Tuesday, January 1, 2013

President Obama Is Right About Mass Shootings

Those of you who read this blog regularly will have been shocked by that headline.  Never the less, I have to agree with President Obama when he says, "Our approach to firearms violence must be multifaceted."  Since I agree with you, Mr. President - here are some thoughts as to what some of those facets might be.

We Do Need Gun Laws

a) We Already Have Tens Of Thousands Of Gun Laws On The Books

Most people who do not buy and own firearms are completely clueless as to just how much regulation is already in place at the state, local and federal level.  At the federal level alone, there is the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968, the Amendments to the Gun Control Act of 1968 that were passed in 1986 and the Brady Bill.  Most Americans do not know that every one of these bills were supported, in their final form, by the NRA.

Because Americans who are not "gun people" are not familiar with current gun laws, they don't know that when a PBS Newshour reporter says, "You can walk into any gun store and walk out in 20 minutes with a machine gun.", that he is misinformed or lying.  The truth is that machine guns have been very, very restricted since 1934 and became even more restricted in 1986.  None made after 1986 can ever be sold to any private citizen EVER, NO MATTER WHAT.  In order to by one of the machine guns built and in private hands prior to 1986, you have to go through a very rigorous background check, including a signoff by your local head of law enforcement.  You have to submit a plan for safe storage and be willing to submit to unannounced inspections by the ATF.  Finally, because they are scarce, you have to be willing to pay tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The truth is a very long way from "in and out in 20 minutes with a machine gun."

Without question, the greatest obstacle to honest debate is the constant lying by the anti-gun rights organizations, which is then repeated by most of the press, who either do not know better, or don't mind lying to the public.  Let me prove this to you be examining a couple of terms used by gun control advocates:

Gun Show Loophole - There is absolutely no such thing as a gun show loophole.  The exact same laws apply at gun shows as anywhere else.  Study after study has also shown that gun shows are not significant sources of crime guns - which is not surprising when you consider the size of the on and off duty law enforcement presence at gun shows!

"Unlicensed Dealers" do not have to do background checks - This is another lie.  There is no such thing as an unlicensed dealer, period.  It is a federal felony to be "in the business of selling firearms", without a Federal Firearms Licence (FFL).  Several Northern California law enforcement officers have been charged with this crime even though every transaction went through a FFL!  If you make money selling guns you have to have a license, period.

What there is a private sale loophole that allows individuals to sell firearms they own, to residents of the same state - if that state chooses to allow it.  This is the real "loophole", if you choose to call it that.

Since trying to pass a law aimed at preventing average citizens from selling - or giving their children - their own property without going through a dealer, does not grab attention like "Close the Gun Show Loophole" or "Get Rid Of Unlicensed Dealers" the anti-gun rights crowd chooses to play fast and loose with the truth.

If we are going to examine our gun laws, this must be done HONESTLY.  If the anti-gun rights crowd simply wants to use these horrible tragedies to get rid of more guns and then set the stage for even more restrictive laws when that fails to produce results, then gun owners will stand in opposition.  If the goal is an honest, unbiased look at what laws we have now and how they can be improved, gun owners - and the NRA - are willing to do that.

However, it is highly unlikely that anti-gun rights advocates want this, since NONE of their proposals would have prevented or lessened the death toll in ANY of the recent tragedies.   Vice President Biden has chosen to not even give the NRA a seat at the table as his task force examines current gun laws and recommends changes.  So much for a "national conversation". 

b) We Need Better Enforcement and Implementation Of Current Laws

The truth is that our current laws are simply not enforced anywhere near as well as they could be.  The NRA and gun owners want the laws on the books to work - because if they do, we won't have to deal with any new ones.  Every single one of the following measures could be implemented without a single new law being passed. 

Begin prosecuting everyone who illegally attempts to purchase a firearm - As anyone who has purchased a firearm at a dealer knows, when anyone buys a firearm at a dealer, they are required to present valid ID and fill out Form 4473 before the dealer runs a background check.  On the form, the buyer must affirm that they are not subject to firearms prohibition under any of the many federal restrictions (Felon, mental health commitment, subject of a restraining order, etc.)   Before the background check is ever run, a prohibited person has given the dealer everything the DOJ needs to prosecute the purchaser, should the background check reveal that they lied on the form.  The penalty?  Up to five years in prison for the first offense.

