Join Date: November 15, 2007
Location: Outside KC, MO
Email exchange between me and an opinion writer at the Kansas City Star
In the General Discussion forum, I had posted a thread about my comments to the Star's public editor about my thoughts on a pro gun-control op-ed piece the star had published.
The editor forwarded my email to the writer, who responded to me with this:
Derek Donovan passed your e-mail to me. I don't share your view that background checks, or even registration, would lead to confiscation of guns from law-abiding citizens. I do appreciate you sharing your thoughts.
All the best,
Opinion Writer/Kansas City Star
I responded to her as follows:
I don't mean to be a jerk, but check out the NY SAFE Act that just passed (after NY senators spent a whole 20 minutes reviewing the bill) and was signed by Andrew Cuomo. It calls for confiscation, though of magazines as opposed to weapons, after 1 year has passed. It doesn't take much of a leap to say that NY could focus on weapons for mandatory turn-in next.
New Jersey and California have, in fact, confiscated "assault weapons" in years past. One such case in New Jersey happened just last year, when the state decided they had erred in not adding one make of rifle to the prohibited list, and retroactively sent officers around to seize those that were sold in the state.
So I have to wonder how you could find my view to be outre.
Meanwhile, as I recall, you and Mary Sanchez did not have any kind words at all for the concept of requiring proof of citizenship in order for registered voters to cast their votes. If it is wrong to require checks of voters, how then is it right to require what are effectively prior restraint checks against those who would exercise another Constitutionally protected right?
I can only imagine the hoopla that would ensue if the feds decided that the First Amendment was really only intended to apply to the press, and that in order to participate in the press, a citizen must first undergo some sort of background check or government approved qualification course.
Before you tell me that guns kill people, please recall some of the things that votes and speeches have brought about. In fact, I'd claim that without Hitler's speeches, the Nazis guns would never have been enough.
Speaking of harms by the press, did you follow the recent stories from and about the Westchester Journal News, in New York? They followed in the fine tradition of several other publications, that decided to out registered gun owners and / or concealed carry permit holders: they shot themselves in the foot.
In previous cases, many papers were chagrined to learn they had outed their own board members; the chairmen of the banks with which their papers dealt; their city council folk and their mayors... In this case, the Journal News outed, by name and address, a lot of NYPD current and retired officers (40% of the published list, according the an NYPD deputy chief, were his people); state corrections officers (some of whom reported being threatened by inmates who were able to tell the guards that they knew where they lived); and at least one woman who had been hiding from an abusive ex, against whom she had restraining orders. At least two of the homes to which the Journal News published addresses were subsequently burglarized, and guns were stolen from them. Last but not least, the Journal News failed to even ensure the addresses they published were current; many home owners have complained that the people who owned guns no longer live in those homes.
Ironically, the Journal News staff and editor / publisher, while maintaining that their reporting was ethical and had journalistic merit, and while averring that guns themselves were a public danger worthy of causing them to place gun owners at risk of theft and worse, decided that due to the volume of angry emails and calls they received that they would hire - you guessed it - armed security. The first day this was reported (by other papers in the area), the Journal News had armed guards at their offices. Within two days, armed guards were observed at the publisher's home, and at the homes of several editors and reporters. This smacks just a wee bit of hypocrisy.
And the editor / publisher was outraged when a local talk radio host published the list of her and the staff's addresses.
On yet another note, Wayne LaPierre was lambasted by Dana Milbank for having his facts wrong when he went before the Senate the other day. Specifically, over his claim that despite (IIRC) 78,000 failed NICS checks in the year they were discussing, only 62 prosecutions were forwarded; the gun control sponsor Senator who accused LaPierre of being extremely wrong said there were over 11,000 prosecutions for federal gun crimes in that year.
The thing is, LaPierre was correct, and the Senator and Milbank were wrong, according to DOJ numbers. What the Senator and Milbank either failed to grasp (giving them benefit of the doubt) or simply hoped most in the media and the voting public would fail to figure out, or even bother to check (which I personally find more likely, but I am a very cynical sort) is that federal gun crimes include a lot more than attempts at unlawful purchases. There were only 62 prosecutions in that year for that particular federal gun crime. Just as in 2010, there were only 44 such prosecutions, despite around 80,000 declined NICS checks.
This tells us that either: a) the NICS system is broken, and causes wrongful delays or denials in over 99% of cases, or b) the government has passed a law that it rarely enforces, costing the treasury a lot of money, inconveniencing a lot of people, and not accomplishing anything. Either could be correct. Tellingly, when VP Joe Biden was asked about this, his answer was along the lines of "we don't have time for all of that."
So what, exactly, would universal checks (which equate, by the way, to the feds telling states such as Missouri that they are once again going to ignore Article Ten of the Constitution, using another improper interpretation of the Interstate Commerce Clause) accomplish? Even Biden admits they are not likely to stop the next Sandy Hook.
One last thought: the wealthy and the politically connected will always be able to pass checks or meet requirements, in one way or another. Arbitrary hoops that must be jumped are most likely to adversely affect the poor, who often live in the worst areas and arguably have the most need to keep and bear arms.
Lieutenant Commander, USN (retired)
PS I find it very funny that there are people in the US, and probably on your editorial staff, who would have conniptions over the fact that I own an AR; yet those same people, as taxpayers, probably never gave it a second thought when, in uniform, I was responsible for 3 8-tubed Sea Sparrow surface to air missile systems; 4 20mm Close-In-Weapon-System (CIWS) Gatling cannon; 10 .50 M2HB machine guns; several .30 M60 machine guns; and the armaments on the ship's SH-60 helicopters and F-14 and F/A-18 interceptors.
I suspect those same people never give any thought to the fun a person bent on killing could have with some glass bottles, some diesel fuel, and some detergent (if you don't know, that makes napalm bombs); or just some padlocks and chains (for securing fire exits) and a can or two of gasoline.