By Jeff Knox
(October 12, 2016) Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party have declared war on “the NRA,” meaning all gun owners. The truth is a frequent casualty in their war, as they inflate statistics, make false associations, and offer up simplistic “solutions” that seem reasonable, but actually can’t possibly accomplish anything positive, while they do real harm to innocent people who have done nothing wrong and are not part of the problem.
Those of us who have been involved in the fight to protect the Bill of Rights for years, and those who have studied the history of the fight, have seen all of this before. Bitter experience has proven that when gun owners agreed with what seemed like reasonable restrictions on their rights, the problems that were supposed to be solved only got worse and gun owners were vilified for pointing the facs out.
Right now, the “reasonable” gun control proposals from Hillary Clinton, Mike Bloomberg, and other Democrats – like Arizona Senate candidate Anne Kirkpatrick – revolve around expanding “background checks,” blocking terrorist access to firearms, ending firearm industry liability protections, and reinstatement of the 1994 “assault weapons” ban. All are tailored to sound reasonable, but none of the proposals would accomplish their stated objectives, and would instead place innocent, responsible gun owners at risk, and dilute and degrade rights.
The Lie: There is an epidemic of mass murder and gun-violence in this country. We are often told that the U.S. is the “only developed nation” with such a horrendous “gun-violence” problem, and that our “gun violence” problem is growing and must be addressed to save innocent lives.
The Truth: Crime – including crime involving firearms – has been steadily and precipitously dropping for the past 20 years and is currently at the lowest rates seen since the early 1960s. The U.S. ranks relatively low in overall violence statistics, though the ready availability of firearms does mean that guns are more often involved. What is missing from the statistics is the fact that the violent crime numbers from a handful of neighborhoods in a handful of Democratic Party-controlled cities with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation distort the national statistics. Exclude those cities from the data, the U.S. has some of the lowest crime numbers in the world.
One of the other most frequently cited statistics is a claim that some 30,000 Americans die each year as a result of “gun-violence.” This is not so much a lie as it is a massive distortion. Only about 8,000 of those “firearm deaths” are acts of criminal violence. Most are suicides, but the statistic also includes justified shootings by police and armed citizens. And while 8,000 is too many, it is a very low percentage in a population of over 320 million. Again, these murders predominantly occur in just a few major city neighborhoods, and are most often connected to illegal drugs and street gangs.
More Lies: Terrorists and mass murderers are able to buy guns and “automatic weapons” at gun shows and online, with no background checks. Every time there is some atrocity committed with firearms, this argument that we need “universal background checks” is trotted out as if passing this legislation would have prevented the latest horror.
The Truth: There has not been a single mass murder or terrorist attack that would have been stopped or mitigated by this proposal. The only instances where the perpetrator did not pass a background check were those involving minors who gained access to a parent or other relative’s guns – which had been legally purchased after a background check, and often were securely stored. In the case of the Sandy Hook murderer, the primary weapon was purchased under a tighter “assault weapon” ban than the Clinton Ban, and he murdered his mother to gain access to it.
And More Lies: Clinton and company tell us that the firearms industry is virtually unregulated and is exempted from liability lawsuits for the harm caused by their products. Hillary Clinton has made repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act one of her major campaign issues.
The Truth: The firearms industry is one of the most tightly regulated in the country. Firearms may only be bought or sold in face-to-face transactions. No mail-order or internet sales. Every firearm must be marked with a serial number, and must be accounted for. Guns can only be made for sale by licensed manufacturers, and imported and sold by licensed importers, distributors, and dealers, with records of every dealer transaction maintained in perpetuity. The reason the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was introduced was because anti-rights politicians were using taxpayer funds to sue gun dealers and manufacturers for criminal misuse of guns that functioned as designed. This is akin to Ford or Chevy being sued because their vehicles were used in hit-and-runs or as getaway cars in bank robberies. The cases were generally dismissed by the judges and juries who heard them, but the litigation costs were bankrupting gun dealers and manufacturers. Under the PLCA, gun manufacturers remain liable for faulty guns that malfunction. PLCA only shields manufacturers from politically motivated lawsuits.
So-called “universal background checks” would have no impact on crime, but would make criminals of innocent gun owners while creating a de facto firearm registration system. Currently, all private transfers must be conducted face-to-face between residents of the same, or for some guns, contiguous states. It is illegal for a prohibited person to buy a firearm or ammunition, or for anyone to sell them a gun or ammo if they know or have reason to believe they are prohibited from possessing firearms. Laws prohibiting a trade of cash for a gun are as doomed to failure as laws that prohibit a trade of cash for drugs.
As to the so-called “terror gap,” it is a fiction and a constitutional nightmare. The Terrorism Watch List is a secret. No one knows someone gets on the list or is taken off of it. With some politicians and Homeland Security officials suggesting that NRA membership should be a reason for adding someone to the list, it is small wonder that gun owners are skeptical at the idea of suspending Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights on the basis of inclusion on the secret list.
No issue is ever as simple and straightforward as proponents and opponents try and make it seem, but when proponents must resort to lies and distortion to make their case, it’s a pretty safe bet that neither the proposal nor the results will match their rhetoric either.