At a campaign event in Iowa today that focused on rural policy, Hillary Clinton had one thing to say about the horrific shooting in Moneta, Virginia earlier this morning, which left reporter 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and her 27-year-old videographer, Alex Ward, dead. Ex-employee Vester Lee Flanagan murdered Parker and Ward on live television. He eventually committed suicide, but not before sending an eerie fax to ABC News that turned out to be his manifesto/suicide note. He claimed that the Charleston Church shooting in South Carolina is what put him “over the top.”
After offering condolences to the families of the victims, Clinton said, “We have got to do something about gun violence in America.” “And I will take it on,” she added, noting the treacherous political waters that come with this issue.
“I believe we are smart enough. We are compassionate enough to figure out how to balance the legitimate Second Amendment rights with preventative measures and control measures so that whatever motivated this murderer, who eventually took his own life, we will not see more deaths–needless, senseless deaths,” she added.
The former first lady then read off the typical talking points about gun deaths happening every day, whether those incidents are intentional, unintentional, or related to suicides.
“There is so much evidence that if guns were not so readily available; if we had universal background checks; if we could just put some time out between the person who’s upset because he got fired, or the domestic abuse, or whatever other motivation may be working on someone who does this–that maybe we could prevent this kind of carnage.”
First, all dealers with a federal firearms license (FFL) are mandated by law to conduct background checks on all purchases. Second, it’s not a full-proof solution, as Dylann Roof, the Charleston Church shooter in South Carolina, was able to pass a background check, obtain a firearm, and engage in a senseless act of violence, despite a pending narcotics charge, which left nine people dead. The FBI admitted that a clerical error had not added Roof’s pending drug charge into the National Instant Background Check System (NICS). If this had been done, the awful incident could have been avoided. The government (yet again) failed, and FBI Director James Comey admitted to shortfalls in the Roof case. Also, none of Obama's gun control measures he advocated post-Newtown would have prevented Roof from engaging in mass murder.
The “time out” portion of Clinton’s quote I’m assuming refers to waiting periods for firearms. It’s a policy initiative that has yet to provide any solid statistical data concerning its usefulness. So far, there is no evidence that waiting periods curb gun violence.
Lastly, we are not in the midst of a gun violence epidemic. The Bureau for Justice Statistics reported that gun-related homicides were down 39 percent from 1993-2011. Pew Research found that it was down 49 percent in roughly the same period. Additionally, more women are lining up for their concealed carry permits. In fact, since 2007, women and minorities are responsible for a concealed carry permit surge.
There are certainly areas where gun control groups and Second Amendment supporters can agree on, which is that the mentally ill should not possess firearms. The problem is that gun control groups–as of late–aren’t interested in curbing gun violence; they’re interested in curbing gun rights at all costs.
Given the composition of Congress, it's likely that Republicans will maintain control of the House. Things are still uncertain in the Senate, but the fact remains that gun control splits Democrats. Moreover, any gun control measure would eventually meet a legislative death in the House.