The new Speaker of the House seems predictably dismissive about upcoming gun control legislation. Despite the fact that a young man sprayed bullets from a Glock with a once-banned illegal weapon into a crowd killing children, federal employees and severly wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, John Boehner is pushing back against non-NRA-friendly laws.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the nation's more outspoken gun control advocates, pleaded for lawmakers to renew the gun control debate at an event yesterday supporting legislation proposed by Rep. Pete King. Calling alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner “a disgrace to democracy” and "a mentally ill drug abuser," Bloomberg did not mince his words:
As perhaps the only Republican Member of Congress championing gun control, King's planned legislation would make it illegal to carry a gun within 1,000 feet of a government official. Boehner will not support the legislation says spokesperson, Michael Steele.
So what gives, John? Even Eric Cantor taking a little time to think about this one -- believing "it's appropriate to adequately review and actually read legislation before forming an opinion about it” according to The Hill.
Here are a few key facts about guns and gun control in the context of the Giffords shooting:
- Glock sales spiked after the shooting in Arizona with some stores moving twice the volume of the easily concealed yet very powerful pistol just two days after the attack -- and that's in addition to the 60% nationwide increase in Glock sales over the past year.
- The Federal Assault Weapons Ban -- which expired in 2004 -- could have prevented Loughner from causing double-digit casualties in just a few minutes. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was murdered by another man on a shooting spree in 1993, plans to reintroduce this ban in the wake of the Arizona shootings.
- More people want more guns more quickly. Already selling $3.5 billion worth of firearms annually (on average) the gun industry is booming. Americans bought nearly ten million new guns in 2009, an all-time high.
- Not a single gun law has come across Obama's desk, and NRA remains the most powerful lobby in Washington. Wait. Scratch that. Reverse it.
And it's not just the Republicans steering the conversation on Capitol Hill. Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, won his seat after running an ad in which he fires a bullet through federal legislation. Literally:
In a statement released after the shootings, Manchin sums up perfectly the Second Amendment paradox:
We should not group law-abiding Americans who own guns -- and who have the right to own guns -- with a deranged madman.
This is the old saying about how guns don't kill people, people kill people. (Also, bullets.) But is this just a chicken and egg conversation? Until the country gets better at identifying and treating mental health, it may be tough to single out the madmen from the crowd of regular law-abiding Americans.