Back in the 1990's, a few years after the system started, the Clinton administration boasted that they "had stopped nearly 65,000 prohibited persons from buying firearms".  Then someone asked how many they had prosecuted.  Answer: Fewer than 15!  Sadly, one of the people who was turned down, but not prosecuted, found a gun on the black market that he used to kill a deputy sheriff.  He should have been in prison for attempting to buy a gun.  There is no indication that enforcement has been stepped up - the vast majority of people who lie on the Form 4473 are never even considered for prosecution.  The question is; Why not?

Shouldn't we start by enforcing the laws we already have?

Re-institute "Operation Exile" nationwide - Operation exile was an extremely successful partnership between local police, the ATF and Federal prosecutors.   The program - tested in Virginia Beach, Virginia - involved embedding ATF agents in every police precinct, where they are "plugged in" to investigations the local police are conducting.  When the cops encounter, say a felon carrying a firearm, they call in the ATF agent - who informs the felon that he is facing five years or more in a Federal Prison OUT OF STATE, where his family will not visit and where his gang probably has no power (hence the name Operation Exile).  The ATF and the cops can than use this threat in order to "flip" the subject, gain information, or in most cases simply have the US Attorney prosecute them and send them to that far off prison cell.  In Virginia Beach, the program was so successful that drug dealers actually stopped carrying guns and shootings steeply declined.

Appoint Non-Political Reformer To Head BATFE - Sadly, this important agency has been without a head for years because President Obama's nominees have all been anti-gun zealots, who have stood no chance of being confirmed by the Democrat controlled Senate.  The job of the ATF should be the enforcement of our current gun laws.  It should not be used to lobby for more laws and to harass law abiding gun dealers - who as one line ATF agent testified are "the people who make our cases for us".  After the disgraceful Fast and Furious scandal, in which ATF sent thousands of AK47 type firearms to Mexican drug cartels (only the latest in a long line of scandals), this agency is in great need of a complete overhaul.  There have even been calls for the agency to be abolished (including from Democrats!).  This is not time to use the agency to promote new gun laws, it's a time to reform the agency so it can really do it's job.

Rebuild Relationships With Gun Dealers - The Fast and Furious scandal, which included agents ordering dealers to sell to criminals and then attempting to prosecute them for doing so, did enormous damage to these important relationships.   Gun dealers are not just key to preventing prohibited persons from buying firearms, they are key to preventing many other firearms offenses too - most notably so called "straw buyers" - perhaps the greatest source of "crime guns"..  The loss of these relationships makes it much harder for ATF to do its' job. 

c) Tighter Laws May Actually Backfire, Making Things Worse

More restrictions on firearms do not always result in lower crime rates or even lower firearms crime rates.  An excellent example is Jamaica.  Jamaica banned guns in the early 1970s.  Obviously, Jamaica is an island - which should make keeping guns out easier.  In spite of 40 years of trying to rid the island of guns, it is awash in illegal firearms - many of them deadly, fully automatic AK47s.  Guns are both smuggled in and made in illegal factories on the island.  Gangs have almost nightly battles in the street and criminals need not worry that law abiding citizens who they choose to victimize may be armed.  They know they won't be.  The murder rate is 12 times higher than in the U.S. 

Within the US, there is a consistent relationship between the legal gun ownership rate and the rate of violent crime, including and especially, gun crime.  The higher the rate of gun ownership, the lower the crime rate.  During the recent presidential debates, President Obama mentioned the fact the his home town, Chicago, has hit 500 murders this year.  What he failed to mention is that the legal gun ownership rate is essentially zero.  Until 2010, when the Supreme Court forced the city to change the law, handguns were banned in Chicago - and other firearms were extremely difficult to own.  Did this help, or has it resulted in only the criminals having firearms?

With almost all things, the law of diminishing returns applies, gun control is no exception.  Could it be, Mr. President, that tens of thousands of laws, many of which are not even being enforced, are enough to cover this facet?

