Oy vey...the gun debate is going to make HCR look like a church picnic. By virtue of the technical and constitutional questions involved, there are few issues in which clarity of purpose and precision in language are more important. By that I basically mean any attempts at legislative remedies need to be exceedingly well defined and focused.
Contrast, for example, DiFi's proposed AWB with the bill aiming to limit magazine capacity. One is clean and straightforward, with a chance of success; the other is riddled with vagaries, exceptions and grandfather clauses, appears to violate the constitution, and would likely end up facing legal challenges and injunctions while gun deaths continued apace all the while.
So what is a gun control proponent to do? Push for measures that would actually be effective and could get out of Congress, like DeGette's, or better still, repeal of the Tiahrt amendment language pertaining to gun trace data. If the goal is to keep guns out of the wrong people's hands, there are few things more immediately effective than properly equipping BATF to do its job, like appointing a director, funding the agency, and stop kneecapping BATF's efforts at prosecution.
In 2003, former Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), a recipient of significant NRA support, quietly slipped an amendment into an appropriations bill that suddenly limited public access to ATF crime-gun trace data. These tracing records tended to implicate certain licensed firearms dealers as common source points in supply chains for illegal gun trafficking. Several analyses of trace data, including my own, had shown that 1% of licensed gun dealers was linked to a majority of firearms recovered from criminal enterprises. While most of these traces may have involved legitimate transactions, many unscrupulous merchants were easily flagged.No public release of info greatly hampers the efforts of policymakers to address the problem, but it also hampers BATF's prosecution efforts; how do you back up your legal case if you can't release the pertinent info?
That no funds appropriated under this or any other Act with respect to any fiscal year may be used to disclose part or all of the contents of the Firearms Trace System database maintained by the National Trace Center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or any information required to be kept by licensees pursuant to section 923(g) of title 18, United States Code, or required to be reported pursuant to paragraphs (3) and (7) of such section 923(g), to anyone other than a Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency or a prosecutor solely in connection with and for use in a bona fide criminal investigation or prosecution and then only such information as pertains to the geographic jurisdiction of the law enforcement agency requesting the disclosure and not for use in any civil action or proceeding other than an action or proceeding commenced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or a review of such an action or proceeding, to enforce the provisions of chapter 44 of such title, and all such data shall be immune from legal process and shall not be subject to subpoena or other discovery, shall be inadmissible in evidence, and shall not be used, relied on, or disclosed in any manner, nor shall testimony or other evidence be permitted based upon such data, in any civil action pending on or filed after the effective date of this Act in any State (including the District of Columbia) or Federal court or in any administrative proceeding other than a proceeding commenced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to enforce the provisions of that chapter, or a review of such an action or proceedingPlease call your Senators and tell them to repeal the Tiahrt language and let BATF do its job. It is a very straightforward piece of legislation to draft and would be very effective in keeping guns out of the wrong hands. It would have a high probability of passing, and most importantly, it would actually make a difference.
Being precise in purpose and language is of critical importance at every step along the way of this debate, not just in crafting targeted solutions. As we all know, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics, or to rephrase, there is misinfo, disinfo, and statistics. While statistics are useful when interpreted accurately, misinfo does nothing to add to the convo or solve the problem of (gun) violence.
Because it keeps popping up, I will use as an example this business about how the NRA snuck language into PPACA that prohibits medical professionals from all but saying the word "gun." I specified "misinfo" because it is not my belief that anyone is purposely spinning the information with a specific intent to deceive; this example just really highlights the importance of precision in language, both in sending and receiving.
The words were tucked deep into the sprawling text of President Obama’s signature health-care overhaul. Under the headline “Protection of Second Amendment Gun Rights” was a brief provision restricting the ability of doctors to gather data about their patients’ gun use — a largely overlooked but significant challenge to a movement in American medicine to treat firearms as a matter of public health.That's the opening paragraph of a WaPo article on the subject. It takes until the bottom of page two for them to get around to revealing that the application of this provision is limited to "wellness and prevention programs." Wellness and prevention programs are not a part of routine medical care. Nothing about this provision prevents a doctor or counselor from asking about guns during the normal course of medical treatment.
Here is the relevant tract of the ACA:
‘‘(c) PROTECTION OF SECOND AMENDMENT GUN 24 RIGHTS.—
25 ‘‘(1) WELLNESS AND PREVENTION PROGRAMS.—
26 A wellness and health promotion activity implemented under subsection (a)(1)(D) may not require:
2 the disclosure or collection of any information relating to—
4 ‘‘(A) the presence or storage of a lawfully possessed firearm or ammunition in the residence or on the property of an individual; or
7 ‘‘(B) the lawful use, possession, or storage of
8 a firearm or ammunition by an individual.
here is what subsection (a)(1)(D) is all about:
SEC. 2717. ENSURING THE QUALITY OF CARE.Okay, maybe "wellness programs" aren't so precisely defined, but they are very obviously above and beyond routine medical care.
(b) Wellness and Prevention Programs.--
For purposes of subsection (a)(1)(D), wellness and health promotion activities may include personalized wellness and prevention services, which are coordinated, maintained or delivered by a health care provider, a wellness and prevention plan manager, or a health, wellness or prevention services organization that conducts health risk assessments or offers ongoing face-to-face, telephonic or web-based intervention efforts for each of the program's participants, and which may include the following wellness and prevention efforts:
``(1) Smoking cessation.
``(2) Weight management.
``(3) Stress management.
``(4) Physical fitness.
``(6) Heart disease prevention.
``(7) Healthy lifestyle support.
``(8) Diabetes prevention.
This debate is just too important for the waters to be at all muddy. Who's with me?