Unfortunately, in his Sunday column, Jonathan Hoffman repeats the same arguments that are usually made by those opposed to sensible gun regulations. He observes that universal background checks would have done nothing to prevent the Las Vegas shooter from obtaining his guns. While that is true as to this shooter, Hoffman misses the greater point that universal checks may help stop the next one.
That’s what we need to focus on now.
Felons can, and do, illegally obtain guns at gun shows, yard sales and through other private sales. Required background checks for everyone can prevent some people from getting guns that they shouldn’t have. The fact that it wouldn’t have stopped Las Vegas is irrelevant to the effort to prevent more shootings.
Hoffman’s argument that liberals are somehow misusing a tragedy for political purposes is also a tired refrain. When something horrible happens in life we try to figure out why it happened and how to stop it from happening in the future. We do that in all aspects of life, except when it comes to gun regulation.
He notes that other countries have had a small number of mass shootings as if they are somehow equivalent to the large numbers happening in our country. While all of them are horrible, those other countries like Norway and Australia took action. They didn’t sit by and say nothing could be done to stop it from happening again. Australia’s actions in the 1990s had a particularly remarkable impact on shootings there.
The columnist further argues that opposition by Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, and many others, to a bill before Congress that would require concealed carry permits to be recognized across state lines is contrary to rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. He is simply wrong.
The Second Amendment does not give one the right to concealed carry. Indeed, many jurisdictions have laws against it. Hoffman implies that preventing him from carrying concealed into any state would violate his constitutional rights. It would not, as he has no such constitutional right to begin with.
Finally, engaging in name calling is what prevents us from having rational discussions about gun regulation. Pejoratively calling people “snowflakes” that should run and hide because they believe guns should have further controls than are currently in place is unnecessary and unhelpful to the debate.
Why not have a full and open discussion about what could prevent at least some of these shootings? Why doesn’t Congress allow the Centers for Disease Control to research the issue? Let’s have a full discussion about universal background checks, limitations on the capacity of magazines to hold large numbers of bullets and assault weapons that used to be banned in the 1990s.
Why can’t we at least have that discussion, now, while the tragedy is still fresh?