Over the weekend anti-gun Democrat frontrunner for president Hillary Clinton took aim at the Second Amendment with an op/ed for New York Daily News. In it she writes:
First, we need to repeal the law that gives the gun industry sweeping liability protections, so companies that make and sell guns can be held accountable when their products kill people. When the NRA pushed that misguided law through Congress, they said that preventing lawsuits was their top legislative priority. Now it's making it harder for families who lost children in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, to sue Bushmaster for marketing its AR-15 assault rifle to civilians. As President, I'll stand with the families victimized by guns, not the corporations that profit from them.
Clinton begs the question by assuming that because “liability protections” exist she must remove them. There is no “liability protection.” Gun manufacturers can be sued the same as auto manufacturers, appliance makers, etc etc if the product is defective and/or doesn't operate as advertised. The only exception in which a gun manufacturer or store front can be sued is if they knowingly sell to a prohibited possessor or criminal. Gun makers don't make guns for prohibited possessors or criminals and criminal usage of a legal object isn't the fault of the manufacturer. This does nothing to curb gun violence but it is a boon for trial lawyers.
Second, we should implement comprehensive background checks. President Obama recently issued several executive orders designed to strengthen this federal system. Surveys have shown that even 85% of gun owners favor these checks. And it's hard to believe that we still allow people on the no-fly list to purchase firearms. I think it's pretty simple: If it's too dangerous for you to be allowed on an airplane, it's too dangerous for you to own a gun.
If Democrats want to stop suspected terrorists placed on a watch list from buying firearms they need to indict them. They must bring formal charges. We don't suspend the 5th Amendment rights of due process for American citizens based on (often faulty) suspicion. There are American citizens on this list, a sizable number that are innocent and are innocently listed. We don't deny them the opportunity of a fair trail, to face their accuser, and defend themselves. A simple federal charge is enough to temporarily render them a prohibited possessor at which time evidence will either exonerate or convict them. People like Teddy Kennedy, Rep. John Lewis, Nelson Mandela, journalists Leland Vittert and Stephan Hayes were all listed. Stripping someone of a natural right based on suspicion alone is a penalty without a conviction. And once you're on this list? There is no disclosure as to how someone is included on the list and it's next to impossible to get yourself removed. Democrats want inclusion on the list to count as a conviction because it excuses them from bringing formal charges based on evidence. If you have evidence, bring forth charges. This expectation that the American people should bear the burden of the state's inability, or outright refusal, to prosecute suspected terrorists isn't Constitutional. It's difficult to believe that Democrats are serious about barring terrorists from firearms when they've armed them and seemingly refuse to prosecute. Democrats want to sell you the emergency of barring terrorist access to firearms while ignoring the very law that would allow them to do so while avoiding infringement on Second Amendment rights. They cannot combat terrorism unless they are given consent to list anyone—and considering how zealously they placed returning veterans and tea partiers on terror watch lists a few years ago, you should be concerned.
Furthermore, “comprehensive background checks” didn't stop the San Bernardino terrorists from enacting their atrocity in California, despite such laws already in existence. They also didn't prevent the illegal usage of firearms on innocent groups in Oregon, Washington, Colorado or all of the other states which saw such criminal acts despite having “comprehensive background checks.” This is because criminals ignore laws.
Hillary Clinton's proposals already failed here and here.
Third, we need to close the so-called “Charleston loophole.” Right now, a person with an arrest record can walk into a gun store to buy a gun, and if their background check isn't completed within three business days, they can walk out with a firearm. It makes absolutely no sense. More than 55,000 gun sales that would otherwise have been blocked have been allowed to proceed because of this loophole. One of them was the gun bought by the white supremacist who murdered nine parishioners at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston last year.
There is no such thing as a “Charleston loophole.”
FBI Director James Comey issued a public statement admitting the state and FBI “flawed” in not flagging murderer Dylann Roof.
I've also written about this extensively:
The background check system is already flawed and the administration plans to expand it further. John Lott has done some excellent work on the faulty background check system:
If someone is flagged by the NICS system, it is because it appears that they didn’t put down something in their background that disqualified them from buying a gun. Yet, an initial denial does not mean that the individual is actually disqualified from owning a gun. Take the numbers for 2009, the latest year with data available. There were 71,010 initial denials. Of those, only 4,681, or 6.6 percent, were referred to the BATF field offices for further investigation. As a report on these denials by the U.S. Department of Justice indicates, “The remaining denials (66,329 – 93%) did not meet referral guidelines or were overturned after review by Brady Operations or after the FBI received additional information.” The last two of these three categories are clearly false positives. The first might involve false positives, but it is possible that the disqualifying offenses are too old (though there are some prosecutions that involve misdemeanor violations that are four decades old so that isn't too obvious). To put it differently, the initial review didn’t find that these individuals had a record that prevented them from buying a gun. (Numbers for 2010 are available here.)
Still that isn’t the end of the story. Of these 4,681 referrals, over 51 percent, or 2,390 cases, involve “delayed denials,” cases where a check hasn’t even been completed. Of the rest, 2,291 covered cases where initial reviews indicated that the person should have been denied buying a gun. But the government admits that upon further review another 572 of these referrals were found “not [to be] a prohibited person,” leaving about 4,154 cases. That implies an initial false positive rate of roughly 94.2%. And it still doesn’t mean that the government hasn’t made a mistake on the remaining cases. In some cases for example, a person’s criminal record was supposed to be expunged, and it had not been?
Of the cases referred to the BATF field offices there were still a number of false positives. A 2004 sample found out that about 21 percent of these cases were found to be false positives (the percentage is slightly higher if a weighted sample is used).
Furthermore, how do you “improve notifications?” We're talking about improving the consistency with which people do their jobs. It wasn't a lack of manpower that enabled thug Dylann Roof to purchase a firearm and mow down black church-goers. It was a simple FBI error:
According to Comey, on April 13, two days after Roof tried to purchase a gun, a background check examiner ran his criminal history, which brought up a felony drug charge and wrongly listed the arresting agency as Lexington County Sheriff’s Office.
Whether or not Roof could even purchase a firearm is moot as he was charged with felony drug possession and in South Carolina, a charge, not even a conviction, is enough to render one a prohibited possessor. Roof couldn't carry much less purchase. But then again, criminals don't follow laws.
Clinton's proposals are nothing but collections of word salad that do nothing to address the real problems (like criminal justice reform) and everything to boost trial lawyers' salaries