Democrats are enraged that four gun control measures failed to pass the Senate on June 20 after the deadliest mass shooting in history violently disrupted the LGBT community in Orlando a few weeks ago.
The Gun Control Proposal War
One of the four proposals introduced to the Senate was written by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, after the San Bernardino shooting to address the no-fly list. Feinstein, et al., wanted to ban suspected terrorists from purchasing guns while under federal investigation. More than a majority of Republicans disagreed, and rightly so.
An alternative to Sen. Feinstein proposal by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, proposed a grace period. Essentially, this would allow government officials to suspend someone from purchasing a gun for up to 72 hours. I find this rather shocking that a Republican would grant the government such power, considering the mantra of conservative philosophy is to fight against big government and overzealous federal authorities. The measure also provided leeway for a prosecutor to make a case in court as to why the suspected terrorist(s) gun rights should be taken away indefinitely. I’m sorry, what? What happened to innocent until proven guilty?
The truth is each proposal was ludicrous and infuriatingly forfeited consideration to due process. According to a site explaining the U.S. Constitution, due process is mentioned twice in the Constitution, in the fifth and fourteenth amendment.
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
The 14th Amendment is as follows.
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Josh Gelernter of the National Review refers to the lack of due process consideration as a “War on Due Process.”
“… You don’t have to be a terrorist to have been ‘identified’ as one by the FBI. You don’t have to be a terrorist to be arrested as a terrorist or indicted as a terrorist — any more than you have to be guilty of murder to be charged and tried for murder.”
A Call For Background Checks
The other proposals introduced in the Senate were about background checks. According to CBS News, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, who filibustered for 15 hours for gun control, wants background checks to be mandatory for all “prospective gun buyers.” Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley introduced a less restrictive background check.
The majority of Americans support background checks — and in all honesty, I’m intrigued by the idea, somewhat. However, I have many questions that continue to go unanswered. For instance, what kind of criminal record red flags a person and restricts them from purchasing a gun? Are drug dealers and addicts red flagged? I certainly don’t think a drug dealer or user (who did not commit a violent offense) should ever have their gun rights restricted after they’ve completed their time in prison.
That said, do we forbid domestic violent offenders from their second amendment rights? What about rapists? What about thieves? I mean what is the criteria for protecting society from criminals — whom should be on their way to reforming their lives — after incarceration? How long do we punish people for their crimes? What about second chances? Of course, murders should never have their second amendment rights restored if ever they are granted their freedom again because they took a life. Outside of that, what are the criteria to background checks in determining who rights we allow the system to terminate indefinitely and who the system restores? Also, should the federal government be granted such a right, considering their history of corruption?
The conversation of background checks also includes people living with some form of mental illness. I somewhat understand this position, and have gone back and forth myself on the subject — especially when I think of Columbine, Sandy Hook, the Charleston shooting, and now the Orlando shooting. But at the same time when did it become proper protocol to assume a person living with mental illness is too fragile to be trusted or is prone to cause harm to others? Most individuals dealing with a mental illness are law-abiding citizens. Most people living with mental illness are your neighbors, your coworker, a family member, and possibly even you. When did it become ok to stigmatize everyone negatively and assume the worst in people?
Where Do We Draw The Line?
It’s easy to stigmatize and to legislate with fears. But we’re Americans, and should be better than that. Have we not learned from our history, i.e. Jim Crow laws and Japanese internment camps? Letting fears oblige our sensibility and tendencies is very dangerous. In a perfect world, there would be no gun violence and mass shootings, but the world isn’t perfect. It’s beautifully damaged.
I’m not saying citizens shouldn’t be active in their efforts to decrease gun violence in all shapes that it exists. What I’m saying is a good and law abiding citizen develop in the home, in education, our values, and our moral consciousness, not more laws — because not all legislation result is morally productive nor morally right.
Now before you call me a conservative shill for the NRA, please note I am a liberal, I’m not a member of the NRA, and I don’t own guns. I just firmly believe in the Constitution and the rights of each citizen. It saddens me to watch my party, the Democratic Party, who fought for civil rights, equal rights, and a fairer justice system, is now so willing to forfeit due process, and in all honestly, common sense.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]