“I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets. We may have our disagreements on gun safety regulations, but we should all be able to agree on a few things. If the FBI is watching you for suspected terrorist links, you shouldn’t be able to just go buy a gun with no questions asked. You shouldn’t be able to exploit loopholes and evade criminal background checks by buying online or at a gun show. And yes, if you’re too dangerous to get on a plane, you are too dangerous to buy a gun in America.” – Hillary Clinton, June 13, 2016
Okay, I have worked around and avoided this one for long enough. Time to jump in. #21 on the list of 38 (see first post in this series) is ‘gun violence prevention’. This is arguably the most controversial issue on the table today. Radical supporters of the 2nd Amendment will literally put their right to own and carry guns before the safety and well-being of their families, and I almost always get slammed a time or two when I write about it. That said, since it is such a hot topic, it is important for us to understand where the candidates stand, and because there has been much misconception on Ms. Clinton’s ideology about guns and gun control, it needs clarification.
The far right claim that Hillary Clinton wants to abolish gun ownership in the U.S. and repeal the 2nd Amendment. Not true, and even if she did want to, it would be impossible, so let us put that one to bed right off the bat. Hear me, Republicans! Repeat after me: Hillary. Clinton. Does. NOT. Plan. To. Abolish. Guns.
So, what does Ms. Clinton mean when she says she plans to “take on the NRA”? Let us take a look:
Fight for comprehensive background checks.
It is estimated that 20 to 40 percent of all gun purchases in America are conducted with no background check because federal law fails to cover unlicensed transfers online, at gun shows, and between anonymous strangers. Yet, more than 90 percent of Americans support background checks because they work. Since President Bill Clinton signed the Brady background check bill into law, more than 2.4 million prohibited gun purchases have been blocked. More than one million of those attempted purchases were by felons. To increase the number of gun sales subject to background checks, Clinton will:
- Advocate for comprehensive federal background check legislation.
- Close the “Charleston Loophole.”*
- Tighten the gun show and Internet sales loophole if Congress won’t.
Hold dealers and manufacturers fully accountable if they endanger Americans.
While the vast majority of gun dealers and manufacturers operate safely and responsibly, the select few that do not should be held accountable. However, due to lobbying efforts by the NRA, these bad actors are granted unique protections in our laws, and the country’s law enforcement agencies often face barriers when attempting to hold them accountable. To ensure that the safety of our communities is prioritized over the profits of the gun lobby, Clinton will:
- Repeal the gun industry’s unique immunity protection.
- Revoke the licenses of bad-actor dealers.
Keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, other violent criminals, and the severely mentally ill.
It makes no sense that in America dangerous and unstable individuals can obtain deadly weapons. As president, Clinton will:
- Support legislation to prohibit all domestic abusers from buying and possessing guns.
- Make straw purchasing (illegal firearm purchasing) a federal crime.
- Improve existing law prohibiting persons suffering from severe mental illness from purchasing or possessing a gun.
- Keep military-style weapons off our streets.
*A bit of clarification may be in order. What, exactly, is the “Charleston Loophole”? On 17 June 2015, a young man named Dylann Roof entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, South Carolina. He joined into a prayer service, then suddenly opened fire, killing nine African Americans, including senior pastor and state senator Clementa C. Pinckney, and injuring one other person. Roof personally purchased the gun used in the shooting from a retail gun store in Charleston. On July 10, FBI Director James Comey announced that Dylann Roof was ineligible under federal law to buy the gun used in the attack because of a prior admission to drug possession. Due to paperwork errors, however, an employee at the FBI-administered National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which processes background checks for guns sold by licensed dealers, was unable to locate and view Roof’s arrest record, despite knowing that one existed somewhere. Under the current background check system, if a check cannot be completed within three business days, it may proceed at the gun dealer’s discretion in what is known as a “default proceed” sale. According to the FBI, this is how Roof’s sale was completed. The “default proceed” sale only exists because of an NRA-backed amendment to the 1993 Brady background check law that created the current background check system.
Nowhere in her plan does Ms. Clinton say she will take guns out of the hands of citizens. Her only goal, as you can see here, is to implement sensible procedures to ensure that guns are sold only to people who are, as the gun supporters say, “law-abiding citizens”, and to disallow certain types of weapons that, in truth, have no place in the hands of any other than military or SWAT teams. In recent years, the power of the gun lobby, namely the National Rifle Association (NRA) has become such that they have been able to make gun regulation legislation almost impossible to pass. With some 33,000 deaths by guns in this nation every year, it should be obvious to all that we cannot continue to disregard background checks.
Frankly, I would support much more stringent gun control than that which Ms. Clinton is proposing, but I also understand that the gun-phobia in this country would never allow it. The reality is that Ms. Clinton will have a difficult time getting her proposed legislation through Congress, because so many congressmen and women receive donations from the NRA to block just such legislation. This is an abomination, a pimple on the collective butts of Congress, and I sincerely hope that Ms. Clinton is able to drastically reduce the power of the gun lobby.
One last time, let us repeat this just to make sure we are all clear on it: Hillary. Clinton. Does. NOT. Plan. To. Abolish. Guns.
Additional details are available on Ms. Clinton’s campaign website