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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

 
Democrats aren't Republicans and other observations. (Why gun safety has a long way to go.)

by digby

David Frum understands a great many things about the Republican Party and how it operates. But he doesn't know the Democrats. In this piece he offers up a compelling case for the President and the congress to take some specific action on the issue of gun control that goes beyond what they are currently proposing.

He suggests they take some bold steps to communicate to the nation the dangers of our free fire zone. First he says that the president should instruct the Surgeon General to write a report on the health implications of gun violence just as the Surgeon General did in the 60s with with the dangers of tobacco.

And then he wants to the Senate to hold hearings and have the gun manufacturers face questions like the tobacco executive back in the 90s.  You remember this:

Now I agree that both of those projects are worthy and would go a long way toward educating the public. But I think it's obvious that just as the Republicans of those earlier eras are different, so are the Democrats. It's almost impossible for me to believe they would do such a thing in an environment that features actions such as this:

Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill this month making Florida the first state in which it's illegal for any physician to "ask questions concerning the ownership of a firearm" or "harass … a patient about firearm ownership during an examination." The stated purpose of this law is to protect patient "privacy." Which raises a very important legal and constitutional question: Huh?

Patient privacy is already protected by law, and the right to bear arms is also already protected by law. So the new bill mainly just protects patients from feeling bad or judged at their doctor's office. Now if Florida doctors make their patients feel bad about their guns—or if patients only think their doctors are trying to make them feel bad about their guns—the doctors are on the hook for disciplinary proceedings, possible revocation of their medical license, and administrative fines up to $10,000 per count.

Or this:

Ashcroft ordered that all government lists — including voter registration, immigration and driver's license lists — be checked for links to terrorists. But there was one list Ashcroft did not want used - the gun purchasers background check.

Every person who buys a gun from a dealer must pass an instant criminal background check. It's called the National Instant Criminal Background check system or NICS. The records of those checks are kept by the FBI. After September 11th, the ATF wanted to review those records to see if any suspected terrorists had bought guns.

They wanted to know whether any of them had slipped through the system. The Department of Justice stepped in and stopped the FBI in their tracks. The Department of Justice said no, you can't do that. You can't use the records of approved gun purchasers in connection with a criminal investigation.

Attorney General John Ashcroft told the FBI to stop checking the NICS list...That mirrors the position of the National Rifle Association, which insists that the data collected when people buy guns is an invasion of privacy.

Even 9/11 couldn't move the gun nuts. They eagerly went for torture, kidnapping and the suspension of habeas corpus but God Help Us, don't mess with the 2nd Amendment.

And the Democrats didn't exactly stand up and shout j'accuse! In fact, they pretty much fell all over each other to back the right wing all the way. Indeed, they became so enabling of this gun proliferation agenda that they allowed the assault weapons ban to expire with hardly a peep. I see little evidence that they have come far enough from that to stage some major confrontations with the gun lobby.

Frum knows the Republicans wouldn't wait --- they'd go for it. But that's how they roll, not the Democrats. The Dems will fight for some benign regulations and they might even get them. And there's no denying that the argument has at long last been taken up, at least. With the help of Bloomberg and some others, over time we might turn this around. But until it becomes obvious to the Democrats that they have more to win by fighting this than they do by enabling it, I doubt that anything dramatic will happen. There are some progressives in congress who are slowing changing this dynamic and over time it probably will. But not today. This scares them too much:

The National Rifle Association will launch a print advertising campaign targeting mostly Democratic senators up for re-election in 2014, according to sources close to the group.

On Thursday, full-page ads are scheduled to run in local newspapers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina and West Virginia. They will be supplemented by digital advertising in these states and 10 others, including Alaska, Colorado, Montana, New Hampshire and South Dakota. …

The campaign is estimated to cost north of $375,000, sources said. The NRA’s newspaper ads will run in three states with Democratic incumbents up in 2014: Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. In West Virginia, Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller is retiring, but the race to replace him is competitive.

Remember, this is how West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin ran his winning race:



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