In the wake of gun massacres such as Newtown, Aurora and Tucson, it’s the responsibility of the federal government to take measures to reduce gun violence and better protect the public.
President Barack Obama has stepped up to the plate by proposing common sense gun control legislation and signing 23 executive orders. He has called for reinstating a ban on military style assault weapons, which previously passed in 1994 and expired in 2004. These killing tools aren’t suited for personal protection or hunting, and as such are unfit for civilian use. But they were used in Newtown and Aurora, with 350 people killed and 450 injured by these weapons since the ban expired.
Obama also proposed reinstating a 10-round limit on the size of ammunition magazines. Again, there is no legitimate civilian use of such a high capacity. Shooters in Newtown, Aurora and Tucson were able to kill and wound far more victims than would have been possible were such a limit in place. A ban has also been proposed for armor piercing bullets, whose only use is against law enforcement.
Background checks on gun sales, designed to prevent criminals and the mentally unstable from obtaining weapons, have prevented more than a million gun purchases over the last 14 years. But a loophole doesn’t require background checks for gun shows and private sales, which account for 40 percent of firearms sales. Obama has proposed eliminating this loophole, thereby requiring background checks for all gun sales.
Criminals frequently obtain guns through straw purchasers and from a relatively small number of corrupt gun dealers. To deal with this problem, Obama has proposed new penalties for people who help criminals get guns.
The 23 executive orders cover such matters as tightening background checks, including information sharing between federal agencies and states, and improved identification of people who shouldn’t have access to guns; preventing gun violence and prosecuting gun crimes; with 500,000 guns stolen a year, improving information on lost and stolen guns; improving gun safety; making schools safer; and increasing access to mental health services.
Obama’s proposals and executive orders offer a reasonable and sensible approach to the gun violence problem, and that makes too much sense for the National Rifle Association (NRA), which fronts for gun manufacturers and leads kneejerk opposition to any gun control proposal.
The NRA bases its opposition on the Second Amendment, falsely claiming that it created a “right to bear arms” that is virtually unlimited. But the amendment reads, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Given this wording, it should be clear that the Second Amendment allows states to keep their militias, which today is the National Guard. It has nothing to do with private ownership of guns.
In response to Newtown, the NRA proposed putting armed guards in all the schools, which would be very expensive and probably ineffective, as an armed sheriff’s deputy was unable to prevent a gun massacre at Columbine High School. In fact, no one has ever returned fire during a gun massacre. When Obama greeted this proposal with skepticism, the NRA ran an ad calling him an “elitist hypocrite” since his children have Secret Service protection. But Secret Service protection for members of a president’s family is required by law, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, called the ad “reprehensible” for stooping so low.
The NRA caters to paranoid gun nuts who want to turn the U.S. into an armed camp and threaten insurrection against the federal government when laws are enacted that they don’t like. Such sentiments are traitorous, and violate Article I, Section 8 (15), which gives Congress the power “To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.”
Most Republicans are opposed to Obama’s proposals, and leave it to the right wing extremists who control the Michigan Legislature to push a bill seeking to nullify his efforts if successful. State Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Township) introduced SB 63, the Michigan Firearms Freedom Act, which would exempt Michigan-made guns and ammunition from federal regulations.
This bill is blatantly unconstitutional, violating the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article VI (2), which states, “This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”
As it is, there are no firearms nanufacturers in Michigan and, given the bill’s unconstitutionality, none are likely to be attracted to the state. But despite these realities, last week the state Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill by a 3-1 vote.
Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a bill to reinstate the assault weapons ban and limit the size of ammunition magazines. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will begin hearings on the bill Wednesday.