December 10, 2009

E.J. Dionne Gets His Stupid On

It is usually so depressingly easy to pick apart the pro forma op-eds from Washington Post columnist E.J Dionne that it isn't any fun at all to make the effort, but since his latest, Beyond the NRA's absolutism, is pre-demolished by an article I already wrote last week and the effort is minimal, I may as well go ahead and make the effort.

Dionne complains that a survey of the National Rifle Association's membership found that members polled by Frank Luntz actually went against the NRA's official position on a number of issues.

In his survey of 832 gun owners, including 401 NRA members, Luntz found that 82 percent of NRA members supported "prohibiting people on the terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns." Sixty-nine percent favored "requiring all gun sellers at gun shows to conduct criminal background checks of the people buying guns," and 78 percent backed "requiring gun owners to alert police if their guns are lost or stolen." Among gun owners who did not belong to the NRA, the numbers were even higher.

On the surface and without reflection, these all superficially sound like reasonable ideas and I completely understand why most people would agree.

But if you take away someone's right to purchase a firearm for being on a terrorism watch list, you just tipped off that potential terrorist that he is under investigation. You've just helped the terrorist. The counterpoint of that, that civil libertarians have been harping on since early in the prior administration, is that these lists are wildly inaccurate, with even Senators being erroneously tagged a s terrorists in federal lists. Compound that with the fact Americans hate to see a citizen's rights denied without the due process of law, and you have a host of very good reasons for the NRA to dig deeper and oppose an idea that sounds good as a theory, but which is horrible in practice.

Likewise, while I would like to see all gun sellers at gun shows be required to follow the laws that FFL dealers do, including requiring a NICS background check, I know that such restriction would be a fig leaf. Non-dealers would still be able to sell guns outside of the show with no restrictions at all, and no felon would be significantly inconvenienced.

And while I would certainly hope that a citizen would report a stolen weapon, I find the idea of the government compelling citizens to report stolen property of any kind offensive, and I fail to see what reporting a gun as stolen with have any impact on what the criminal does with a stolen gun. It is—again—a law that enables politicians to claim they "did something" without any real benefit.

But what really amuses me about Dionne's whining column is when he shows the innocence of a child—one not burdened with being academically gifted—when he bleats propaganda from the front group, Mayors Against All Guns.

NRA members also oppose the idea behind the so-called Tiahrt amendments passed by Congress. Named for Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), the rules prevent law enforcement officials from having full access to gun trace data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and require the FBI to destroy certain background-check records after just 24 hours. Talk about handcuffing the police.

The mayors' poll offered respondents this statement, antithetical to the Tiahrt rules: "The federal government should not restrict the police's ability to access, use, and share data that helps them enforce federal, state and local gun laws." Among NRA members, 69 percent agreed.

As it turns out, the group—largely self-financed by anti-gun New York RINO Michael Bloomberg—blatantly lies about the Tiahrt Amendment, and what it does, while also obfuscating the fact that the BATF and Fraternal Order of Police want the law kept in place to protect the lives of police officers and informants.

I'm having a hard time to find who is more repulsive here. Is it Dionne for his intellectual laziness, or Bloomberg for his continued dishonesty?

It's a big world.

I think we have the space to revile them both.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at December 10, 2009 12:24 PM

Here's an idea for Mr. Dionne:

People on terrorist watch-lists should be prohibited from flying, except under the direct supervision of an air marshal.

Something tells me that would be going too far for Mr. Dionne.

Posted by: Lurking Observer at December 10, 2009 01:39 PM

Senators have been tagged on terrorist lists? Isn't that a bit redundant?

Posted by: Tim at December 10, 2009 04:28 PM

EJD is a joke.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at December 11, 2009 03:41 AM

I would be willing to bet that *every* one of those questions was specifically worded as to push the agenda of the gun-grabbers. You don't get numbers that high without some severe warping of the question.

Posted by: Georg Felis at December 13, 2009 06:40 PM