The Bouncing Ball of the Gun Debate

“As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.” ― Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

The Senate on Monday approved a procedural voted in favor of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014. The bill is a combination of several proposals aimed at allowing people to use land controlled by the federal government.

It would make sure more target ranges are placed on public land, and that target shooting, hunting and fishing can take place on these lands, ends a ban on fishing gear made with lead components, something that was put in place for environmental reasons. Additionally, it will let people import polar bear trophies from Canada harvested from bears taken before they were placed on the endangered species list.

The bill, however is not sitting well with Democrats, who opposed it by saying the Senate should not be trying to expand the rights of people with guns, including Senator Chris Murphy.

“There is a perfectly legitimate debate to be had about bringing more legal guns onto public property,” Murphy said. “But there is a more important debate than that about taking illegal guns off of our city streets.”

“If the United States Senate is going to spend a week debating a bill about gun policy, than we should be talking about getting rid of illegal guns,” he added. “We should be talking about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. We should be talking about stopping the epidemic of gun violence across this country.”

He and Senator Richard Blumenthal both said they would vote against the bill because the Senate should be considering tougher gun regulations citing the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in late 2012. But they, along with others, were not enough to stop the overwhelming majority support for the bill.

Now, several GOP senators are hoping to offer amendments to strengthen gun right in the bill. However Senator Harry Reid is reportedly planning to block any floor amendments.

“These pro-gun Senators want to offer good amendments like concealed carry reciprocity,” Gun Owners of America notes, “but that won’t be possible if Harry Reid blocks their ability to offer pro-gun amendments with an ‘amendment tree.’”

Reid has often used procedural tactics, preventing Republicans from offering amendments that could put vulnerable Democrats on the spot in November. This and the gutting of the filibuster, has led too much of the legislative gridlock in the chamber.

Across the country in Washington State, a battle over gun rights is heating up with two opposing ballot initiatives concerning background checks. Initiative 594 would strengthen background checks on gun purchasers to include gun shows and online sales. Initiative 591, one the other hand would prohibit background checks by the state unless they conform to federal background check laws.

Initiative 594 says it would “apply the currently used criminal and public safety background checks by licensed dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun show and online sales, with specific exceptions.”

On Sunday, the Seattle Times editorial board endorsed the increased background check initiative and opposed the ballot measure supported by the pro-gun groups, slammed the anti-background check measure as “wholly inappropriate, unnecessary and potentially a reckless retreat.”

“The firearm industry and its entrepreneurial forces know their market, so the notion of ‘confiscating’ guns is immediately mentioned,” the opinion piece added.

If passed, Initiative 591 would make it “unlawful for any government agency to confiscate guns or other firearms from citizens without due process” and “unlawful for any government agency to require background checks on the recipient of a firearm unless a uniform national standard is required.”

As the debate over gun control and the Second Amendment rages Independence day brought New York City’s “most concentrated explosion of gun violence this year,” the New York Post reported, as a dozen people were shot, three fatally, within a five-hour span.

One victim “suffered a head wound so grisly that cops couldn’t tell if he’d been shot, stabbed or beaten,” the Post reported.

Another seven people were shot in the early morning hours of Saturday in Indianapolis, and six more at a Houston music festival around the same time on the same day.

But it is in Chicago that the most gun violence took place with at 82 people shot and 14 deaths during the long Independence Day weekend. At five of those shootings were police-involved, ending with two people killed.

“There has to come a tipping point where this changes,” Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said. “The illogical nature of what’s happening here — that government can intercede and prevent this from happening is overwhelming. And I refuse to think otherwise in a great country like America that we can continue to allow this to happen — not just on a state, but on a federal level.”

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