You’re right. We don’t have discussions about gun violence. A discussion implies a back-and-forth between two sides. We certainly don’t have that.
We rarely hear from both sides. Depending on you we watch, we see one side or the other.
We seldom receive news reports free of bias. Editorials are one thing, and opinions are valuable, but they aren’t expected to be reportage.
Facts and context have been missing from the so-called discussions since long before Barack Obama became President. Despite the fact the U.S. homicide rate dropped to a 57-year low in 2014, right after the end of perhaps the largest gun-buying spree in our history, most Americans believed there was more violence.
The media faithfully report that research is banned. That wasn’t true when the Dickey Amendment was enacted and it’s not true now. Very little coverage was given to studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Rand Corporation. Both studies said that data was inconclusive as to whether gun control laws had a significant impact on crime. The Dickey Amendment only banned the use of federal funds for advocacy studies. There was never a prohibition on the studies themselves, advocacy or not, researchers were simply required to find other sources of funding. This was just as true for pro-gun research as it was for anti-gun research.
The Trump presidency, as deficient as it is in many other regards, has not hampered the discussion of firearms. What is frustrating for some is that legislators have not toed the demanded line, but that’s not an abdication of their duty. It is a completely legitimate response to oppose legislation that wouldn’t deliver the promised results.
The author cited the Parkland shooting. The problem with laying the blame on a gun, a gun store, or the law is that none of these enabled Nikolas Cruz to carry out his attack. Had it not been for school district policies and a failure to act by a federal agency, it’s quite possible Cruz would have been either in jail or in prison on February 14 instead of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.
The Broward County School District and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office had a diversion policy that prevented law enforcement officers from arresting Cruz and charging him with crimes ranging up to felonies that would had barred him from legally possessing a firearm for the rest of his life. Even had he received a probated sentence, the prohibition would have applied.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation received two tips that Cruz was planning a violent act. The agency did nothing with either one, failing even to forward the information to its Miami office or the BCSO. As a result, no one investigated.
The background check system worked perfectly. There was no negative information, so the NICS allowed the sale to proceed — as required by federal law. Sunrise Tactical made the sale of the Smith & Wesson M&P-15 in complete compliance with both federal and Florida laws. Cruz was able to make seven more purchases, including one of an AK-47-style rifle.
The situation was aggravated by the failure of Deputy Scott Peterson, who disobeyed BCSO policy of engagement and remained outside of the school. Peterson became an embarrassment to lawmen everywhere. The March for Our Lives gang dismissed Peterson’s dereliction because Cruz had a rifle. That’s not how it works; when one pins on the badge, one swears to do their duty regardless of the type of weapon that might be confronted.
On May 18, Demetrios Pagourtzis opened fire in the art room of Santa Fe High School. Officers John Barnes and Gary Forward were on the scene within four minutes of the beginning of the shooting. Pagourtzis was armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, which is even more devastating at close range than an AR-15. The officers didn’t hesitate. Despite Officer Barnes taking a direct shotgun blast that put him in the hospital for 33 days and will require long-term rehabilitation, Officer Forward returned fire, wounding Pagourtzis and making the arrest.
It’s amazing how Parkland keep being brought up and Santa Fe is rarely mentioned. I realize that the Santa Fe incident occurred after the original article, but it’s a good example of the failure to have a real discussion.
Santa Fe didn’t fit the proper mold. The killer didn’t use an assault rifle, didn’t telegraph his intentions and and armed response was both rapid and vigorous. In the aftermath, though both the Brady Campaign and Everytown for Gun Safety deployed teams to the area, there was no outcry for gun control. When Governor Greg Abbot held a series of meetings, only Texas residents and representatives of Texas-based groups were invited. There was one representative from a gun-control advocacy group; another from a Texas-based gun rights group.
Two legislative actions on gun control were proposed. The first, raising the age of parental responsibility to cover persons under the age of 18 from the current 17, a “loophole” that allowed Demetrios Pagourtzis’ parents to escape being charged with negligence. That has a reasonable chance. The other was to enact “red flag” laws. This has almost no chance of being enacted; it may not even be introduced. Both Governor Abbot and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who chairs the Senate believe that such laws violate the Fifth Amendment right to due process.
Bet you didn’t see that on the news.
If the author really wants a discussion, Donald Trump isn’t much of an excuse. But it has to be a two-way street with each side given an equal opportunity to present its views and supporting evidence.