On December 14, gun control proponent Gabby Giffords blasted Congress for not enacting California-style background checks following the heinous attack on Sandy Hook Elementary, which happened three years ago.
California has the expanded background checks that Giffords has been pushing at the federal level for three years, and the checks proved impotent to stop the December 2 San Bernardino attack. In fact, Colorado also has expanded background checks, but they were impotent to stop the November 27 Planned Parenthood shooting and the Halloween day shootings in Colorado Springs.
Writing in USA Today, Giffords continued her push for expanding background checks and framed doing so as a way to “[close]… loopholes that allow dangerous people to get guns with no questions asked.”
As another year since the tragedy at Sandy Hook passes, I sometimes struggle to find the hope that has carried me along my path — to Congress and then back from the brink of death after a gunman opened fire on me and my constituents on Jan. 8, 2011.
Because I know that this week, Congress will do exactly what its members have done every week since those 20 kindergartners and first-graders were murdered in their classrooms: nothing at all.
Giffords left out some crucial information. Besides not mentioning that fact that expanded background checks failed to prevent high-profile shootings in CA and CO, she also failed to mention that the gunman who shot her—Jared Loughner—passed a background check for the weapon he used. That is about as stark an example of the impotency of background checks as one can find—the man who attacked the proponent of background checks passed a background check in order to acquire the gun with which he attacked her.
Another thing Giffords failed to mention is that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)—the author of the expanded background check legislation, crafted in the wake of Sandy Hook—admitted his legislation would not have prevented the Sandy Hook attack from happening. The reason it would not have prevented it is because Adam Lanza did not buy his guns. Rather, he stole them.
So, expanded background checks have not stopped high-profile shootings in CA and CO, background checks did not stop Giffords’s own attacker, and Manchin said they would not have stopped the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary. But Giffords is appalled that Congress refused to expand background checks in response to Sandy Hook.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.