Steal the GOP Playbook: Pass Gun Control Laws at the State Level

FILED TO: Politics

bloomberg_state_localA constitutional amendment in North Dakota is one public vote away from banning all abortions regardless of circumstances and without exceptions. It’s the first successfully passed “fetal personhood” amendment in American history, and if it makes it through a referendum process, it will criminalize abortion as murder (the premeditated taking of a “life”) within the borders of North Dakota. The amendment would also restrict some forms of birth control, as well as in vitro fetilization.

What continues to surprise me is how successful far-right, anti-choice activists and politicians have been with blasting away at reproductive rights at the state level. Not a week goes by without hitting an outrageous news item from a random red state that either mandates transvaginal ultrasounds, or that bans abortions after a certain period of time, or that cuts funding for family planning facilities like Planned Parenthood and the like. North Dakota has obviously swung for the fences and it’s this close to the biggest anti-choice victory so far.

Certainly it helps to have three out of every five states controlled by Republican governors, but at this point, the Republicans have all but abandoned the war against privacy and Roe v Wade at the federal level. Instead, they’ve begun to construct a legislative Berlin Wall around these red states, holding women hostage to not-so-small government conservative zealots, most of whom are white males.

Suffice to say, it’s all in serious violation of the U.S. Constitution, but the Republicans don’t care.

So perhaps gun control activists and politicians should engage in a similar process and with similar disregard for the Second Amendment. Democratic Party leaders at the federal level are evidently too timid to take any sort of meaningful action in rolling back the American gun culture, but not at the state level. In fact, too many federal-level Democrats are deliberately timid because, like nearly all Republicans, they’re puppeteered by the National Rifle Association and the congressional-firearms industrial complex.

Even with 90 percent support from the American public, universal background checks barely made made it into the Senate legislation. Again, 90 percent support! And there’s still no guarantee that the Senate bill will survive much less pass through the considerably more crackpot conservative House. And so it appears as if the president’s series of 23 executive orders will be the strongest gun control slate we’ll see — and it’s merely temporary, since the next Republican president, with slimy Wayne LaPierre whispering in his or her ear like Grima Wormtongue, could very easily rescind all of it upon taking office. At that point, we’re back to pre-Sandy Hook status on guns.

The path of least resistance, then, appears to be state-level restrictions on gun ownership — constitutional challenges be damned. California, Washington, New Mexico, Minnesota, Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont have pending gun control legislation in the works since the Sandy Hook massacre. In total 512 new gun control laws have been introduced at the state level, including bold laws like Missouri State Rep. Rory Ellinger’s assault weapons confiscation law. Most recently, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a law that included a ban on high capacity magazines, limiting them to 15, as well as background checks for all firearm sales.

But it’s by no means going to be an easy fight. Sure, 512 newly introduced state-level bills sounds like a fantastic start. Yet the pro-gun complex has introduced 574 bills that augment existing gun laws. Plus, the NRA creepily tracks every single piece of legislation down to the local level, and it’s willing to spend the necessary money to make sure that new gun control laws die quickly and pro-gun laws float into law. If financiers like Michael Bloomberg can continue to seriously ramp up support to match or, dare to dream, surpass the NRA’s efforts, new gun control laws become exponentially more likely. Fortunately, Bloomberg has announced an unprecedented $12 million gun control ad buy in 13 states. This is a major expenditure and it’s doubtful the NRA can match it, which is probably why Wayne LaPierre was on Meet the Press yesterday barely containing his bowel-control while struggling to discredit Bloomberg’s spending.

Just as the congressional process has been infuriatingly slow and ineffectual, I can’t help but to be encouraged what’s happening at the state level, especially given the massive financial support of Bloomberg and the boldness of state legislators to defy the sociopathic will of the NRA and its conspiracy-trolling congregants.

