In case you missed it last night, Democrats held their first presidential debate of the 2016 cycle in Las Vegas. One of the topics that got the biggest variety of responses and back and forth between candidates on stage was the issue of gun control.
Candidates Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chaffee chose to go directly after the NRA, gun manufactures, ammunition dealers, etc. and promoted extreme gun control measures, including executive action on the issue, to satisfy their far left base.
This has gone on too long and it's time the entire country stood up against the NRA. The majority of our country supports background checks, and even the majority of gun owners do.
I have a good record of voting for gun commonsense safety legislation, but the reality is, despite these tragedies that happen time and time again, when legislators step up to pass commonsense gun safety legislation, the gun lobby moves in and tells the people they're coming to take away your guns.
We passed comprehensive gun safety legislation, not by looking at the pollings or looking at what the polls said. We actually did it.
Have you ever been to the Eastern Shore? Have you ever been to Western Maryland? We were able to pass this and still respect the hunting traditions of people who live in our rural areas.
It should be noted that although O'Malley touted success in Maryland for ramming through new gun control measures, he had little support at the time to do so. In fact, not only did western Maryland rally against the measures, but some of those communities threatened to secede from the state after O'Malley signed them into law. On the issue of background checks, we have them. The FBI does more than 21 million gun purchase background checks every year and the "gun show loophole" that was mentioned repeatedly by candidates simply doesn't exist. And finally, when adopting the firearms laws of Great Britain or Australia (as President Obama suggested two weeks ago) is pushed by liberals as the solution to violence committed with guns, it absolutely means the gun control advocates are promoting confiscation. As I argued last week:
The so-called “common-sense” and “modest” laws in Britain and Australia Obama refers to aren’t common-sense or modest at all, but rather require extreme confiscation and bans.
In 1996, the Australian government confiscated hundreds of thousands of personally owned firearms as part of their new “common-sense” gun control laws. In 1997, British citizens were forced to turn over their handguns for destruction. The prettier and more expensive versions were confiscated and placed in museums. Is this what Obama is suggesting should happen to the estimated 300 million firearms owned by American citizens? Is that what he means by “common sense,” “modest regulation” and “changing our laws?”
Of course it is.
Bernie Sanders and Jim Webb took a different approach to the issue, which ultimately is friendlier with the American public as a whole as more people now believe gun rights should be protected rather than infringed upon with more control. Sanders, who of course is from gun friendly Vermont, attempted to explain that gun control policy shouldn't be one-size fits all federal approach as there are major differences between rural and urban communities regarding the issue.
As a senator from a rural state, what I can tell Secretary Clinton, that all the shouting in the world is not going to do what I would hope all of us want, and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns and end this horrible violence that we are seeing.
I believe that there is a consensus in this country. A consensus has said we need to strengthen and expand instant background checks, do away with this gun show loophole, that we have to address the issue of mental health, that we have to deal with the strawman purchasing issue, and that when we develop that consensus, we can finally, finally do something to address this issue.
Webb in particular had a home-run answer on the issue by pointing out the elitism that comes with gun control efforts.
Look, there are two fundamental issues that are involved in this discussion. We need to pay respect to both of them. The first is the issue of who should be kept from having guns and using firearms. And we have done not a good job on that.
A lot of them are criminals. And a lot of the people are getting killed are members of gangs inside our urban areas. And a lot of them are mentally incapacitated. And the shooting in Virginia Tech in '07, this individual had received medical care for mental illness from three different professionals who were not allowed to share the information.
So we do need background checks. We need to keep the people who should not have guns away from them. But we have to respect the tradition in this country of people who want to defend themselves and their family from violence.
There are people at high levels in this government who have bodyguards 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The average American does not have that, and deserves the right to be able to protect their family.
I'll leave it at that.