During the past week or so high drama took place during the Lame Duck Session of the Illinois General Assembly, which culminated with its demise in the Illinois House when the Judiciary committee declined to vote on amendments to Senate Bill 2899, which would have turned the bill into a complete ban on semiautomatic firearms and magazines exceeding 10 round capacity.
But while Senate Bill 2899 has been pulled from consideration for the time being here in Illinois (the fight will begin again in the new 98th General Assembly), the push for tighter gun restrictions has advanced to the federal level. On the national level, Congress introduced bills on the first day of the new Congress, bills that are sure to set up a long and contentious fight over the shape of this nation's gun laws. There is more to come.
It is thought that President is likely to introduce his plan on January 15 with guidance from Vice President Biden, who was chosen by Obama to lead the administration's effort. For one senator, Dianne Feinstein (Calif. - D), gun control has been a consuming passion during her entire senate tenure, even though her assault weapons ban in place during the decade of the 90's didn't stop gun violence and killings. Biden has been holding meetings with various advocacy groups, for and against, as well as representatives from the entertainment and video games industry, and large sellers of firearms like Walmart, Dick's Sporting Goods and Bass Pro Shops. Based on comments by the Vice President, these meetings are largely for show, since the Obama administration is determined to ban so-called assault weapons without addressing issues directly related to gun violence. Such bans affect millions of law-abiding citizens while having little effect on the criminals who perpetrate this violence.
Over 500 murders in Chicago during 2012, which has the strictest gun control laws in the nation, show gun bans don't work. Most shootings are gang related, prompted by disputes over drug sales, or simply revenge for real or perceived "disrespect." This is a sub theme in the movie "Grand Canyon," where the protagonist is confronted by a group of thugs, when the leader says, "You only respect me because of the gun."
According to the FBI annual crime statistics from 2005 to 2011, the number of murders committed annually with hammers and clubs far outnumbers the number of murders committed with a rifle. There has even been those who compare the fact that both knives and guns can kill and that knives should be banned next. Might they be asked if they'd rather defend themselves with a knife or with a gun!
While the media has conveniently focused with its undivided attention on the banning of assault weapons by capitalizing on the emotional impact the Newtown elementary school shootings have had upon the American people, slipping under the radar are gun-related issues that are part of Obama's grand scheme for gun control, including the so-called "Gun Show Loophole."
Face to face (FTF) sales of firearms, which constitute approximately 40% of gun sales, do not presently require and an NICS background check. That applies only to transactions though Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders, which would include retail stores. It's a mistake to call these "illegal" sales, as does Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, because they are perfectly legal. In fact, most gun shows in Illinois and elsewhere employ a team of FFL holders (including most of the dealers at the shows) to conduct background checks and the federal paperwork known as Form 4473. Some may wink at the rules, but they'll be tossed out if caught and banned from future shows. In fact, only about 2% of guns used in crimes were purchased at gun shows, representing a vanishingly small fraction of the millions of guns sold in this manner. The administration is seeking support for closing this so-called loophole from retailers, who stand to gain financially if this significant area of competition can be shut down.
The real reason the gun-grabbers want to close the "loophole" is because there's no way background checks can be performed by private individuals, hence this requirement would make FTF sales illegal. The obvious solution, if one is actually needed, is to allow private individuals to call for an NICS check, for example, using a credit card. You can already get the 4473 forms on the Internet. The fact is, those complaining about the lack of background checks have no intention of instituting them. It's more convenient to ask for the impossible.
Some question why people on the "Terror Watch List" are not kept from purchasing guns. This is not a valid criteria, because no one can say how someone gets on that list, much less how you would get off once so designated. The List is a secret process based on opinions, not subject to legal challenge. Using the "Terror Watch List" in this fashion would allow the Attorney General, among others, to arbitrarily deny firearms to individuals without recourse.That's why it should not be a disqualifier. Felony convictions, felony indictments, dishonorable discharges and other current disqualifiers are matters of public record. So are adjudicated commitments for mental illness, but political correctness often seals those records (e.g., Loughner in Tucson, James Holms in Aurora and Seung-Hi Cho at Virginia Tech), and makes it difficult to achieve such a commitment in the first place (e.g., Adam Lanza in Newtown, CT).
There are other example of gun control through requirements which can never be met. For years, following passage of the National Firearms Act in 1934, it was necessary to buy a $200 tax stamp to purchase or possess a machine gun, but no stamps were printed until the 1980's.
Retired police officers are allowed, by Federal law, to carry concealed weapons for their own protection, if they pass the necessary qualification tests. Chicago refuses to give these tests, so retired officers have to move out of the city to qualify. When's the last time you heard about biometric gun locks that would only work for the owner. Several companies made that technology available in the late 70's. Once that happened, nobody cared any more.
A common statement by politicians these day is that we have to do something, anything, (whether it works or not) to halt the rash of massacres like in Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT. In fact, these incidents have been reported since the early 1800's, but only since the advent of 24/7 cable news has each incident deluged the airwaves for weeks on end. There were twice as many (49) such incidents in the decade 1990-2000 as from 2000-2010 (26), and the 90's were down from the previous decade, which saw 63 mass murders.
None of these incidents would have been prevented or even mitigated by any of the gun control measures being proposed. In fact, Columbine happened in the middle of the 1994 AWB ban, and didn't involve "assault weapons" of any sort. None of Chicago's 506 homicides in 2012 involved an "assault rifle", nor a single legally purchased or carried firearm.
So we see that an underlying strategy of the Obama administration is to "ask for the impossible" in a very literal sense.
Rather than firearms, we should keep typewriters, microphones and TV cameras out of the hands of the most dangerous people in our society. At least that's building on what Samuel Clemens suggested while writing as Mark Twain.