Every time a mass shooting takes place, anti-gunners are quick to say we need the same so-called "solutions": universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and red flag laws. As the scene was unfolding this weekend in Midland and Odessa, Texas, anti-gunners were already pushing these ideas when we knew absolutely nothing about the shooter, how he obtained his firearms or even what types of firearms were used. In their mind it doesn't matter what the circumstances are, these three policy proposals can and will solve tragic shootings.
It was nice to see Sirius XM host David Webb go to bat with Bustle's Jessica Tarlov over gun control proposals. In typical anti-gun fashion, she spewed the same talking points: we need to ban "assault rifles," have universal background checks and implement red flag laws.
Webb brought up one very important position that gun control advocates continually fail to mention: we have a background check system, National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS), which was established under the Brady Bill. Every firearm purchase made from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) is required to go through a background check via NICS. The problem though is not every law enforcement agency reports their convictions to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which oversees NICS. People slip through the cracks when not all convictions are turned over. It's why the Fix NICS bill was something that both sides could agree on.
"We already have background checks. This guy [Texas shooter] failed a check. You can buy guns illegally so what else are they [Congress] going to do now? They could do somethings to improve the reporting of people who fail background checks. They could use technology to improve the speed at which local law enforcement gets their information into the system," Webb explained. "Those are things that don't require a law. They require innovation and technology."
Webb also mentioned that politicians are quick to say they'll act to stop future shootings but there is never any serious follow through.
"We need to improve law enforcement's ability to communicate information. That will do more. We need to also respect the Constitution and where it stands on Americans' rights so their rights are not impeded," he said.
"I think there are a few additional things we can do on top of what you mention there," Tarlov responded. "There's a bi-partisan conversation about red flag laws going on right now. The assault weapons ban seems like the most obvious place to go. Police chiefs from major cities all over the country released a letter urging-"
"These are not 'assault weapons,'" Webb interjected.
"-an AR-15?" she asked.
"No, they're not. They're single shot pull of the trigger," Webb explained.
"Police chiefs from all over the country have submitted a letter to Congress asking for the assault weapons ban, which was put into place in 1994 from the crime bill, to be put into place" Tarlov explained. "I understand there needs to be a discussion about what qualifies as an 'assault weapon' but that seems like a place people can go here-"
"But I have to correct this because this is a problem in this discussion. Most, first of all, FBI statistics, more murders are committed with less than three bullets. Three bullets. That's a fact," Webb said.
"From an AR-15?" Tarlov asked.
"If I can, because I don't know how much you know about guns, but you can do more damage reloading fast with a 9mm than, at times, depending on the situation-" Webb explained.
"I can read with the best of them," Tarlov said.
"Let me finish. The profile of a gun and how it looks does not determine the operation of one pull of the trigger, one shot," Webb explained.
"You won't deny that AR-15s are the weapon of choice for these murders. In Dayton, the police officers that responded said that many more lives would not have been lost if that weapon had not been in the shooter's hands," Tarlov responded.
"It's the shooter's fault and we're not addressing the problem," Webb said.
"Access to guns is a problem," Tarlov said bluntly.
The problem here isn't about access to firearms. The problem here is about the systems in place. The Texas shooter failed a background check previously. Although we still don't know why he failed, some news outlets, like NBC News, are speculating that it was a for a "mental health issue."
Law enforcement is failing to report convictions to NCIC. People aren't being prosecuted when they're fail background checks and lie on the 4473 background check form.
If the shooter in the case turned out to have a mental health issue and he still tried to buy a gun, it means he lied on the 4473 form. There's a section of the form the explicitly asks, "Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?” If he put "no" on that and he was deemed mentally defective, he should have been prosecuted for lying on the form, which is a felony that can result in up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Until law enforcement starts going after people who are lying and abusing the system, prohibited possessors have no reason to tell the truth.