It's curious to see the sudden flip in the right-wing narrative on stronger gun laws, now that one such law, weak compromise though it may be, has the prospect of improving our safety. Media Matters notes this shift at Fox, as they seem more interested now in talking about mass shootings -- complaining that the latest background check proposal won't help with that.
It will, of course, but that's almost beside the point, as the right-wingers lash out at the families from Newtown, calling them human shields, telling them to shut up already. Loathsome, if typical rhetoric for them. As they try to reframe the debate over background checks, however, keep in mind their opposition to the proposal banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, arguably tailor-made to address the problem of mass shootings and the slaughterers' weapons of choice.
Over at Media Matters, countering the Fox shift to focus on mass shootings almost seems too easy for them. This is the Fox response to the initial vote to defeat a Republican filibuster threat:
In response, Fox News ran a segment premised on the idea that background checks are largely unnecessary because they would not have prevented Adam Lanza and other recent mass shooters from acquiring the guns they used.Fox may be counting on the people to have already put the assault weapons ban out of their minds, but I haven't. Its prospects aren't entirely hopeless, yet. But Republicans, the NRA, and their pals over at Fox are why a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, ideas that also address the problem of mass shootings, aren't under consideration right now. They're wrong about the effectiveness of background checks. But they are also being disingenuous about their sudden interest in mass shootings. After complaining mightily about the proliferation of handguns and how banning assault weapons would be ineffective for that problem, the right wing now takes up the opposite tack and complains mightily about assault weapons. A problem they are on the record, dismissing it.
In fact, the loophole in federal law that allows prohibited persons to buy firearms without undergoing a background check has resulted in mass shootings. In October 2012, a shooting at a Wisconsin spa left three dead and four wounded. The Associated Press reported that the alleged shooter purchased a handgun from a private seller without a background check, and obtained the weapon two days after becoming the subject of a restraining order that required him to turn over all weapons to a county sheriff.
Other mass shootings in which shooters obtained their weapons from private individuals rather than licensed firearm dealers include the September 2011 shooting at a Nevada IHOP, which left 4 dead and 7 wounded, and the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, which left 13 dead and 21 wounded.
It's clear that their only real interest is in defeating these measures to introduce stronger gun laws.
Media Matters also notes how Fox mouthpieces are busily attacking the families of Newtown for speaking up. Their effectiveness at changing minds proven, with the example of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)...
Meeting with Newtown families this afternoon, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told them, “I’m a parent and a grandfather, and I had to do something.” He spoke slowly, pausing between words as he choked back tears. “I had to do something.”...naturally, the Fox response is to tell these people to be quiet.
Speaking to the families, Manchin said, “I can assure you we’re protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners, the same as we’re trying to prevent lawbreakers and people who aren’t mentally capable of having a gun, it does both.” He added that he is not worried about how this will affect his NRA “A” rating. “I would ask my friends at the NRA – take our bill, put it online and let NRA members like myself vote on it. Let them vote and see where they would be. ”
On April 11, Fox News host Sean Hannity called the effort to strengthen gun laws "naked exploitation of dead children and grieving families," while his guest Ann Coulter said that Democrats are "play[ing] with these victims." The previous night, Hannity stated that the president "is once again using families of tragedy as props for his agenda." Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said on his April 11 radio show that Obama is "using the Newtown families to push for background checks." Fox News White House reporter Ed Henry similarly said on April 9 that "for the second straight day, the White House used the victims of the Newtown tragedy to make their case." On his April 9 radio show, Fox News host Mike Huckabee suggested that taking some of the relatives of the Newtown shooting victims to Washington, DC on Air Force One to make their case for stronger gun laws was "an exploitation of those parents."They also have a new clip of Rush Limbaugh referring to the Newtown parents as "human shields" being used by Democrats. But the message is clear; these folks are trying to take the tragedy they've experienced and make some good come from it, and the right wing fringe is having none of it. The NRA had already crossed the line back in March when they started robo-calling in Newtown against stronger gun laws. Now their comrades in arms are joining in the attack, and it's disgraceful.
This is all we can expect of the right wing, however. That and further attempts to filibuster the law when another opportunity arises, and more poison pills.
The last time — late in the Clinton administration — the bill eventually fell victim to attacks from both sides. After passing the Senate with a tie-breaking vote by then-Vice President Al Gore, it failed in the House, where amendments left it too weak in the eyes of gun control advocates, but still too tough for gun rights supporters to accept.I came across this LA Times story through the NRA, so it's a safe bet that this sort of thing will be their next move. While Wayne LaPierre goes out in public and draws fire for his bombast, the NRA is familiar with the legislative process and well acquainted with its abuse. That's why the only actual new gun laws since Newtown are a handful of sneaky little legislative riders tacked on to the latest continuing resolution, NRA-approved measures to protect crooked gun dealers and to interfere further with the work of the ATF.
Gun rights advocates plan a similar strategy this time. Their goal, according to Senate officials, is to try to draw out the debate on amendments and offer a number of measures that would expand gun owners' rights. Democrats running for reelection next year in conservative states will feel the need to back many of those amendments, opponents of the measure hope, and if enough of them pass, liberal gun control advocates will turn against the bill.
We'll be lucky if this latest compromise emerges from the Senate intact, and if it does, no doubt the families from Newtown will have played a part -- and that's why the right wing would like nothing more than to shut them up.