We Need Defenses

We will never be able to keep all firearms out of the hands of everyone intent upon mass murderer.  The two largest mass shootings in history took place in Norway and Germany - both of which have, much, much tighter laws than we have in the US.  We must put more defenses in place to stop, or at least minimize, the deaths due to mass shootings and other crimes committed in public.  Here are three things we can do.

a) We Need More Screened, Trained and Armed Citizens

The fact is the jury is no longer out on the effect of citizen concealed carry, it has been in for a long time and the verdict is that it works.  Florida enacted the first "shall issue" law in 1987.   (All this means is that if a citizen meets the objective criteria, they cannot be denied a permit.  The alternative is "may issue", which enables the issuing agency to deny a permit for any or even no reason.  The result is typically permits going to those who are pollitcally connected or no permits at all being issued.)  Of course, anti-gun rights groups predicted an increase in crime, people killing each other over parking spaces, and generally blood running in the streets.  That didn't happen.  What did happen was an almost immediate drop in the crime rate.  Florida was in the middle of an epidemic of carjackings.   Once the criminals knew that they might face armed resistance, they stopped doing carjackings.  Two kinds of cars continued to be to be targeted by carjackers: Rental cars and cars with out of state plates.  The criminals were targeting people from out of state - who they correctly believed would not be armed.   The rental car companies removed the stickers that identified them as rentals, and they stopped being carjacked.   That was 25 years ago.

Since than, 38 additional states have enacted "shall issue".  Not one state has repealed it.  In every case the same pattern been followed.  The law was considered, anti-gun rights groups made the same, "blood in the streets" predictions, the law was passed, people were screened, trained and permitted.  They then began to carry, the crime rate went down and the predicted blood bath never happened.  In a few cases, CCW holders stop crimes, almost always without firing a shot - such as the man who stopped a crazed man attack people with a knife on a Salt Lake City sidewalk.  No shots fired, the attack was stopped and the man was held for the cops.  39 times citizen licensed carry has proven itself - 41 if you count the two states, Alaska and Vermont, that have never required permits - it is highly unlikely that things will be different in the next state to adopt it.

It is important to recognize that you absolutely do not have to carry to benefit from others having the ability to legally do so.  The whole point is that criminals don't know who is a "hard target" and who is a "soft target".  On average, about 1% of the population will obtain permits.  99% won't.  But 100% of law abiding citizens benefit for the deterrent value of concealed carry. 

So, what needs to be done?  The Federal government needs to mandate shall issue, nation wide.  Even if the Congress does not do this, it is highly likely that the Supreme Court will.  After all, the 2nd Amendment speaks of the right to keep AND BEAR arms.  The courts have already held in more than one case, that your 2nd Amendment rights do not end at your door.   A Federal appeals court has ordered the last state with no form of legal carry at all, Illinois, to create one within 180 days.  Gun control advocates would be very smart to read the handwriting on the wall and trade this "chip" for something they want, before they loose it.  The administration should take this as an opportunity to prove that they really do support the 2nd Amendment.  National right to carry is going to happen, it is just a question of when.

It is also a question of how.  Barring a change in the make up of the Supreme Court, that they will rule in favor of right to carry is a near 100% certainty.  The only question is, what restrictions will the court allow on this right?  The high court signaled in the McDonald decision that it will accord a high level of protection to the 2nd Amendment (strict scrutiny, or something very close to it).  This means that government will only be able to restrict it for a compelling purpose (which they have) and then must use the least intrusive method that will accomplish this purpose.  What should concern both the administration and gun control advocates are the four states (AK, AZ, VT, and WY) that now allow anyone not forbidden to own a firearm to carry one concealed in public.  What if the a majority of the court decides that these four states (two of which have decades of experience with "no permit required") prove that permits are not need to accomplish the government's purpose of knowing who can legally carry and who cannot?  What if they say that as long as one has valid ID on their person, one can carry concealed?

I am not arguing that this is what SHOULD happen, I am arguing that it COULD happen.  Gun control has been loosing badly in the Supreme Court.  Why should gun control advocates make another mistake by letting this issue be decided there?  A federal law mandating "shall issue" would almost certainly prevent the issue from ever getting to the Supreme Court - because then gun rights groups would have very little to gain and everything to loose.

By mandating that every state must have a program and must recognize permits that meet the Federal minimum standard, the Federal government could increase the level of training across the nation - since most states will want their permits recognized nation wide.  How important is it for permits to be recognized across state lines?  Ask the people who were saved from the knife attack in Salt Lake City - the man with a gun and a permit who stopped that attack lives in Idaho and has an Idaho permit, which is recognized by Utah.  Also ask the man from Nevada, who has a Nevada permit, who saved a man's live by killing the man who was in the process of murdering him.  Prosecutors in Sacramento, California found the shooting justified - but prosecuted him for not having a California CCW permit, which non-residents cannot even apply for - much less hold.

