Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says that a divided American electorate can find “common ground” under the banner of gun control.
She alluded to the inclusion of the no-fly list in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System’s prohibited buyer list as a rallying point for Americans. She also suggested the passage of universal background checks–like those passed by the Orlando gunman, the San Bernardino attackers, the Aurora movie theater gunman, and both Fort Hood attackers–would be a way to unite Americans against terror.
Writing in Newsweek, Clinton said:
The overwhelming majority of Americans support comprehensive background checks and other commonsense reforms to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. That includes Republicans and Democrats, gun owners and non-gun owners alike. In reality, we’re not divided on this issue. Americans know that we can respect the rights of responsible gun owners and enact commonsense gun reforms to keep our communities safe.
And yet the politics of gun violence prevention have become poisonous. Congress is so intimidated by the gun lobby that they won’t even prevent suspected terrorists from buying assault weapons. It’s unfathomable.
Two need to be made here:
- Clinton’s claim that Americans support universal background checks is rooted in polling data that shows varying degrees of support among different demographics in America. However, when voters go to the polls, they consistently vote against politicians who support more gun control and, in the 2014 mid-term elections, ran numerous supporters of universal background checks out of office. For example, Senators Mark Udall (D-CO), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Kay Hagan (D-NC), all voted for Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) universal background check bill in 2013. They were all defeated by pro-Second Amendment challengers in 2014. So the poll that matters–the one taken in the election booth–does not support Clinton’s claim that Americans want universal background checks.
- Clinton’s continued emphasis on preventing terrorists from buying guns is misplaced at best. Breitbart News has previously reported that the focus needs to be on keeping terrorists away from guns rather than passing new laws tied to gun sales. Terrorists can be kept from guns by tightening border security, enforcing expiration dates on travel visas, and locking up–or deporting–people who are thought to be too dangerous to fly or own a gun.
The Boston Globe makes a good case against using the no-fly list for gun control:
If people on the no-fly list and the even more comprehensive terrorist-screening watchlist pose such an urgent threat to national security, why haven’t they been arrested? If horrors like the San Bernardino massacre could have been prevented by incapacitating the individuals on the watchlists, surely it is sheer recklessness to do nothing until they try to board a plane or buy a gun.
Clinton suggested that various groups of Americans–“Republicans, Democrats, gun owners and non-gun owners”–feel divided when “in reality, we’re not divided on [the issue of control.” She added, “Americans know that we can respect the rights of responsible gun owners and enact commonsense gun reforms to keep our communities safe.”
In reality, Americans have watched the exercise of gun rights incrementally disappear in California as universal background checks and other controls have been pushed in response to criminal actions and terror attacks. But instead of stopping criminals or terrorists, the laws have shackled law-abiding citizens. The lesson is clear–you can’t pass what Clinton calls “commonsense gun reforms” and “respect the rights of responsible gun owners.” You have to do one or other–pass gun control or respect rights–you cannot do both.