VAWA Vote Reveals the Right’s Priorities

You’d think passing a law aimed at protecting women from domestic violence would be a no-brainer. Anyone convicted of domestic violence shouldn’t have a gun. Right?

But that’s not how the Right sees it. When the law came up for renewal earlier this year, 157 Republican members of Congress voted, “No.”

That’s right. Of 197 Republicans in the House, only 33 voted to offer women continued protection from domestic violence. One voted “present.” All the rest said “no” to shielding women from violence.

How could the Right oppose such a common-sense measure? That’s a good question. And you should know the answer.

Who Thinks It’s a Good Idea for Convicted Criminals to Own Guns?

VAWA – the Violence Against Women Act – came up for renewal this year. Republicans tried to attach a short-term extension to a spending bill. The Democrats were having none of it.

Primarily because House members on the left wanted some changes. Including extending the ban on gun ownership to those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse. And closing the infamous “boyfriend loophole.”

The original law banned gun ownership by spouses convicted of domestic violence. But it didn’t specifically include romantic partners outside of marriage.

So, a boyfriend might be convicted of domestic violence, but that didn’t ban him from owning a gun.

These dangerous back-door attempts at gun regulation spurred the NRA (National Rifle Association) to action. They publically opposed the bill. And they let members of Congress know they were watching – and rating – members’ votes.

Yup. The NRA sees denying guns to convicted criminals as a violation of their rights. Because, after all, their crime was “just” a misdemeanor.

But this shouldn’t surprise us. Because the NRA seems to do all they can to keep guns in the hands of convicted criminals.

A History of Idiotic Opposition

It’s the 21st Century. Computers rule. We’ve digitized virtually everything.

Want to know the price of real estate in Castleford, Idaho? Well, I found five homes currently for sale in this tiny town (under 300 residents). Prices range from $64K to $750K.

How about the national dish of Cambodia? It’s Amok trey – a coconut curry dish made with fish.

The oldest known ancestor of the cockroach? According to Yale Scientific, it dates back some 235 million years.

Everything is online today – and searchable within seconds. Except a database of U.S. gun sales.

Because, you see, the NRA opposes matching gun sales to individual buyers. So our beloved Congress made it illegal for the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) to create such a database.

According to former ATF agent David Chipman, “The gun lobby has been very successful at keeping the ATF as inefficient as possible.” Case in point: The ATF’s budget has barely moved in a decade, while other law enforcement agencies have seen substantial increases.

The NRA also opposed an Obama executive order blocking gun sales to the mentally ill. Just because you’re mentally incompetent, they argued, doesn’t mean you’re dangerous. President Trump obligingly reversed the Obama order in 2017.

The executive order kept guns out of the hands of those mentally incapable of holding a job or managing their Social Security benefits. Just exactly the sort of people you’d want to own assault rifles.

The NRA also lobbies for restrictive “riders” in the ATF budget. These riders typically restrict how the agency can spend its money. Mother Jones magazine reports the NRA characterized the 2011 riders as “Twelve Big Wins for Gun Owners.”

And, in 2013, Mother Jones notes the ATF’s funding document contained ten times more lines devoted to restrictive riders than to the budget itself.

In other words, the NRA consistently lobbies against a key law enforcement agency. And the law-and-order Right plays right along.

America Has to Wake Up

Columbine… Sandy Hook… Marjory Stoneman Douglas… Pulse… Riverside… Pittsburgh.  As the body count piles up, the NRA – and their servants in Congress – stubbornly resist any common-sense gun control.

In October 2017, a lone gunman – armed with multiple semi-automatic weapons – killed 58 people. And caused over 850 injuries.

It took the government more than a year to ban “bump stocks” – after-market devices that effectively turned his semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons.

“Build parties” across the country let you assemble untraceable AK-47 assault rifles. And a minimal adjustment turns these “ghost guns” into automatic weapons. Technically, it’s mostly within the law, if just barely.

On the NRA’s side? Paranoia. They’ve been warning, “Uncle Sam is coming for your guns,” for years.

Meanwhile, loopholes in our gun laws let people to buy large numbers of guns… and sell them to crooks. They let criminals buy guns at gun shows. Or from private citizens. Because these sales “fall through the cracks.”

Closing these loopholes would be safe and simple. But the NRA continues to fan the flames of paranoia.

Universal background checks would only keep guns out of the hands of crooks… but the NRA sees them as a threat.

The NRA’s position supports gun ownership for the mentally unstable, criminals, and terrorists. All in the name of the 2nd Amendment.

But I’m going to take a wild guess here and say our Founding Fathers never intended for firearms to be readily available to these groups.

Universal background checks… blocking gun sales to the mentally incompetent… adequately funding the ATF. These aren’t radical ideas.

But, as long as politicians on the right are beholden to the NRA, they may be unachievable.

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Davis, S., “House Passes Bill Protecting Domestic Abuse Victims; GOP Split Over Gun Restrictions,” npr.com. Apr 4, 2019.

“Castleford ID Real Estate,” Zillow.com. Apr 7, 2019.

Kaile, “Recipe: The National Dish of Cambodia – Amok Trey,” ingredientmatcher.com. Nov 8, 2015.

Olson, A., “How Old Are Cockroaches?” Yale Scientific. Sep 15, 2018.

Gorman, M., “Trump Overturns a Mental Health Regulation on Gun Purchases,” Newsweek.com. Feb 15, 2017.

“How the NRA Hobbled the ATF,” Mother Jones Magazine. Feb 11, 2013.

Johnson, K., “Millions of firearms records languish at National Tracing Center,” USAToday.com. Oct 26, 2015.

“2017 Las Vegas shooting,” Wikipedia.com. Apr 6, 2019.

Schatz, B., “I Built This AK-47. It’s Legal and Totally Untraceable.,” Mother Jones Magazine. May 23, 2013.