The Unserious Gun Control Debate

The fix is in that won’t fix anything.

By 1/14/2013

Vice President Biden’s gun violence task force is reportedly going to give its recommendations to President Obama tomorrow, kicking off the next stage of the gun control debate. President Obama — aided eagerly by his media cohort — will try to convince people that this is an immediate crisis with his characteristic insistence that “we can’t wait” for Congress to pass a new “assault weapons” ban.

As the Washington Post wrote in a Saturday editorial, “The opportunity to do something serious about gun violence must not be lost.” The definition of what is “serious” — what would actually help prevent another Newtown-like school massacre — is being shaped by the left to exclude anything other than gun controls. So far, there’ no competing idea from the gun advocacy groups or Republicans who will have to fight Obama’s ideas on the floor of the House and Senate.

While Obama and the rest are busy convincing people that only they are “serious,” gun control opponents are cornering themselves by limiting their opposition to a debate over whether we have more or fewer guns in private hands and in or around schools. That’s bad politics and a strategy that will ensure defeat. They have to do better.

To limit the debate to “more versus fewer guns” produces absurdities such as the one adopted last week by the Montpelier, Ohio Exempted Village Schools Board of Education. They voted to allow janitors to carry guns in school to defend the students against crazed murderers such as Adam Lanza of Newtown infamy.

Armed janitors? We can’t have a member of SEAL Team 6 in every school in America, but we have to do a lot better than the idiotic ideas of arming janitors or teachers.

When Obama announced the Biden task force in December, he told us the conclusions he wanted: a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, elimination of the exemption from background checks for private sales at gun shows, and something — anything — to spend more on mental health treatment.

Biden, who tipped his report last week, will recommend what Obama told him to last month. After Biden reports, and Obama endorses his recommendations, the congressional gun controllers will add their own ideas. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.) wants owners of “assault weapons” to have to register them on a federal database. Her definition of “assault weapons” includes semi-automatic pistols capable of holding magazines with a capacity of more than ten rounds. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wants background checks on the sale of ammunition. Others may propose prohibitive taxation on the sale of weapons and ammunition.

Meanwhile, there are no counter-proposals from gun control opponents.

This sets up a replay of the Obamacare debate. Republicans were accused daily of failing to offer a counterproposal (though some did) and the debate proceeded on Obamacare as an all or nothing choice for Congress. The media ensured that. Without a counterproposal actively advocated by conservatives, the gun control debate will proceed on the same lines. Opponents of Obama’s and Feinstein’s proposals will be isolated and demonized.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, there are serious solutions that would likely prevent mass murders such as the Newtown massacre. First and foremost is to get the dangerous mentally ill off the streets. For the past forty years or so we’ve been so busy protecting the civil rights of the insane that we now have state systems that make it almost impossible to involuntarily commit the dangerously insane. These people, as forensic psychiatrists agree, can be identified before they act because they fit a fairly clear profile. It’s time for the states to take decisive action by changing their laws and spending the money that’s required to take these people out of circulation and house (and treat) them in adequately secure facilities.

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