Everything in the news has to be political … except for what should be political. That is because of the inherent imbalance between the two political parties. It is the Democrats' ability to deftly turn any tragedy into a political football (even if there is no pertinent public policy angle) and the Republicans’ inability to do so (when there actually is something government can do).
Though committed by a human being, the massacre in Las Vegas was/is as avoidable as a natural disaster. Sadly, in a free country of 325 million people, we will always be susceptible to random acts of insanity and terror, irrespective of our domestic criminal policies, gun policies, foreign policy, or immigration policy.
As Sen. Dianne Feinstein admitted, no law in the world would have prevented the shooting in Las Vegas. Yet, without even knowing a motive (and with the details getting more bizarre by the day), almost all other Democrats are trying to make this all about gun control. Unfortunately, Republicans and the NRA are following suit.
There is an emergency to deal with … well, whatever Democrats create a false sense of urgency to address. The new gun equivalent of “DACA fix” is barring the sale of bump stocks, which were evidently used by Stephen Paddock to boost the firing rate of his semi-automatic rifles.
A number of GOP House members and senators have promised to explore or have called for an outright ban of bump stocks. Most significant, the NRA issued a statement calling on the ATF to regulate bump stocks like other accessories that convert semi-auto rifles to fully automatic weapons.
I suspect most gun owners won’t care or miss them. Regardless, many are missing the broader point. The Las Vegas massacre has nothing to do with any gun policy, Democrats are politicizing it, and clearly the NRA and Republicans are allowing them to drive the narrative. Once we agree to the premise that regulating items already on the market will help stop random mass murders, we already lost the debate.
Erich Pratt of the Gun Owners of America was right to observe that, “We see this as an item that is certainly protected by the Second Amendment, and realistically, they are already on the market, so passing a law banning them isn’t going to stop bad guys like this creep in Las Vegas.”
It’s clear Republicans think that by surrendering on a random accessory nobody cares about that they will deflate the pressure for broader gun control. But their political barometer is broken. There is no great clamor for gun control from the public, gun sales are soaring, and the increase in mass shootings — both from domestic criminals and from Islamic terrorists — are only motivating people to get more serious about self-defense.
We are winning this issue and have been for quite some time. Why is there a need for any retreat — a calculated one or otherwise?
Only retreating, no reloading, from Republicans
More disappointing is the fact that the NRA has failed to push for any pro-gun legislation, even though Republicans have controlled all of government for nine months.
With a number of Democrats from pro-gun states standing for reelection, why have Republicans not aggressively promoted right-to-carry reciprocity legislation? Why did they not support Rep. Thomas Massie’s effort to allow right to carry in D.C. following the Steve Scalise shooting? Why have they not used the growing angst nationwide to go on offense and promote a government solution of more freedom while Democrats promote more tyranny?
Where are the bold colors?
Republican Rep. Richard Hudson’s Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38) is the best pro-gun bill in Congress and it has several Democrat co-sponsors. The North Carolina congressman’s bill would require all states to recognize the gun permits of every other state, including those “constitutional carry” states that don’t require a permit. The bill would also allow the right to carry on all federal lands, even within states that have prohibitive laws.
Yet, it has not even gotten a committee markup. Where is the NRA? Shouldn’t we make sure all Americans could carry some basic pistol before obsessing about bump stocks? This is like how Republicans allow extreme cases and rape to dominate the abortion conversation while they continue to fund a private organization that harvests baby organs.
Ever wonder how almost every Republican incumbent has a 100 percent from the NRA? It’s sort of like a baseball player with a 1.000 batting average on the first day of the season. When was the last time we made progress on guns at a federal level? Instead, the first time they open their mouths about gun legislation this year it is to help Democrats gain momentum for their disproven premise about gun control.
Then the NRA goes and protects these incumbents who have done nothing to defend gun rights other than answering a survey and saying they are pro-gun. Instead, they attack challengers who would actually force votes on gun legislation, as they did in Alabama with Roy Moore.
Is this bump stock issue really about defending the Second Amendment, or is this about maintaining their own power? Ironically, always being on defense and retreating versus Democrats is not an effective way of maintaining power.
Isn’t it interesting that we never see Republicans harnessing a tragedy of murder in sanctuary cities to promote immigration enforcement?
We never see them using terrorism committed by Middle Eastern immigrants here and in Europe as a means of promoting an immigration moratorium. They never use murders committed by those let out of jail or the rising crime rate to push back against jail-break policies. You don’t see anyone clamoring for tougher policing and sentencing in light of the rise in crime and 7,881 black homicide victims last year.
When an illegal alien was given just a two-year sentence after killing father-of-six Peter Hacking and two of his children in a head-on collision last year, nobody in the Republican Party used that tragedy to push for tougher sentencing laws and more immigration enforcement. His wife is now demanding changes to law, but I don’t see any clamor to pander to her on the part of the political class.
Sunday, Fox New reported that an illegal alien from Guatemala was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a 6-year-old in her own home in Trenton, New Jersey. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Republicans to raise hell about illegal immigration.
And in all the aforementioned examples, there actually is a valid public policy angle. Public policy is built off broad trends affecting the whole of the people in ways that can be redressed by a change in law. Immigration is elective, sanctuary cities are already unlawful, and liberal judges can be stopped from letting criminals out of jail. Gun control just doesn’t work to stem the tide of increasing crime, and nothing could prevent isolated and random mass killings.
The gun issue is probably the only public policy issue in which Republicans have secured an enduring victory in recent decades. Yet, they are finding ways to turn a winning issue into a losing one while Democrats turn losing issues into winning issues.
It’s because Democrats actually believe in their campaign promises; Republicans are just there for the ride.
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Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.