If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Spin ‘Em : After Opposing Manchin-Toomey and Sinking in Polls, Senator Ayotte now says ‘I Voted to Improve Background Checks’
Actually, Ayotte voted to worsen background check system, make it easier for the dangerously mentally ill to get a gun
Pop Quiz: You’re a party-line-toeing politician on the ropes for defying the wishes of 89% of the people you were elected to represent. You just voted to keep the gun show loophole wide open for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to exploit and the gun makers to profit from. You’re now down 15 points in the polls and finding yourself confronted at town halls by incensed citizens whose families were shattered by gun violence. What do you do now? What – do – you – do?
If you’re Senator Kelly Ayotte, the answer is simple: just start disingenuously telling people you voted to improve background checks and hope they buy it. See Ayotte’s May 6 op-ed: ‘I Voted to Improve Background Checks.’
There’s just one problem: not only did she NOT vote to ‘improve’ the background check system, she actually voted to make it easier for the dangerously mentally ill to get a gun and to make it harder to stop gun traffickers. SEE MAIG FACT SHEET below on the Grassley-Cruz bill Ayotte refers to when she claims she “voted recently to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).”
Ayotte goes on in her op-ed to trash Manchin-Toomey, the bipartisan bill that would actually be effective at keeping more guns out of dangerous hands: “We shouldn’t be expanding a flawed system.” Ayotte neglects to mention that -- under the current system she deems flawed -- “since 1998 the F.B.I. has rejected more than a million would-be sales, and when state-level rejections are factored in the number of denials is closer to two million — usually because the would-be buyers are convicted felons, or fugitives from justice, or mentally ill, among other reasons,” according to the New York Times.
That’s nearly 2 million guns that were kept out of the wrong hands under the current system. Lives were been saved under Ayotte’s ‘flawed system’. In fact: In states that require a background check for private handgun sales, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners; in states that require background checks for all handgun sales, there are 17% fewer firearm aggravated assaults.
Given the facts, it’s obvious that closing the gun show/internet loophole and subjecting more of the millions of guns sold anonymously each year to background checks would keep more guns out of the hands of criminals and save more lives. That’s common sense and logical. But Senator Ayotte glosses over the clear reduction in gun violence that would result from expanded background checks and says we should instead ask the law enforcement community to spend an enormous resources and time they will never have chasing after everyone that was stopped from getting a gun by the background check. It’s a classic example of not seeing the forest for the trees.
The Grassley-Cruz Bill Undermines Public Safety
Bottom Line: The Grassley-Cruz Bill does nothing to close the gaping loophole that allows criminals to buy guns without background checks. Meanwhile, the bill makes it easier for the seriously mentally ill to get guns and harder for the federal government to stop gun trafficking. A vote for Grassley-Cruz is not an acceptable substitute for a vote for Manchin-Toomey.
Grassley-Cruz would leave the private sale loophole wide open, while the Manchin-Toomey Amendment would narrow this deadly gap and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the seriously mentally ill.
Ø Each year, 6.6 million guns are sold without a background check. The Manchin-Toomey Amendment extends the existing background check system to cover all sales in commercial settings, including at gun shows, online and in classified ads.
Ø Background checks impose little burden on lawful private sellers and they save lives. States that have gone beyond federal law and closed the private sale loophole have had dramatic results: In states that require background checks for all handgun sales, there are 38 percent fewer women shot to death by intimate partners and there is 48 percent less gun trafficking.
Ø Grassley-Cruz would do nothing to address this problem.
Grassley-Cruz would actually make it legal for seriously mentally ill people to buy guns and would weaken the gun background check database.
Ø Make it legal for the seriously mentally ill to buy guns: Grassley-Cruz would undermine public safety by effectively eliminating longstanding prohibitions on gun possession by the seriously mentally ill, including those who have been involuntarily committed to psychiatric hospitals and those who have been found to lack the mental capacity to manage their affairs.
Ø Weaken the gun background check system (NICS): By eliminating certain categories gun prohibitors and significantly narrowing others, this bill would invalidate millions of mental health records currently in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Grassley-Cruz would make it harder for the federal government to stop gun traffickers. Grassley-Cruz strips the federal government’s authority to require dealers in border states to report multiple sales of assault rifles, halting a successful ongoing program that curbs gun trafficking along the border. Grassley-Cruz also fails to give law enforcement a useful tool to go after straw purchasers and gun traffickers.
Ø Rather than creating an enforceable straw purchasing crime, Grassley-Cruz simply reiterates existing law and places an exacting burden of proof of law enforcement officers trying to punish and deter straw purchasers.
Ø And rather than giving law enforcement the critical tools it needs to break up trafficking rings and stem the tide of illegal guns, Grassley-Cruz requires proof that the trafficker knew that the recipient was prohibited or would use the gun to commit a violent crime. Requiring knowledge makes this provision nearly indistinguishable from current law which already penalizes the knowing transfer of a gun to a recipient that is prohibited or would use the gun to commit a violent crime.
Ø By contrast, the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013 would create new and enforceable federal crimes for both straw purchasing and illegal gun trafficking.