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As Long as We Remember...

March 16, 2018

Mass Shootings Deterrent - Rejected

Ken Kellar

As we were wringing our hands after every mass shooting, someone tried to do something about it, Sens. Charles Grassley (IA) and Ted Cruz (TX). Below are the main sections of the 88-page bill they introduced almost five years ago:


Combating Gun Crime, NICS, NICS Reauthorization and NICS Improvement (the term ‘‘NICS’’ means the National Instant Criminal Background Check System)


Prosecution of Felons and Fugitives who attempt to illegally purchase firearms. (Clarified law and intent to prosecute for attempting to buy a gun when prohibited)


Increase penalties for Lying and Buying.


To strengthen the efforts of the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute cases of convicted felons and fugitives from justice who illegally attempt to purchase a firearm. (Intended to actually prosecute felons for trying to buy a gun rather than just being turned away. Formed a task force for that purpose.)


Availability of records to NICS. (Designed to improve the NICS data base)


Increasing federal prosecution of gun violence.


Clarification that federal court information is to be made available to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. (Addressed issues like the Air Force failing to enter felony conviction and domestic violence information into the NICS system which may have stopped the church murders.)


Definitions relating to mental health. (Clarified mental health determinations that could result in gun purchase restrictions while requiring due process to protect individual basic rights)


Reports and Certifications to Congress. (Required regular monitoring of implemented changes)


Multiple sales reports for rifles and shotguns. (Increased scrutiny of multiple gun purchases)


Study by the National Institutes of Justice and National Academy of Sciences on the causes of mass shootings. (Funded the study)


Reduction of Byrne Jag Funds for state failure to provide mental health records to NICS. (To increase available mental health information so background checks would work better)


Firearm Dealer access to law enforcement information. (Supported background checks)


Interstate transportation of firearms or ammunition. (Protects lawful transporters to get from legal state to another legal state without being sent to prison by a no-gun state along the trip)


Grant program for school security. (Funded school security measures)


What happened to this bill? “…an alternative Republican gun bill by Chuck Grassley and Ted Cruz that would have provided funding for gun-crime prosecutions, school safety, and mental health — but placed no new restrictions on gun ownership — was killed by a Democratic-led filibuster. That amendment received 52 votes, not enough to move forward.” (2013 Washington Post)


Nine Democrat senators voted for the bill, two Republicans voted against it. What stand did Maryland take? Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski voted it down.


I’m sure Ms. Mikulski and Mr. Cardin fans can rationalize the basis for voting against improvements on the background check database and increased enforcement to keep guns from mentally ill and criminals. But when you do rationalize, please remember compromise doesn’t mean I win you lose. It doesn’t even have to mean we both lose. Winners, successful people, seek and often obtain win/win solutions.


Senators Cruz and Grassley identified weaknesses in already approved programs and sought to strengthen them. The bill did not take any guns away from good/healthy people, so the bill was killed.


Need I remind you that recent mass shooters passed background checks because the database was empty? In one case the Air Force failed to inform the system. Down in Florida, the local police force failed to charge the shooter with any crimes although they were called to stop his mayhem well over 30 times. They kept his record clean.


Next time you hear the ACLU or others argue to keep juvenile criminal records or mental health records sealed, think about the potential consequences.


The next time you hear of a program that protects criminal juveniles from arrest and prosecution, think about the consequences.


Those who stand behind sealing juvenile records and looking the other way consider themselves guardians of the weak, the innocent victims of circumstance, the “vulnerable.” In reality, they are keeping monsters safely hidden in the shadows until the monsters choose their time to strike.


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