There is room for debate as to the nature of both training and screening, but citizen concealed carry has proved it's value beyond any doubt.

b) We Need To "Ban Phony Gun Free Zones"

There is nothing wrong with a true, actual, gun free zone, such as the "sterile area" of an airport.  They work.  Shootings do not happen there, because no one is armed with any kind of weapon.  Of course, shootings do not happen at firing ranges either - for exactly the opposite reason: Everyone is armed.  The problem is not real gun free zones, it is phony gun free zones.

I have written an entire article on phony gun free zones.  Suffice it to say that when a study by a University of Chicago researcher finds that 99.5% of mass shootings (more than three people fatally shot) happen in places where people legally permitted to carry guns are forbidden to do so, it is clear that these sick individuals are actively choosing these places to carry out their murderous plans.  The reason why is obvious: They feel much more confident that they will not face any armed opposition until the first police officers arrive, allowing them to rack up a high body count.

These people almost certainly are mentally ill, but this does not mean they are incapable of planning - far from it.  Mass shooters have thought about what they are going to do for a long, long time.  Before they ever walk into a mall, a church or a theater, they have already planned how it will end,  It may be suicide (including "suicide by cop") or they may plan to surrender - but whatever their plan is, the moment they are presented with the first armed opposition the killing almost always ends.  Why?  Because while they are the only one with a gun, they have control.  when the second person with a gun arrives, they have to implement their end game plan.  Law enforcement trainers sometimes call this "the law of the second gun".  This is why officers are taught not to wait for backup in "active shooter" situations.

When a gun free zone is created, and protected by nothing but signs, it becomes the perfect killing field for these murderous individuals.  Why are these signs posted?  Typically on the advice of gun control groups, who use fear of guns, rather than sound judgement, to convince  stores, theaters and malls to post these signs - that serve as invitations to mass murderers. 

When confronted with the facts that prove that phony gun free zones actually cost lives, their most common response is, "More guns will only make things worse?"

Really?  If "guns only make things worse" than maybe the cops should be careful to leave theirs outside when they respond to a mass shooting.  When unarmed people are being killed wholesale, please explain how someone shooting back will "only make things worse".  At the worst, maybe the citizen misses and hits someone waiting to be shot by the perpetrator.  Is that risk not worth taking?   "Well, the cops are the professionals, you are safer waiting for them."  Sure, while people are being killed the last thing we want anyone to do is to use a gun to try and stop it.  If you stop the killing, or die trying, with your bare hands or an improvised weapon, the media hails you as a hero.  If you want to be ready to handle such as situation with a gun, you are a nut.  Their logic escapes me.

We do not have to speculate about the value of trained and armed citizens in stopping mass shootings.  On December 11, 2012, Nick Meli, a 22 year old Oregon concealed carry permit holder decided to ignore the "no guns allowed" sign and carried his Glock into a mall near Portland, Oregon.  A short time later, a man entered the mall with a stolen AR15 and began shooting people - until he saw Meli draw down on him.  Meli did not fire because he did not have a clear shot - probably the result of good training.  He did not need to fire.  The shooter promptly ran away from him, found a secluded place in the mall basement and fired his final shot into his own head.  No one died - except the shooter - after Meli confronted him.   The full story is here. 

Consider the following contrasting stories involving mass shootings at places of worship:

On August 5, 2012, Wade Michael Page, a white supremacist, entered a Sikh gurdwara (Temple) located in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  He was armed with a 9mm Handgun and began shooting people.  He faced no armed opposition.  He killed six worshipers and wounded three before police arrived.  After a brief exchange of gunfire, in which one officer was wounded, Page committed suicide.

In contrast: 

On Sunday, December 9, 2007, a mentally disturbed individual who had killed two and wounded two at a missionary center a few hours before, executed an attack on New Life Church  - a large congregation in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Attacking just after services finished, and armed with both an AR15 and a handgun, he killed two and wounded two in the parking lot.  He then entered the entered the foyer, intent upon reaching the sanctuary where several hundred people remained after the service.   At this point he was confronted by Jeanne Assam, a concealed weapons permit holder, who was a member of the church's volunteer security team.  She engaged the shooter, firing ten shots from her personally owned 9mm Beretta - hitting him multiple times.  He fell to the floor, mortally wounded.  He then used his handgun to take his own life.  No one inside the church died.  No one died after this CCW holder acted - except, once again, the shooter.  The Colorado Springs Chief of Police credited Jeanne Assam with saving dozens of lives during a nationally televised news conference. 

