"How would anything in the bill, as it currently stands, have stopped anything that went on in Newtown?” Crowley asked. “The majority leader has assured me and other proponents of these measures that we can offer amendments on both the assault-weapons ban and the prohibition on high-capacity magazines, so there will be both,” Blumenthal responded, adding that he intends to offer an amendment that would ban high-capacity magazines.
He's not suggesting Democrats scrap their inefficacious bill, of course; he's making the case that it must go further, thus underscoring the nasty schism opening up on the Left over guns. On one hand, you have President Obama demagoguing gun control critics as callous monsters who've "forgotten" the children of Sandy Hook. On the other, you have Harry Reid (with a lifetime 'B' rating from the NRA in his back pocket) effectively scotching Diane Feinstein's assault weapons ban because it couldn't even garner 40 votes in his Democrat-held chamber. Blumenthal says Reid is promising to allow amendment votes on whatever watered-down bill eventually emerges -- the details of which seem very much in flux. This would allow blue state Dems to vote for more stringent restrictions, but when red and purple state Democrats line up to vote against these added measures, will the president harangue them for abandoning The Children? Will the party's left-wing base move to punish their wayward members? Will Mike Bloomberg drop a few million to boost gun-grabbier primary challengers? As you give those a think, let's return to Candy Crowley's trenchant question, which Blumenthal ducked: "How would anything in the bill, as it currently stands, have stopped anything that went on in Newtown?" I'll even expand the premise to cover a bill that includes both an assault weapons ban modeled after the expired 1994 federal law and some form of high capacity magazine prohibition. It seems to me that the only honest answer to Crowley's query would still be, "absolutely nothing, Candy." Why?
(1) Background checks - The Newtown shooter stole his weapons from his mother, who bought them legally. There is no method for checking people who are determined to obtain a gun illegally. Furthermore, law enforcement already lacks the wherewithall to track down the vast majority of prospective gun buyers who flunk background checks. This isn't a Republican talking point; the Vice President has admitted as much himself.
(2) "Assault weapons" ban - Connecticut has a federal-style ban in place. The weapons used in the Sandy Hook massacre were not proscribed by that law.
(3) Magazine limits - Forcing a spree shooter to reload may provide an opening for unarmed victims to tackle him, which is how bystanders brought the Tucson horror to an end. The likelihood that defenseless, terrified little children would have the presence of mind, let alone the strength, to bull-rush a deranged gunman is essentially zero. (What a truly horrific sentence to have to write).
I've written previously that I'm far from an absolutist on gun rights. After Newtown, I indulged the natural human impulse to "do something," and still hold out hope that some successful and reasonable compromise may be forged. But piling new laws atop the current heap doesn't automatically qualify as a solution. Will proposed restrictions actually work? Are they duplicative? Are they unduly restrictive of law abiding citizens' Second Amendment rights? These questions must be seriously addressed, not glossed over by Blumenthal et al's specious and sophomoric "if it saves one life..." argument. Plenty of horrible, liberty-depriving, job-killing, unenforceable laws could conceivably save lives (banning cars, for instance, or setting a universal speed limit of 25 milies per hour). That cannot and must not be the standard, although it certainly sounds nice as a platitude on television. I'll leave you with a reminder of what happens when the "do something" mob rushes into hasty, ill-conceived action: Cuomo happens, replete with wholly unworkable prohibitions and glaring oversights -- like forgetting to exempt law enforcement officers from certain bans. This from the party that congratulates itself for being the champions of pragmatism, evidence and science.
Parting quotation, via the nation's foremost gun safety expert: "The Assault Weapons ban and the limitation on the size of magazines, let me say this as clearly as I can: this is just the beginning."
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography