An issue (one of many) that contributes to my lack of confidence in government and the general animosity toward politicians is the tendency to govern by fad.
I think that this unserious and superficial approach, especially at the national level, is very dangerous and is clearly responsible for the “pinball wizard” feeling we get as America bounces from crisis to crisis.
I think a perfect example of this is the current “gun control” debate. Undoubtedly this became a hot item due to the Sandy Hook school shootings. The reason that I call it a “fad” is not to show disrespect or to be callous, I just note that it was an opportunity to channel liberal anti-gun/anti-Second Amendment bias, combine it with the horrific visuals of dead children and direct it all toward the achievement of a long term liberal/progressive political goal – the banning of private ownership of guns.
As Awr Hawkins at Breitbart pointed out, this “push” has nothing to do with facts:
However, it appears the zeal of Sens. like Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) is misdirected. For in looking at the FBI numbers from 2005 to 2011, the number of murders by hammers and clubs consistently exceeds the number of murders committed with a rifle.
Think about it: In 2005, the number of murders committed with a rifle was 445, while the number of murders committed with hammers and clubs was 605. In 2006, the number of murders committed with a rifle was 438, while the number of murders committed with hammers and clubs was 618.
And so the list goes, with the actual numbers changing somewhat from year to year, yet the fact that more people are killed with blunt objects each year remains constant.
For example, in 2011, there were 323 murders committed with a rifle but 496 murders committed with hammers and clubs.
They are going after “assault weapons”, specifically the AR-15 type rifles when these are used in fewer deaths than blunt objects or even hands or feet.
The memo, under the name of one of the Justice Department’s leading crime researchers, critiques the effectiveness of gun control proposals, including some of President Barack Obama’s. A Justice Department official called the memo an unfinished review of gun violence research and said it does not represent administration policy.
The memo says requiring background checks for more gun purchases could help, but also could lead to more illicit weapons sales. It says banning assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines produced in the future but exempting those already owned by the public, as Obama has proposed, would have limited impact because people now own so many of those items.
It also says that even total elimination of assault weapons would have little overall effect on gun killings because assault weapons account for a limited proportion of those crimes.
The nine-page document says the success of universal background checks would depend in part on “requiring gun registration,” and says gun buybacks would not be effective “unless massive and coupled with a ban.”
This sleight of hand attack should not be unexpected as it has been in the Democrat’s playbook for over 20 years. My first memory of it was in 1991 when the Democrat Congressional leadership announced a probe into the mythical “October Surprise” of 11 years earlier – this being the charge that Reagan traded arms for the Iran hostages and orchestrated the release to assure his victory over Carter in 1980.
In announcing the probe, House Speaker Thomas Foley, D-Wash., and Senate Democratic leader George Mitchell of Maine said that committees from each house will review the case based on `persistent and disturbing’ reports.
`We have no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, but the seriousness of these allegations, and the weight of circumstantial information, compel an effort to establish the facts,’ read a joint statement from Foley and Mitchell.
As Rush Limbaugh stated in 2003, this amounts to this philosophy:
The nature of the evidence is irrelevant; it’s the seriousness of the charge that matters.
So it is with “gun control” – the actual facts don’t matter, but we MUST. DO. SOMETHINGtm. Never mind that we already have a myriad of laws on the books to restrict gun ownership – but as this CBS News report reveals, we simply don’t enforce them:
It notes that federal weapons prosecutions have fallen to the lowest levels in over a decade and points to statistics that suggest they should be higher. For instance, the letter points out that in 2010 there were 76,142 denials following instant background checks for guns, and of those, 4,732 were referred to field offices for investigation. However, only 62 prosecutions resulted from those referrals.
“A prosecution rate this low is not indicative of a Department of Justice that takes the act of illegally attempting to acquire a firearm seriously,” the letter says.
The argument that the administration should focus on enforcing existing laws before creating new ones was employed by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre when he testified before the Senate earlier this year. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen a dramatic collapse in federal gun prosecutions in recent years,” LaPierre said in his testimony. “Overall in 2011, federal weapons prosecutions per capita were down 35 percent from their peak in the previous administration. That means violent felons, gang members and the mentally ill who possess firearms are not being prosecuted. And that’s unacceptable.”
So what do we do?
We try to layer even more laws on top of existing laws to create a situation so complex and confused that any given citizen has little assurance of what is legal and what is not (think of our Byzantine tax code or the 80,000 page plus Federal Register). I know that it has been quoted before but I just watched parts 1 and 2 of the Atlas Shrugged this weekend and remembered this exchange between Hank Rearden and Dr. Floyd Ferris, Ph.D., the Associate Director of the State Science Institute:
“Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against—then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it.
You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted—and you create a nation of law-breakers—and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”
Our government (under both Republican and Democrat control) has proven that it selectively enforces laws to influence behaviors in ways that support the flavor of the month. It is devastating for the individuals who run afoul of these selectively enforced laws but in reality, all citizens must live in fear of the unequal application of law based on which way the political winds are blowing at the time. This kind of legal uncertainty is what was prohibited by the Fourteenth Amendment and is the very definition of tyranny.
Wake up folks. Cut through the BS. Stop falling for the fads.