With so many mass shootings in this country — including recent ones at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado and in San Bernardino — and with overwhelming public support for tightening gun laws (e.g., 77%-18% support banning those on the U.S. government’s terrorist watch list from purchasing guns; 92%-7% favor background checks on all potential gun buyers; 70%-28% favor establishing a federal government database to track all gun sales; 57%-40% support a ban on assault-style weapons; etc.), you’d think that our elected officials would be taking action along these lines.
But noooo. Instead, what we’re seeing are stories like Gun rights? Try gun pride: GOP candidates display firearms machismo and Why mass shootings don’t convince gun owners to support gun control and Senate blocks effort to keep guns from terrorists. It’s almost beyond comprehension, yet here we are, with “Republican politics hav[ing] hardened from gun rights to gun pride, as candidates embrace and show off the more militaristic features of weaponry.” It’s beyond appalling.
The craziness is not just at the federal level, sad to say. Here in Virginia, for instance, Del. Mark Cole (R-Spotsylvania/Stafford; 100% rating from the extremist Virginia Citizens Defense League; introduced a bill in late November to codify the Supreme Court’s DC v. Heller opinion regarding an individual’s right to bear arms. There are just a few major problems with Cole’s bill.
First, it’s the exact wrong way to go, both in terms of sound public policy and also with regard to what the public actually wants its legislators to be doing. Second, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decisions in recent years on gun rights have been, like many of this right-wing/activist court’s decisions, a radical, extreme departure from many decades/centuries of prior case law. Third, and on a somewhat lighter note, what Del. Cole apparently does not realize is that the Heller case only dealt with the right to bear arms in “federal enclaves” such as Washington, D.C. — NOT in states like Virginia. Of course, the Supreme Court a few years later extended the individual right to bear arms to the states in McDonald v Chicago, but that is NOT the case Del. Cole is trying to codify.