In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, every major media outlet save Fox News chose to provide coverage that demonized gun owners and the National Rifle Association. Without fail, guns were made to seem evil and of no good use or purpose. Emotionally laden rhetoric was employed with prejudice to paint anyone affiliated with gun ownership as evil and complicit in the ghastly attack.
Jorge Ramos of Univision has a penchant for taking the gun control narrative to its utmost ludicrous conclusion, and his efforts here are no less valiant. (Full disclosure, I have appeared on his program to discuss the addition of a woman of color to the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” and he was gracious and professional with me during that interview.)
… the purpose of this episode was to demonize gun ownership, so sharing that information would have impeded the false narrative that Republicans oppose common-sense gun laws of any kind.On a recent episode of “Al Punto” (To the Point), Ramos interviewed U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., a gun-hater who predictably launched into a rant laden with untruths. “If someone is a criminal, if someone has mental problems, they should not have access to these weapons,” he said. “These are laws that most of the country supports, but unfortunately these Republicans and the leadership of this Congress, including the president, do not want to establish these kinds of laws.”
In truth, these laws, as he calls them, already exist. However, the purpose of this episode was to demonize gun ownership, so sharing that information would have impeded the false narrative that Republicans oppose common-sense gun laws of any kind. It is a felony to own a gun—or even to possess one—if you are a convicted criminal, and the penalties for such a violation are steep.
Additionally, the Federal “Firearms Transaction Record” asks every person attempting a gun purchase about their mental health: “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?” If the answer is “Yes,” the form directs the purchaser to page 4 under the heading “Question 11.f. Adjudicated as a Mental Defective” wherein the following details cover all bases: “A determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that a person, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease: (1) is a danger to himself or to others; or (2) lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs.” That’s pretty comprehensive, isn’t it?
Criminals don’t obey laws. Once they decide to obtain a firearm, they usually do not risk attempting a lawful purchase …Yet the form isn’t done after those instructions. It also seeks complete and utter clarity on the matter of mental incompetence: “This term shall include: (1) a finding of insanity by a court in a criminal case; and (2) those persons found incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty by reason of lack of mental responsibility.” In other words, if the purchaser answers, “Yes,” to any of the descriptors, no gun will be sold!
Lying on the form carries a penalty, which is outlined in bold type at the top: “Certain violations of the Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. 921 et. seq., are punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and/or up to a $250,000 fine.” The FTR also requires that the firearm dealer complete it in person in his or her own store. This makes it possible for them to assess the purchaser themselves. The FTR is comprehensive, outlines the penalties for non-compliance and is available for any person with an Internet connection to peruse at will. I’m pretty certain that neither Ramos nor his duly elected guest have ever read the FTR, because if they had, they likely couldn’t force their mouths to spew such lies.
Criminals don’t obey laws. Once they decide to obtain a firearm, they usually do not risk attempting a lawful purchase—it’s just so much easier to acquire a gun illegally. We don’t yet know the Las Vegas shooter's motives, as the investigation is ongoing, but what we do know is that there are no new laws that would have prevented him from doing what he did.
As we sadly consider the way forward, voices that seek to demonize law-abiding gun owners should be ignored. Our path forward must be chosen carefully, and emotionally driven diatribes are not helping.
Stacy Washington is a decorated Air Force veteran, Emmy-nominated TV personality and host of nationally syndicated radio program “Stacy on the Right,” based in St. Louis. She loves God and guns, and is a member of the NRA.