Gov. Jerry Brown Friday vetoed a bill drafted in response to mass shootings that would have banned the sale of semi-automatic rifles equipped with detachable magazines — an indication gun grabbers are increasingly lukewarm in their anti-firearms sentiments.
“I am returning Senate Bill 374 without my signature,” Gov. Brown (D-Calif.) says in a statement addressed to members of the California state senate. The ban would have included semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and low-capacity rifles often used for “hunting, firearms training, and marksmanship practice,” says Gov. Brown.
“I don’t believe that this bill’s blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners’ rights.”
Pivotal policy moves like this, taken in the deep-blue state of California, show it’s not firearms that are to blame for gun violence but the people behind guns that are to blame — a reality increasingly embraced by Americans despite a commander-in-chief who refuses to accept that people kill people.
“If we really want to honor these 12 men and women, if we really want to be a country where we can go to work, and go to school, and walk our streets free from senseless violence, without so many lives being stolen by a bullet from a gun, then we’re going to have to change,” President Barack Obama said Sept. 22 during a memorial service for the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shooting.
Perhaps the silver lining in the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case is that few, if any, claim Zimmerman’s gun killed Trayvon, as many of the celebrity and grassroots outcries leaned more toward “justice for Trayvon,” therefore drawing attention away from the anti-Stand Your Ground campaign. With the gun-grabbing red herrings overshadowed in the national discourse regarding the incident, the case was primed for frank discussions regarding race relations in America and the scope of the Second Amendment.
Though perhaps they wouldn’t see eye-to-eye on Stand Your Ground laws, polar-opposite political idealogues New York Times columnist David Brooks and conservative political author Ann Coulter found common ground over aspects of the gun debate, both agreeing the discourse has gone off the tracks in recent years with too much emphasis placed on advancing political agendas rather than getting to the root cause of gun violence.
“The political opportunism occasioned by this tragedy has ranged from the completely irrelevant to the shamelessly irresponsible,” says Mr. Brooks, in an article titled “The Politicized Mind,” of the media response after a mentally ill Jared Loughner opened fire at a Tuscon-area Safeway, shooting then-Sen. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and 17 others, six of them fatally.
The shooting massacres that have happened in quick succession — Fort Hood, Tuscon, Aurora, Newtown — occurred in areas where gun use is heavily regulated and even banned, and consequently have left many Americans desperate for real solutions rather than politically expedient maneuvers masquerading as solutions.
“Looking at guns, looking at video games — that’s starting from the wrong perspective. People who commit spree killings are usually suffering from severe mental disorders. The response, and the way to prevent future episodes, has to start with psychiatry,” says Mr. Brooks in a New York Times article titled “More Treatment Programs.”
Ann Coulter in a number of political columns concurs with her liberal counterpart.
“Whenever a psychopath with a million gigantic warning signs commits a shocking murder, the knee-jerk reaction is to place yet more controls on guns. By now, guns are the most heavily regulated product in America,” Ms. Coulter says in her column “Guns don’t kill people, the mentally ill do.”
“It hasn’t worked.”
Ms. Coulter goes as far as advocating the institutionalization of the mentally ill in a column titled “Ending gun violence requires commitment, not all of it voluntary.”
“If soccer moms want to worry about something, they should worry more about schizophrenics than guns,” Ms. Coulter says.
The task of laying out what that institutionalization looks like and how it’s paid for is a far more daunting responsibility than blanket bans on guns, but exactly the kind of conundrum legislators are paid to tackle.
Carolyn Bolton is content editor for Rare. Follow her on Twitter @carbolton
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