That didn’t take long. Smart money said it would have taken half of Sen. Pat Toomey’s term before the hardcore right put him in their crosshairs. Instead, it only took two years to bend him over the (gun) barrel.
Why such vitriol, with Toomey decried as another “Benedict Arlen,” a reference to liberal GOP Sen. Arlen Specter?
He thinks background checks for gun buyers is a good idea.
That’s it — lock, stock, and barrel. Toomey’s smoking gun “sin” was advocating that all people buying firearms at gun shows and on the Internet would be given such a check, and many Republicans came after him with guns blazing.
Sadly, the “cause” for which many of these critics fight has morphed from reasonable positions to ones of stupidity and, ultimately, self-destruction. The GOP’s results in last year’s presidential and senate elections are proof.
Toomey believes he’s doing the right thing, and as a bonus, his position will help him with re-election. But instead of embracing Toomey as one of their own, the hard right continues to pound, despite his being one of the staunchest Second Amendment defenders.
Talk about shooting blanks.
A primer is an explanation to the uninitiated. But in the case of background checks, many so-called experts are nothing of the kind. So for their benefit, let’s set the record straight:
1. Background checks are not federal gun registries, nor do they lead to them. Period. Conspiracy theories notwithstanding, the federal government does not have a registry of who owns guns, much less how many and what kinds (nor should it). Likening background checks to gun registries is comparing apples to school busses (you can pass a background check but not buy the gun). So when entertainer Ann Coulter says background checks lead to registration, confiscation, and extermination, consider the source. This is the same Ann Coulter whose column last month was pulled by FOX News after opining (she says joking — does it matter?) about John McCain’s daughter Meghan getting murdered.
For people who believe expanding background checks will lead to registries, where have they been? Since we would simply be expanding an existing system, without changing it, then by definition, wouldn’t we already have a registry? Can’t have it both ways.
2. In many states, the dealer conducts a background check through the FBI’s NICS criminal database, which usually takes a minute. Upon passing, you fill out the paperwork, which stays with the dealer for 20 years, and you’re a gun owner. Should that gun be used in a crime, the serial number will be traced to the manufacturer, distributor, dealer, and ultimately to you. Not exactly a Big Brother database, huh?
3. This is not a conservative/liberal issue. Since checks do not infringe upon a law-abiding citizen’s right to own a firearm, it’s not “gun control.” It’s criminal control.
4. While not a panacea, they work: 1.8 million denials. In 2010, half of those denied had felony convictions or indictments, and 20 percent were fugitives.
5. Toomey proposed an exemption for in-family purchases. The focus was closing loopholes for Internet and gun shows sales. Currently, private sellers are not required to perform background checks on long guns.
Critics contend that the private sellers account for a relatively small amount of gun show purchases. By that logic, not many people will be “inconvenienced,” so what’s the hang-up?
And what’s the alternative? To allow felons to buy a gun with quasi-legal impunity? Granted, they aren’t allowed to possess firearms, but a smart criminal will use this loophole rather than risk the dangers of buying on the street. If not background checks, then what?
6. Since idiocy is not illegal, it would behoove some critics to get a shot of common sense. Here’s an idea: Don’t go to rallies with AK-47s. And don’t blame the “liberal media” when that shot appears on the front page. Do you want to look cool (newsflash: you don’t) by touting guns in public, or do you care about protecting gun rights? The two don’t go hand-in-hand. Leave the guns at home, wear something that isn’t camouflage, and calmly articulate a reasonable message. It’s much more effective at convincing the Great American Middle, and it will be they, not you, who will ultimately decide this issue.
Are expanding checks a slippery slope? Like anything, diligence is required, but the short answer is “No,” since the system already exists. Those opposed are actually doing themselves a disservice, for their position will be blasted away when a convicted felon shoots up the place using a gun purchased via the loophole.
It’s time to shoot straight with the hardcore and demand they employ reason over emotion. If not, when the smoke clears after the next tragedy, those gunning for major restrictions will get there faster than a speeding bullet.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.
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