Friday, August 28, 2015

Firearms Friday: Blame

Once again, we end the week looking back on another cowardly tragedy committed by a clearly unstable individual. Unfortunately, it was also no surprise that the shooting was politicized before the suspect was even found… the calls for more gun control range out louder than the shots fired early on Wednesday morning. Another heinous act blamed on inanimate objects and those who own them rather than the individual who committed the crime.

It wasn’t long before posts from my liberal friends on Facebook began filling my feed and with quotes posted my conservative friends following this initial deluge. The most commonly used of which was a quote from then Governor Ronald Reagan when he addressed the Republican National Convention in Miami Florida on July 31, 1968 amid a time of tremendous racial turmoil which erupted in riots. The excepted says simply “We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Essentially, violence is an individual act and must be treated as such… the idea of railing against a group of people because of the acts of an individual must be rejected.   

Yesterday, the coverage continued and, of course, the calls for more laws intensified. While there was plenty of political banter, the quote that really crystallized the debate for me was that of Senator Marco Rubio who was quoted by the New York Times at a campaign stop in New Hampshire having said “It’s not the guns, it’s the people who are committing these crimes. What law in the world could have prevented him from killing them?” And that is what this all really comes down to… we must hold individuals accountable for their acts especially those with premeditated plans who would have followed through with this act regardless of means. In the end, this is why there are more knife attacks and beatings in the UK… people find a way to accomplish their goals regardless of whether they are good or evil.

Lastly, the other part of this whole equation that is being overlooked is the fact that even when bills are passed, they are not being enforced and/or the funding is not being spent (i.e. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System). The NICS Improvement Amendment Act was signed into law by President Bush on January 8, 2008 with the explicate mission to improve the background check system in this country. The law, endorsed by the NRA by the way, allocated Congress $1.3 Billion to improve record keeping in states which would allow greater transparency and improve the Federal gun background check system. To date nearly 90 percent of funding has never been spent and the Obama administration will further reduce spending from its peak in 2015 of $78 million down to $55 million in the President’s 2016 budget request.

Why don’t we focus on the real issues at hand instead of the hype and politicization of tragedy? Instead of the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by gun control groups (keep in mind that I am well aware of the money spend by gun rights advocacy groups in response to various proposals and campaigns calling for the stripping away of our rights), what if we focus and put our money elsewhere that would really have an impact on the issue at hand. What if we committed hundreds of millions of dollars to mental health? What if we actually improved NICS and spent the $1.3 billion? We don’t need more laws and we definitely don’t need to prosecute and entire group of people in this country. We need to improvements in mental health in this country and we need to improve the effectiveness of the background check systems already in place. This is not a debate… this is the solution!