By Michael Schwartz
The San Diego County Gun Owners political-action committee feels it is shameful that Rep. Scott Peters saw a horrible tragedy like the mass murder in Las Vegas as an opportunity to advance his gun-control agenda.
Americans are mourning, healing and helping. Yet, Peters chose to leverage this tragedy to advance his agenda through a public statement that was published on this website. Our advocacy organization believes this was shameful political opportunism for the following reasons.
Peters talks about “universal background checks” when law enforcement has already confirmed that the murderer in Las Vegas passed a background check. It would not have stopped the horrific events in Las Vegas. If the goal is really improving public safety, why isn’t Peters working with the National Rifle Association, which wants to require reporting of all prohibited persons to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System? “Universal background checks” is nothing but a talking point a mere 24 hours after a national tragedy.
The Justice Department reports that 77 percent of prisoners incarcerated for firearms-related crimes obtained them illegally. Less than 1 percent got firearms at gun shows, meaning that a “universal background check” proposal would not prevent much crime at all.
In a 2012 interview, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican from New Hampshire, said that among “approximately 80,000 people in 2012 that were denied (a gun) because of a background check, only 44 people were prosecuted for that.” Why haven’t Peters and other gun-control advocates in Congress worked with Ayotte to fix this broken system?
Rather than concentrate on real solutions, Peters is focusing on party politics. In 2016, the California Legislature backed a law that would make it a felony to steal a gun, regardless of its value. The law was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat. Here was a law that would truly strengthen law enforcement’s ability to get dangerous criminals off the street, but the state leader of Peters’ political party shot it down.
What happened in Las Vegas happens monthly in the inner-city ghettos of Democrat-controlled Chicago. According to the Chicago Tribune, the city saw 84 murders in June, 76 in July, 50 in August, and 519 total for the year, and yet Democrats remain silent. President Trump has sent help in the form of prosecutors to stop the cause of deadly violence in Chicago: repeat offenders.
Out of respect for those who have lost their lives due to violence from those who commit evil acts, Peters should stop the empty rhetoric and replace it with effective, meaningful action. We implore you and your colleagues to champion measures that go to the root of problems rather than ghoulishly use tragedy for political benefit.
Michael Schwartz is executive director of San Diego County Gun Owners, a registered political action committee focused on organizing the gun industry and community and protecting the Constitution’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.