Also in contrast:

On March 25, 2012 in Spartanberg, SC a man entered Sunday Worship service with shotgun.  He was immediately stopped by a CCW holder who had brought his gun to church.  No shots were fired. No one was hurt, no one died. The man was taken into custody by law enforcement. 

In one case, the people all followed the anti-gun rights, politically correct philosophy.  They remained unarmed and defenseless.   The result: People continued to be shot until police arrived.  In the other two cases, people took a different course.  At New Life Church, they formed and trained a team to provide armed security.  In Spartanberg, there was nothing formal - just someone who had a CCW permit and because he brought his gun to church, no one was hurt, much less killed.

How do anti-gun rights groups reply to these facts?  Simple: They ignore them.  They setup phony tests that "prove" citizens cannot counter mass shooters.  They declare - with full coverage by the mainstream media - that an armed citizen would just make things worse in a mass shooting.  Funny thing is, they never provide any real world examples - because there are none - while we have no trouble providing examples.

It's time that we realized that guns are not always a bad thing,  It's time to balance the threat with protection equal to it.  It's also time for people who will never chose to carry a firearm to realize that these phony gun free zones are an extreme danger to everyone.

It's time we banned these phony gun free zones.  This could easily be accomplished by making those who create these killing fields civilly liable for knowingly creating a condition that attracts these killers.  The states should pass laws to this effect - and lawyers should consider bringing suit based on these facts.  If this happens, insurance companies will do the rest.

c) We Need To Protect Our Kids At Least As Well As We Protect Our Money

When we see armed armored car drivers picking up money at the supermarket, we don't worry because they are responsible for protecting themselves and the money they are responsible for.  We don't worry, because they have been screened,  trained and certified in firearms use and tactics.  We don't think the they will "only make things worse" during a robbery simply because they are not police.  We do not assume that their weapons will be taken away and used against them, or that those trying to steal the money will simply shoot them or that they will only shoot bystanders.  We don't think these things - or at least we have no logical reason to think these things - because the facts prove otherwise.  If they didn't, banks would not use armored cars and armored car companies would not use armed guards.

There is something profoundly wrong when we protect our money but completely fail to protect school children.  There is something profoundly wrong when we refuse to allow even a handful of teachers to defend their students with something more effective than bare hands.

It's time that we really protect our kids - and the people who do so DO NOT need to be police officers.  The vast majority of  training necessary to be certified as a police officer under P.O.S.T. (Police Officer Standards and Training) simply does not apply to the job of protecting kids in a school.  For instance, of the 400 hours of training required to be certified in Tennessee, only 40 hours are spent in firearms training.  Another 40 hours are spent on personal defense not involving firearms.  The remaining 320 hours are spent on everything from patrol procedures to constitutional law.  These skills, as important as they are to the job of being a cop, just do not apply to protecting kids.

So let's start with the 80 hours of training from P.O.S.T. that does apply.  Let's go the extra mile and double the number of hours to 160.  This would allow for specialized training in school security.  The number of hours would then comparable to that required to be certified as an EMT-1.  In the US, we have a mix of full time, reserve paid and volunteer EMTs.  All of them hold people's lives in their hands - yet no one accuses the reserve and volunteer EMTs of not being able to do their job because they are not full time ambulance or fire department employees.  Why should properly trained (and tested) volunteers from within our school systems be any different?

Both the state of Utah and the nation of Israel provide examples of how schools can be secured against mass murderers.  In particular, Israel provides the best example of how a mix of full time  security officers and volunteers from the school personnel can be used to keep schools safe.  I have written more about this in school security section of this post. 

The federal government - which already sets minimum school standards -  needs to require armed security at every public school, no matter what other steps we take.  The federal government should work with the states to develop training and certification requirements for school security officers.  No school should ever have classes in session without at least two certified school security officers, because no one should be without on site backup.  Individual schools, districts and states should have the flexibility to decide if the school security officers are volunteers from school staff, full time paid or a mixture of both.  They should also be able to decide if the security officers firearms are carried on their persons or secured in a rapid access safe (or safes) in areas not accessible to students.

Mr. President, isn't it time to learn from the past and stop rejecting any plan that involves effective defense?

