Background Checks, Terrorists & the Constitution

capitolThe unconventional reaction to the  conventional way Congress responded to the Orlando Massacre has placed the Second Amendment in the middle of this year’s Presidential, Senate, and House campaigns. Protesting the “Moment of Silence”, the 15 hour quasi-filabuster in the Senate and the unprecedented 25 hour sit-down strike in the House were the firecrackers that woke up millions of frustrated Americans.

The Democratic Congressional  reactions were  bolstered by polls showing that the public overwhelmingly approves of background checks and disarming terrorists, which were the issues that the four defeated Senate bills tried to strengthen. Usually  low-keyed when discussing the Second Amendment, the Democratic Representatives found collected voices and Americans now have hope that some changes might be forth coming.


Background Check data

The Chicago Tribune reported Illinois’ Lake County Sheriff John Buncich’s reaction to the Senate’s vote on the proposed laws:

“My God, don’t these people read newspapers? If you’re a gun-toting, law-abiding citizen, you have nothing to worry about, but we’re talking about putting restrictions on people who have no regard for human life, whether they’re domestic gangbangers or foreigners looking to harm people.”

Why did the Senate not approve of the proposed bills? Our congressman, Rep. Tom Reed, summarized the GOP justification so well:

“We should not curtail citizens’ constitutional rights because of a terror attack.” –Rep. Tom Reed (MPN, June 23)

The problem with that statement, and Rep. Reed know this, is the proposed laws would not “curtail citizens’ constitutional rights”.

Reed also knows:

  •  that federal courts have decreed that local municipalities, including New York State with the SAFE and Connecticut with the Assault Weapons Ban, can regulate certain firearms
  • that the Supreme Court, even our conservative Supreme Court, has refused to rule on the lower courts’ decisions in those and other cases, therefore making the lower courts decisions the law in their federal districts
  • the Federal Courts (including the Supreme Court) look at two factors when considering  if the type of firearms being questioned are constitutional– 1) if the firearm is in “common use” and 2) if it is used for “lawful purposes” ( In 2008’s D.C. v Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that certain hand guns meant both standards–they were in common use and  they were mainly use for personal protection, was is legal. In other cases they  found that assault weapons are not commonly owned, and their purpose, mass killing, is not a legal act, and therefore unconstitutional.
  •  the Second Amendment gives the government the right to regulate.

Background checks are constitutional. What is not fair is that all Americans do not have to have them to purchase firearms. The state you live in and the place you buy the firearms will trigger if you get a background check or not. About 40 per cent of the people who receive firearms (through a purchase or a transfer) firearms do not have to have a background check. 40 percent!?”‘;’

The GOP’s complaint about using the No Fly List sounds like it has merit–those on the list are never informed that they are on it, and people have been incorrectly placed on it.   Those deemed as terrorists should be able to appeal that decision.

The obvious question is why doesn’t Congress fix the No Fly List problems. Conservative  Joe Scarborough aggressively asked Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) just that question. The short answer from Cole is that the No Fly List is an Executive Branch operation and the House has no say in how it is organized. Morning Joe disagrees. He points out that the House controls the purse strings and if the GOP leaders really want to make the List stronger, they would.  Even though I gave the short answer, I feel the five-minute video below is worth watching to see Rep. Cole trying to defend his party’s actions.

Besides trying to convince the public that all gun laws are unconstitutional, the real reason the Senate voted down the four proposed bills is the NRA. They control the legislative branch of our government.  According to the Washington Post, Rep. Reed has received $10,950 from the NRA which more than any other NYS Representatives. No wonder Rep. Reed incorrectly declares the laws “curtail citizen constitutional rights.”

Was the events in Congress last week a flash in the pan, or will the leaders continue to force the debate? These events already triggered two demonstration supporting stricter gun laws at Rep. Reed’s offices. One was in Corning and one in Ithaca; both were last Friday (June 24).  Both had between 25 and 30 participants.  The Ithaca event was covered by at least two news organizations, The Ithaca Journal and The Ithaca Voice.  The Corning event earned a post on WENY-TV’s Facebook page. I understand that others are being planned at different  offices around the district.

For some reason, I don’t think this debate is over.

About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
This entry was posted in 2016, Congress, Constituents, Gun Violence and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Background Checks, Terrorists & the Constitution

  1. ctb11365 says:

    You now can take into consideration today’s announced Supremes decision allowing Maine to bar a convicted (misdemeanor) Domestic Abuser from obtaining or owning a firearm. That decision leads inexorably to background checks, I believe. How can you prevent a sale if you do not have a check? Reed is on the wrong side of a rapidly shifting public opinion. (no surprise there)

    Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2016 00:49:24 +0000 To:


  2. Deb Meeker says:

    “We should not curtail citizens’ constitutional rights because of a terror attack.” –Rep. Tom Reed.
    Would Tom Reed approve of open or concealed carry in schools his children attend, bars, churches, or the Republican National Convention? How about at his town hall meetings? Let him say that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: A look at Rep. Reed’s Proposed Bills | New NY 23rd

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