Appearing on Meet the Press this morning, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed bewilderment at the many lawmakers in Washington who continue sabotage existing gun laws:
BLOOMBERG: You’d think that if a congresswoman got shot in the head, that would have changed Congress’ views. I can tell you how to change it, just get Congress to come with me to the hospital when I’ve got tell tell somebody that their son or daughter, their spouse, their parent is not going to come home again. This past, this week, even though the murder rate in New York is so much lower than almost every big city, we still had a cop shot last week with a gun that somebody had even though the federal laws prohibited that person from having a gun.
You know, the federal laws say you can’t get a gun if you have a drug problem, psychiatric problems, criminal record or [if you are] a minor. And yet Congress doesn’t give moneys to make sure we can have a background check. They have too many loopholes. The background databases aren’t up to date. Private sector sales of guns are something like 40 percent and they don’t do background checks, I don’t know who has to get killed for people to start saying ‘wait a second, this is enough.’
If anything, the picture in Congress is even bleaker than Bloomberg suggests. In 2006, the NRA successfully lobbied Congress to make the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) a Senate-confirmed position. Since then, the Senate has been unable to confirm anyone to serve as the chief enforcer of firearms laws due to the combination of gun lobbying and the nearly-unbreakable filibuster. President Obama’s nominee was blocked because he opposes allowing civilians to purchase a weapon capable of punching a baseball-sized hole in 2.5 inches of bulletproof glass.
Not content simply to erect barriers to enforcing federal firearms laws, much of Congress also wants to strip states of their power to enforce reasonable gun regulations. The House recently passed the “National Right To Carry Reciprocity Act,” which forces nearly every state to honor concealed carry licenses issued by the states with the laxest licensing rules. Half of North Carolina concealed carry permit holders with felony convictions have been allowed to keep their permits, and Florida issued 1,700 concealed carry permits to people with “criminal histories, arrest warrants, domestic violence injunctions and misdemeanor convictions for gun-related crimes.” Under this NRA-sponsored bill, all of these permit holders who be allowed to carry concealed firearms in 49 of the 50 states.
Nor are federal lawmakers the only ones looking for new and more creative ways to arm the nation. Several states are pushing efforts to force colleges to allow concealed firearms on campus — because clearly what America needs are rooms full of fraternity members packing heat right after they each consumed a case of Milwaukee’s Best. Not to be outdone, Colorado lawmakers are pushing a bill to allow firearms in elementary schools.
As conservative Justice Antonin Scalia explained in D.C. v. Heller, respecting the Second Amendment does not mean filling every building with firearms, or eliminating concealed carry rules, or placing guns in the hands of convicted felons or the mentally ill. Sadly, far too many lawmakers have let the NRA convince them that the myth of the Second Amendment far exceeds the reality.