Hillary's Misguided Gun Control Plan

As is so often the case, the Left will use every gun tragedy or mass shooting in this country to their political advantage in order to enact gun control measures.  Hillary Clinton, the ultimate political animal, is no different.  Her plan, unveiled in the aftermath of the Oregon shooting that left 10 dead, reveals the stupidity of their efforts.

Her plan which she reiterated in New Hampshire would include (1) universal background checks, (2) close the so-called gun show and Internet sale loopholes and (3) revisit the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA)- a 2005 law that protects firearms dealers and manufacturers from lawsuits.  We have heard all these proposals before although her attack on the PLCAA is somewhat new.  Also somewhat new is her vow to take executive action should Congress fail to act.

While both sides agree that there is work to be done to decrease the roughly 30,000 gun deaths every year, the Left’s solution is draconian, ill-conceived and possibly unconstitutional.  The fact is that if we look at a majority of these homicides and especially the mass shootings, we find that universal background checks would have done precious little to prevent the end result.  With mass shootings, which prompt these tirades on the Left, the perpetrators obtained their weapons legally, or would have even if there was a background check.  Most, if not all, suffered from some mental malady which background checks- unless adjudicated mentally ill- would not have caught.  The problem is the medical history privacy laws (HPPA) which prevent the official reporting of those who sought mental counseling.

Thus, it becomes an argument about medical privacy rights and whether they should be surrendered to allegedly address gun violence.  It is a question without an easy answer and given that, one has to err on the side of privacy rights.  First, precious few mass shooters sought any type of psychological counseling prior to their act.  Second, if we suppose the mental health community should report people to some national database, it would place unbelievable pressure on professionals to distinguish between the potentially violent and those without violent tendencies.  Third, the solution would be just to report anyone who sought any type of psychological counseling for anything despite the circumstances.  This would, fourth, deter people from seeking psychological counseling in the first place and we are back to square one.

Universal background checks sound great when spoken and when written, but they would likely be of little use as a deterrent.  If someone is hell-bent on obtaining a firearm and using it illegally, universal background checks penalize the lawful purchaser and leaves the unlawful free to their own devices.  It sounds great, but it is unworkable and fraught with privacy concerns.

Quite frankly, this writer is growing quite tired of hearing about the so-called gun show loophole.  Absolutely no guns used in these heinous acts were purchased at a gun show.  Instead, the real object of the gun control crowd is deterring the private sale of firearms where the buyer does not undergo the already established background checks.  For example, the Sandy Hook shooter obtained his guns from his mother who allegedly failed to secure her firearms in her home.  Should she be held responsible for the carnage her son wreaked in an elementary school?  Perhaps, but that is after-the-fact and the end result would have likely been the same.  In fact, upon reflection, we find that most if not all of these mass shooters could have legally obtained a firearm even if every supposed loophole was plugged.  This proposal would have prevented exactly NONE of the mass shootings or very few gun-related homicides in the country.

Perhaps the most notable of Clinton’s proposals is to revisit the PLCAA.  In response to lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers, Congress passed this law in 2005.  It prohibits lawsuits against manufacturers and sellers as a result of gun violence.  Previous, the gun control crowd engaged in an organized attempt to bankrupt the firearms industry through frivolous lawsuits.  However, it does not prohibit lawsuits in response to product defects, or any criminal conduct of a seller of firearms.

A recent case out of Wisconsin illustrates the use of this law.  There, a jury found Badger Guns guilty of completing an obvious straw purchase of a firearm.  The gun was then used in a homicide and the victim’s family sued the gun seller.  This is not a test case of how gun violence can be deterred, but in how the PLCAA is designed to work.  Badger Guns had a history of lax gun law enforcement.  Since 2005, 537 guns used in crimes were linked to Badger Guns.  Obviously, the problem was not the existing laws, it was Badger Guns who failed to train their employees and flouted the law.  They deserved the guilty verdict.

Clinton’s proposal would be to basically negate the PLCAA and open up the industry to lawsuits in an effort to bankrupt the industry.  In essence, this would be a huge product liability law which made manufacturers and legal sellers the target of lawsuits over actions and behaviors they have no control over.  It is akin to making a car manufacturer or seller liable should their product be involved in a drunk driving death.  And, incidentally, more people are killed annually by drunk drivers than by guns.  We do not make car manufacturers/sellers liable for the drunk driver that gets behind their wheels; we should not make gun manufacturers/sellers liable for the person who pulls the trigger.  But we do, just like with the car manufacturer, if the product is defective or if the seller/manufacturer engaged in an illegal act.  In the Wisconsin case, the seller engaged in an illegal act- they allowed a blatantly obvious straw purchase to proceed.  This is hardly the norm in the firearms industry, but the exception and one for which the jury verdict got right.

Finally, there is the question of executive action.  The Obama administration has suggested such and discarded the idea out of hand.  In their final analysis, they concluded that executive action would create (1) untold logistical problems, (2) unforeseen enforcement problems, (3) lengthy legal challenges and (4) likely not achieve its purported goals.  The proof is in the statistics.  The ultimate goal is to decrease the number of firearms in the country thus, the logic goes, decreasing the probability of gun violence.  This is manifested in the “If it saves even one life it is worth the effort” mantra we hear on the Left.  But, every time Obama or anyone else has made these proposals whether through legislation or executive action, gun sales have increased.  In 2015 thus far, at least 15.2 million guns have been purchased.  This rhetoric increases gun sales!

Clinton’s proposals are simply election year rhetoric.  Polls will tell us that greater than 70% of Americans prefer greater gun control measures because it sounds good.  But when we get to specifics, those numbers decrease dramatically where even registered Democrats are barely in the majority of those preferring the specific solution.  It is a rare case of the use of logic by a Democrat; something conservatives already know: that the government cannot be trusted and that the measures will do precious little to decrease gun violence in America.