rather than deal with another example of radical Islamist terror and the failure of our security systems to prevent an attack — even with clear danger signs from Omar Mateen — the focus for the media would fall on the weapon. The usual activists in the Senate Democratic caucus plan to make another push for gun control as early as tomorrow, including a possible return of the so-called “assault weapons” ban:
Leading U.S. Senate Democrats on Monday urged quick passage of legislation defeated last year to impose additional gun controls in the wake of the weekend mass shooting in Florida.
Four Democratic senators, led by Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, called for immediate passage of a bill preventing people on “terror watch lists” and other “suspected terrorists” from buying firearms or explosives. …
Joining Schumer in calling for passage of the legislation are Senators Dianne Feinstein of California, Bill Nelson of Florida and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
These attempts to hijack events usually produce proposals that neither address the specific situation that prompts them, nor offers a workable solution. The last round of nonsense also included a demand that anyone on the terror watch list get denied the ability to purchase weapons — even though there is no due process involved on the watch lists, and the people on them rarely discover their status ahead of time.
The no-fly list does bar people from traveling by plane and working at airports, but neither of those are constitutional rights. In order to make this stick, Congress would have to classify suspicion as a conviction, turning 240 years of American rule by law on its head. That was precisely why the last attempt to use the poorly maintained watch lists for denial of Second Amendment rights flopped — because even its advocates couldn’t explain the rationale for denial of constitutional rights merely on the basis of bureaucratic whim.
Given the nature of the target selection for this attack, it’s no surprise that another effort leverages hate crime as a red flag instead:
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said Monday he is introducing legislation to block individuals convicted of committing a hate crime from owning a gun.
“If you have proven you will commit criminal acts based on hate, you absolutely should not have access to a gun. It’s common sense,” he said during a press conference. “It is time we as members of Congress do something.”
At least this includes the due process of distinguishing eligibility based on a trial and conviction. Generally speaking, though, citizens do not lose their civil rights on the basis of misdemeanor convictions, which is the threshold Casey proposes in this bill. Even more disturbing is the attempt to criminalize sellers on the basis of reasonable suspicion:
The legislation would ban someone convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime or who received a “hate crime sentence enhancement” from buying or owning a gun. It would also make it illegal to sell a gun to someone “reasonably suspected” of being guilty of committing a misdemeanor hate crime.
Say what? Federally licensed firearms sellers are already required to run background checks to determine whether a buyer has felony convictions or other bars on owning a weapon. Exactly how are they supposed to determine whether it’s reasonable to suspect them of misdemeanor hate crimes outside of a background check? That’s an impossible standard to impose, and one that doesn’t at all address what happened in Orlando — or San Bernardino or Fort Hood, for that matter.
Enforcement of that provision should provide endless vicious circles, too. What happens when a gun seller “reasonably suspected” a buyer of having committed a hate crime because, oh, the buyer has a Muslim name? Imagine the fun courts will have in untangling these Gordian knots.
None of this addresses the actual root causes of these three attacks and more, which are radical Islam and the continued existence of ISIS as an inspiration for its spread. Disarming Americans won’t solve those issues, but it will keep many from being able to have a chance to defend themselves until those issues get addressed.