Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) debunked Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’s pro gun advocacy during a debate on Meet the Press this Sunday, dismissing his arguments as “just dumb.”
Discussing his opposition to President Obama’s gun safety plan, Cruz suggested that increasing gun access among poor women in urban neighborhoods could reduce violent crime, argued that an assault weapon ban would be unconstitutional and accused the administration of exploiting the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut to advance a “partisan agenda.” Schumer, a long-time gun safety advocate fired back. He pointed out that the Supreme Court decision in DC v. Heller established an individual right to bear arms, but gave the government wide latitude to regulate guns:
SCHUMER: Heller also said that there should be reasonable limitations, that they’re allowed reasonable limitations. I don’t think that lady needs an assault weapon. I don’t think she needs a 100-round clip. I don’t think, for instance, that those things would help her in any way. So so to say she has a right to bear arms: yes. To say, just like on the first amendment — we say you can’t scream “fire” in a crowd falsely, we have anti-pornography laws, anti-libel laws. There are reasonable limitations. And the NRA [National Rifle Association], in many instances, doesn’t believe in any limitation at all. That’s not unconstitutional. That just is dumb.
Indeed, to quote Justice Scalia’s decision in Heller, “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” The ruling also allows limitations on ownership of “dangerous and unusual” weapons — like, for example, the ones restricted in assault weapons bans.
Moreover, the idea that poor urban neighborhoods would be helped by easier access to guns has it exactly backwards. David Kennedy, an expert on urban gun violence at City University of New York, has found that lax gun laws unequivocally contribute heavily to violence in cities: “The more we have learned about how concentrated gun offending is – this is, for all practical purposes, entirely a problem of seasoned criminal offenders – gang activity and drug market activity and robbery, homicide, all that sort of thing – the more evident it’s become that there are these very commonsense ways of intervening with them to quite dramatically sometimes reduce their violence. And the commonsense package on this has always been to work both sides. You do something about how to get guns and you do something about how they use guns.”