We Need A Much Better Mental Health System

The most common characteristic of the people of commit mass murder is mental health issues.  In the Giffords shooting, the shooter had been behaving bizarrely for years and had been the subject of multiple law enforcement contacts - yet he was never sent in for evaluation.  In the Colorado theater shooting, the shooter had been receiving mental health treatment and the treating doctor did not realize how dangerous her patient actually was.  Perhaps worst of all, in the Virginia Tech shooting, the shooter had actually been committed to a mental health facility - but in the "interest of patient privacy" - the court never reported the commitment to the FBI for inclusion in the background check database.  As a result, he was able to buy a firearm at a dealer. 

So, what needs to be done?

a) We Need To Broaden The Circumstances Under Which Police May Compel Someone To Submit To A Mental Health Evaluation

Currently, in my home state of California and every other state I know of, in order for someone to be sent in for mental health evaluation people need to meet one of three criteria: Be a danger to others, be a danger to themselves (suicidal), or be unable to meet their basic needs of food, shelter and clothing.  Acting bizarrely or clearly having severe mental illness that is untreated, does not meet these standards.

The federal government needs to work with the mental health community to develop new standards for compulsory mental health evaluation and commitment for treatment.  Since we are drastically expanding the criteria for compulsory mental health evaluation, we will need to make sure that state and federal laws creating a disability to own and purchase firearms attaches only if a mental health professional determines that the individual needs to be retained for treatment.  It should not attach if the individual is evaluated and it is determined that they are not in need of treatment.   It certainly should attach if the individual does need compulsory treatment, no matter how much time they spend in the hospital or if they are admitted or not.  If such a person believes that they are not a threat and should be allowed to own firearms, they should have recourse through the courts.  

b) We Need To Make Release Of Committed Persons From Mental Health Facilities Conditional Upon Continued Treatment 

Currently, we can compel people in need of mental health treatment to remain at a mental health facility until they are successfully treated.  In many, if not most cases, this treatment involves medication that the patient must continue to take after the are discharged in order to prevent a relapse.

What happens when the patient leaves the hospital and decides to stop taking their medication?  Usually nothing - until they again meet the commitment criteria (and they come to the attention of law enforcement) and can be forced to again be admitted to the hospital to again be medicated - only to eventually be released and start the process all over again.  During my career in EMS, I saw this countless times.

A huge part of the problem is that the ACLU has won the "right" for mental patients to refuse treatment.  Never the less, we need to find a way to condition the release of mentally ill patients, who have been found to be potentially dangerous, upon their continued treatment - including follow up appointments and their continuing to take whatever medication enabled them to improve enough to be released.

c) We Need To De-Stigmatize Mental Health Treatment

This is important, not only because we will (hopefully) be compelling more people to submit to mental health evaluations, but because everyone agrees that the more people are treated, the more likely we are to spot the small minority of patients who are actually dangerous.  In addition, too many people who could be helped, never seek treatment because of the stigma that is still attached to any kind of mental health treatment. 

d) We Need To Make Sure That All Mental Health Commitments Are Reported To The FBI

Under current federal law, anyone who is involuntarily committed to a mental health facility for more than two weeks is barred from owning or purchasing firearms for life.  The Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of barring the mentally ill from owning firearms in the landmark, pro-gun rights decision in (DC v. Heller).  In light of this, congress may want to consider shortening the length of the commitment required for this disability to own firearms to attach.

A much greater problem has been getting this information into the National Instant Check System (NICS), maintained by the FBI.   When it was found that the Virginia Tech shooter passed a NICS check and was thus able to by a firearm, when he in fact should have failed the check due to a mental health commitment, the NRA lead the charge to fix this problem.  With support from both sides in the gun control debate, Congress mandated that mental health commitments be reported to the FBI.

Problem solved?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Their have been persistent reports in gun rights circles that most states are years behind reporting commitments to the FBI.  Both sides in the gun control debate want the NICS database to be both accurate and complete.  This issue needs to be investigated and if the states are lagging behind in reporting, Congress should consider appropriating funds from the federal tax on firearms and ammunition to enable them to catch up.

So, Mr. President, these are my suggestions.  Before we rush to pass yet more gun laws - NONE of which would have stopped ANY of the recent shootings - and which may very well violate the 2nd Amendment you say you support - shouldn't we first do something about the other two facets: Defense and Mental Health?  Shouldn't we enforce the gun laws that are already in place?

The answer to the above will determine if you really believe in a "multi-faceted" approach - or if your real goal is to use these tragedies to enact an anti-gun rights agenda that you have held for decades.

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