“What happened in Texas and Ohio was horrifying and heartbreaking. There are steps we can take to address this kind of violence, and it’s important that we seriously address these issues.” — Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
As reported in the Gazette-Mail, Sen. Capito’s Charleston office recently was the site of protestors asking her to help enact “sensible gun safety legislation.” Prayers and saying its “horrifying and heartbreaking” are just not enough, Senator. Neither is saying, as many of your colleagues always do, that it’s not the time because we are once again grieving for the latest gun massacre victims. Senator, now is the time to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., if you sincerely want to “seriously address these issues.”
The GOP leadership’s short-term gun strategy is so simple as to be obvious. Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump will say they are coming up with legislation such as expanded background checks, but then have Mitch steadfastly refuse to take action, hoping that the passion for reform will die down.
As September winds on, both will say that they haven’t been able to reach any common ground internally within the GOP. Further, they will state that many GOP senators were told by their constituents that existing gun control laws are sufficient. They just need to be enforced; you can’t do anything about crazy folks except arm everyone and so on. In other words, all the usual ridiculous but effective NRA talking points.
Since there is no internal agreement within the ranks of the GOP, McConnell will then state that he will not bring up any gun control legislation in the GOP-controlled Senate. Meanwhile, McConnell the “Grim Reaper,” will continue to block all Democratic gun control bills passed by the House from being considered because they fail the selectively applied test of being “non-partisan.”
U.S. firearm deaths per capita are much higher than any other democracy. I own guns, but I support reasonable gun control. Many other gun owners do as well. Here is a partial list of measures which should already be under consideration by McConnell’s Senate if they were serious, which they clearly are not:
n Thorough background checks are needed, including doing away with automatic approval after three days.
n Database funding must increase; we must know exactly who has which guns and who must be prohibited from owning them.
n Gun show sales, except by licensed dealers, must be prohibited.
n We must tighten regulations on gun dealers.
n Raising the minimum age to 21 for firearm purchases is necessary.
n Stopping interstate shipment of weapons to individuals via mail is needed.
n Red-flag laws are needed to remove guns from individuals who pose a risk of harming others.
n Funding increases for mental health services on the community, state and federal levels are needed for prevention.
n Increased taxes on guns and ammunition are necessary both to pay for enforcement and to discourage amassing of large quantities of weapons.
n Tightening concealed carry restrictions is needed. If someone cannot carry a gun into a state legislature, why should they be able to take that gun into a state university lecture hall?
n First-time gun owners should be required to attend gun safety classes.
n Assault weapons must be banned. Buybacks should be funded by the federal government to specifically encourage the return of semi-automatic weapons.
n Research regarding gun death prevention must be funded by the federal government. The Dickey Amendment, prohibiting the CDC from gun control research, must be repealed.
n Increased security at schools and other targets of mass shooters is necessary.
n High-capacity magazines must be prohibited.
n There must be gun storage mandates: unloaded, disassembled, or trigger locked, and securely stored. Parents must be responsible for locking up their guns, with severe penalties if they are misused by minors.
McConnell is clearly the most important person in Washington. He has been since the last administration, blocking Obama from passing many needed laws for the last six years of his administration.
Gun control obstruction will continue until he no longer controls the Senate. That may well be 2020, but only if voters who care about excessive USA gun deaths finally wake up.