Thursday, January 7, 2016

Chris Murphy on Reducing Gun Violence (With Reply and Links)

[Update: Clickable image links in the comments below should open an Amazon page where you can buy each book cited.]

From U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), editorial comments below:

For three years, Congress has failed the families of Newtown and victims of gun violence across the country.
While Congress, bitterly divided over partisan politics, has been stalled on this issue, the rest of America has continued to grieve. Countless families have felt the pain and heartache of losing a loved one to gun violence -- the same horrifying sting felt by those 26 families in Newtown on December 14, 2012.
I represent those families in Congress. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't witness their pain, or share their utter bewilderment in our failure to do something about it.
But we also remember the strength and resiliency of the Newtown community. We remember the teachers who protected those kids, who died shielding them with their bodies. We remember the first responders who rushed in to help. And we remember the millions of acts of kindness and gifts and phone calls that came in from the rest of the world.
This is the spirit behind President Obama's executive actions to reduce gun violence. He is doing what he can to prevent future gun violence because he knows that, as Americans, we cannot just close our eyes and blindly accept this as the status quo -- especially when it threatens the safety of our children.
Learn more about President Obama's commonsense proposals to keep guns out of the wrong hands.
Some of my colleagues in Congress have already raised their objections over these steps. Here's my message to them: Stop listening to the gun lobby. If they listened to gun owners instead, the vast majority of whom support sensible steps to keep guns out of the wrong hands, this debate would be over already.
We would have already acted. We would have passed universal background check legislation. We would have made straw purchasing and gun trafficking federal crimes to give law enforcement the tools to combat the flood of illegal weapons across state lines. We would have passed a ban on high-capacity magazines. We would have made it impossible for those on the FBI's terror watch list to purchase a deadly firearm. Instead, we've done nothing.
We should be listening to victims and families across the country who have been calling on us to act and do what we can to make the world safer for their children.
I'm proud to stand with President Obama on the actions he's taking to prevent gun violence. If you want to learn more, make sure to tune in to CNN tonight at 8:00pm ET, where President Obama will discuss the issue and take questions at a live town hall event.
But the President can only do so much -- it's up to Congress to do more. We must stand up to the gun lobby and do we what we can to prevent what happened in Newtown from ever happening again.
What greater responsibility do we have?
Thank you,

Chris Murphy

First of all, this web site continues to offer condolences to the people of Newtown. They probably feel very much the same way several people in Gate City felt after an incident in the 1940s where a drunk driver ploughed through a whole Sunday School youth group, killing several teenagers and badly injuring others. The survivors of some of those teenagers took vows to boycott the automobile industry for life, and at least eight of them, I know for sure, kept those vows and died without ever having had drivers' licenses or owned cars. My father was one of those resolute survivors. He was considered too young to be in the same Sunday School class with the victims, though not too young to sit in the hospital that night and the next day, watching his older brother die. He didn't demand that his children boycott the automobile industry, but he certainly showed us that it's possible to live without cars.

Cars continue to kill more Americans--three times more Americans, at last report--than guns do. In fact, if protecting ourselves from enemy armies is anybody's primary reason for buying a gun, that person might save some money by reflecting on the fact that someone who really wants to kill people can kill more people, faster, with a car.

But does anybody seriously think that a federal ban on automobiles is something we need? "If only our government had made it much harder for anybody to have a car, Tracy would be with us today"? Even in cases where that's true, people aren't saying it...because it's not an article of a quasi-religious faith that's been preached to them, and consequently people don't believe that simply abolishing motor vehicles would make everyone safe and happy ever after.

The facts just don't support the claim that interfering with the sale (or gift) of firearms keeps anyone safer. If anything, the facts support the claim of More Guns Less Crime. The facts don't support the claim that a more intrusive and authoritarian central government builds a stronger, healthier, safer, happier, or wealthier nation, either. Both beliefs are residues left over from the dead, disproved pseudo-religion of Marxist Communism, which have been handed down through many hands, over several generations, to present-time advocates of bigger government.

People hold that whole set of beliefs today, not because they're true, not because they've made Cuba or China or Venezuela or North Korea or the Soviet Union a great success whose development the rest of the world wants to emulate...but for one of three other reasons: (1) habit; (2) a craving for Control; or (3) a world-weary, depressive wish to lie back and be "controlled" during their declining years, which I've recently recognized among some of the less healthy members of my generation.

Looking at the facts, David Kopel has compiled the following explanation of why the measures the Senator mentions would not have helped in disasters like the Newtown murders:

No More Wacos: What's Wrong With Federal Law Enforcement and How to Fix It (1891;wellesley Studies in Critical)

This web site respectfully requests that the Senator from Connecticut reconsider whether he may be projecting or imposing his beliefs onto others, as rigorously as this web site is sure Senator Murphy would prefer that people like Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee reconsider beliefs like "If only Adam Lanza had had the love of Jesus in his heart, there would have been no Newtown murders..."

That belief also happens to be true; if Lanza had had the capacity to be a sincere Christian (which I doubt), he wouldn't have wanted to kill little children. (And if the school had required him to report to the principal's office, he wouldn't have got within sight of the children. And if he'd been born with ovaries, he would have been a girl...these things are true, but no longer relevant.) If vendors and customers at gun shows were further inconvenienced by more restrictive laws, their local economies might or might notice any loss, but that would have made no difference to Lanza since he didn't buy his weapon of choice at a gun show. If background checks were more intrusive, that might or might not affect any particular business, but it would have made no difference to Lanza since he didn't buy his weapon and therefore didn't go through a background check. If there were no guns in Connecticut at all, however, Lanza might have killed even more children with a bomb. Or with a car.

Fair disclosure: This web site has consistently received support and encouragement from a legitimate gun store. You'd think our friends there would be the ones calling for more restrictions on gun shows, since they're the ones who would, in theory, profit from such restrictions. Far from it. They patronize gun shows, which are a boost to the economy of a nearby city that hosts a couple of gun shows each year, and oppose the additional restrictions.

Because...I've not called them for an exact quote, but I'm fairly sure they'd agree with this statement of the case: The greatest responsibility the U.S. Congress has, under the U.S. Constitution, is to maintain strict "checks and balances" on the executive branch of our government, and prevent our President from dictating policy through executive orders without the full support of Congress and the electorate.