Republican Hypocrisy Helps Criminals Get Guns

Vector illustration of a semi-automatic handgun with an american flag icon.
Vector illustration of a semi-automatic handgun with an american flag icon.

When it comes to gun regulations Republicans have a lot of concerns. While having your rights restricted is obviously an issue for most Americans, nearly every proposal aimed at reducing gun violence has corresponding Republican-backed legislation that should ease the concerns of the "they're coming to take my guns" crowd.

For example, while Republicans are adamant that requiring an ID to vote will prevent the illegal use of an election ballot while also providing a public record of who voted, they are opposed to forcing every gun sale to meet these same standards. Given that a survey of Chicago prisoners showed that the vast majority of criminals obtained their gun from a friend or family member, the objection to making private sales subject to the rules followed by licensed dealers looks a lot like the NRA is protecting bad guys. Imagine how outraged many of these same people would be if a registered voter were allowed to take a few ballots home for their family and friends and drop them off later without providing any proof that the ballot was filled out by a legal voter.

Many will argue that the law already makes it illegal to sell guns to anyone that isn't allowed to own a firearm. Of course voting twice or stealing someone's identity to cast a vote is also illegal, yet that doesn't stop Republicans from advocating for additional voter ID laws. In fact, those in support of voter ID will argue that statistics showing that voter fraud is nearly non-existent are inaccurate since there is no system for tracking voters. Using this logic it seems that, unless we have a way of tracking private gun sales, the statistics on the number of people knowingly selling guns to individuals that wouldn't pass a background check is likely vastly under reported as well.

Voter ID laws are hardly the only legislation that exposes the hypocrisy of Republicans. Many of the people that argue they need a gun for defensive purposes are some of the same people that support tort reform to prevent doctors from practicing defensive medicine. Much like the gun advocate argument which says that people use their guns to prevent crime, data show that removing defensive medicine by placing caps on damages for doctors "leads to higher rates of preventable adverse patient safety events in hospitals." If defensive medicine and defensive gun use both save lives why are they viewed so differently by some gun advocates?

Another classic gun rights argument is that guns don't kill people -- people kill people. To prove this point they have created a cute little meme that says "left my gun home today; it didn't kill anyone." Given that there are hundreds of accidental gun deaths every year, you could just as easily say "I left my family home without a gun today and no one got shot". But the really odd argument from gun advocates is that violent television and video games are somehow to blame for gun deaths. If this were the case then shouldn't we hear about the mass shootings committed by a Grand Theft Auto disc or a high definition flat screen TV?

Of course the idea is that violent video games desensitize people, making it easier for them to become killers. If this is the case, it should be noted that one of the core methods of desensitizing soldiers is to convince them they are a good guy with a gun and the other guy is a bad guy with a gun. Sound familiar? There is also information available that suggests hunting and killing animals might desensitize people making it easier for them to take a human life. If desensitization is an issue for television and video games then perhaps we should also consider the harm done by some NRA catch phrases, hunting, and shooting ranges on certain individuals.

Those who hold video games accountable for gun violence in the U.S. might also want to consider data that show a small group of gun dealers account for 90 percent of the guns that are used in a crime and recovered by police. Despite this issue, the NRA pushed through legislation that makes it nearly impossible for a victim of a gun crime to sue the crooked dealer that sold the weapon. Holding dealers accountable for the actions of their customers could be considered a slippery slope that might unfairly burden dealers who follow all the rules; however, Republican legislation suggests their concern for gun dealers is somewhat unique.

For example, one of the main thrusts of Republican education reform is to hold teachers responsible for the actions of their students. Despite data that show only 1.5 percent of teachers fit the "bad teachers" meme, Republicans have used this as an excuse to label the entire public education system as a failure. If we applied this logic to gun dealers it would be clear that we need a complete overhaul of how guns are sold in this country.

Republicans also support legislation that holds parents accountable for the actions of their children regardless of whether the parent was present during their child's offense. Additionally, Republicans have done little to offer similar protections for establishments that serve alcohol that are held accountable for the actions of their patrons after they leave.

But perhaps the greatest hypocrisy of Republican legislators regarding restrictions to guns is how they have handled abortions. First, while gun advocates argue against certain gun laws as infringing on privacy, the decision of Roe vs. Wade, which established a woman's right to an abortion, was based on this very same idea of privacy. Second, in spite of the fact that this Supreme Court decision makes an abortion a constitutionally guaranteed right, Republicans have no qualms with adding restrictions on Planned Parenthood and their patients with the goal of eliminating this right. Finally, rather than addressing the root causes of why abortions are necessary, Republicans have focused nearly all of their attention on the people that preform the abortions. If concerns over-criminalizing actions of law-abiding citizens is justification for preventing additional protections on gun sales, then it should be the same justification for protecting the doctors who are performing this legal procedure.

The record indicates that the rationale many Republicans use when they object to legislation that could keep guns out of the hands of criminals exposes a Jekyll and Hyde mentality that is embarrassingly partisan. If Republicans supported the kinds of restrictions for guns that they do for other people and programs we might be able to prevent some of the 32,000 gun deaths that occur in the U.S. every year.