The objective must be to pass the strongest gun control laws possible, then to defend against the constitutional challenges after the fact. Why not give the Republicans a gigantic tidal wave of their own under-the-radar, state-level medicine? If pro-choice, reproductive rights activists will have to spend time and money on legal challenges to the far-right’s anti-choice extremism, then let’s force the far-right to spend the cash on legal challenges to new gun control laws. Fair is fair. Stick it to them. Once again, all politics is state and local, and with an increasingly flaccid Congress, the aphorism is more necessary than ever.


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  • Tbone

    Agreed 100%. It’s funny how those principled defenders of the constitution, like the 10th amendment, suddenly dissappear when it comes to sensible gun regs.

  • kfreed

    We can do both. Colorado just passed three gun control bills and the tea party “baby killers” (two can play that game, Greenwald) are already out collecting signatures to recall the Governor and Senate leader. Not that they’re getting away with it, mind you.

    • Tbone

      that’s funny. As a resident of CO I haven’t heard about any recall efforts. Goes to show you how pathetic their effort looks to be.

      And I thought those principled conservatives don’t like recalls?

  • DirtKicker

    “So perhaps gun control activists and politicians should engage in a similar process and with similar disregard for the Second Amendment.”

    They already are doing that aren’t they? With their “ban everything” mentality they’re just as bad, if not worse that the republicans.

    • BunnyOle

      Exactly. EFFECTIVE gun control is impossible anyway, the only people affected by gun laws are people who do things legally, which is exactly what the governments want. Effectively the US & Europe will be the only countries where law abiding citizens have no access to weapons to protect themselves from the government or other criminals. Guns are illegal in Sweden, but people are shot dead and/or robbed with guns every day. The people using the guns are not Swedes. Apparently they have no problem attaining guns.

      As long as ‘open borders’ mexico exists, mass immigration from corrupt violence infused 3rd world countries & violent criminals are around – the gun crime death toll will remain & even increase. I’m also sick of exaggerated focus on a handful of terrible tragedies perpetrated by people who had access to guns that were owned legally, and zero focus on 10K and more daily crime related gun deaths and zero focus on deaths caused by violence from beatings, knives & other weapons – which is huge. It’s incredibly hypocritical. I guess nobody learned the lessons that the Nazi’s gave about gun control and the real reasons governments enforce them.

  • David Harada-Stone

    Is effective gun control even possible at the state level? Once someone buys a gun in a state with lax or nonexistent controls, there is nothing to stop him or her from transporting it into another state in the trunk of a car. There are no border controls at state lines.

    • Wil Broussard

      Right. State laws might be better than nothing, but we really need to get something done at the federal level to have a chance at making a meaningful difference.

  • Steven Skelton

    Great….now we’ll just all ignore the constitution.

    • Christopher Foxx

      Get your side to stop.

      • Steven Skelton

        I don’t have a side Christopher….but if I did, I wouldn’t support ignoring the constitution because the other side did.

    • Bob Cesca

      Just to clarify, I don’t believe an assault weapons ban or an extended magazine ban violates the 2nd Amendment. The assault weapons ban was constitutional for its 10 year lifespan. The NRA and weak Democrats killed it — not SCOTUS.

      • dbtheonly

        Yes, but what about the Heller case in DC, striking down the DC Gun Control law?
        But I’m with you if we get a SCOTUS that might reverse Heller. Until then we’re wasting time.

        • Bob Cesca

          We can cross the Heller bridge when we come to it. Same approach as the far-right takes on Roe.

          • dbtheonly

            It’s expensive. It’s time consuming. & with Roe, the RW feels they have a chance for a reversal. (& with 6 Roman Catholics on the SCOTUS, they may be right.)

  • disqus_A0bdLZESUf

    Ive only hear of one person i spoke with that is for the gun control don’t believe the 90% is true at all. Thats a big lie to try and change peoples position on the bi;;.

    • MontanaSid

      Unfortunately I think you are right. I live in Montana and you do not dare speak about it.

      • kfreed

        Well, maybe not in public for fear of getting blown away.

    • kfreed

      Obviously you run with the wrong crowd.


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