Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It's All About Timing

With a full staff back from vacation (though still under the weather), and everything on the table today from media ethics to the growing damage caused by the sequester, we thought the best use of our time and yours was to focus on timing - specifically, the timing on issues of gun safety legislation.

The NRA lobby, notorious for slow-walking gun safety legislation to its death, once again belatedly trotted out its own plan on Tuesday, a 225-page "school safety" report that may as well have been titled, "Let's Arm Everyone In School Except The Kids" or, even more simply, "Guns For Teachers." The only thing that might be worse than arming all the teachers and school staff everywhere is listening to the NRA in the first place.

It's obvious the NRA's latest document is nothing more than a carefully worded exercise in evading one of the five key components about gun safety we addressed initially last December - that while the media, mental health, economics, and politics are all factors in our national gun violence problem, it's the guns themselves that are the key part of the problem.

One of the other five components of America's continued gun violence problem is our corrupt political system - a system which wasn't always as corrupt as it is now.

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post exposed that reality clearly early Tuesday afternoon when he dug up an old New York Times interview with Senator John McCain from October 2000, along with a television ad of McCain denouncing the private gun seller loophole. Senator McCain, a longtime ally of the NRA, clearly laid out in the 2000 television ad the same problems with the loophole - often called the 'gun show loophole' - which most sensible gun rights supporters agree even today are problems.

The 2000 television ad was designed to help voters in Colorado and Oregon push to pass state laws for background checks on private gun sales, something the Colorado legislature and governor just put into law in their state last month. McCain's October 2000 interview with the New York Times made it obvious that the Senator wasn't just pushing for changes to the laws in Colorado and Oregon though. Indeed, in the Times' piece, McCain claimed that he would push to pass the gun-show bill in Congress in 2001, though history clearly shows McCain did no such thing.

In fact, these days, Senator McCain seems to be trying to time his media appearances so that he doesn't have to face the 2000 version of himself on gun safety.

Not surprisingly, McCain isn't the only one with bad timing.

Asa Hutchinson, the former GOP congressman from Arkansas who presented the NRA's school "plan" midday Tuesday agreed later in the day in a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer that universal background checks would in fact be a sensible idea. Of course, the NRA, in a move as well timed as snowshoes in June, immediately followed up Hutchinson's CNN appearance by saying the former congressman didn't currently speak for them on background checks.

Maybe Hutchison was thinking about a different time. In 1999, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre testified in front of Congress that the NRA supported background checks as "reasonable…  for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone." The NRA even did a massive ad campaign in 1999 in favor of background checks.

The fact is, whatever ridiculous plan the NRA is pushing for today, any American with sense would need another hole in their head if they were to honestly believe that what the NRA - the gun manufacturers' lobby - has to say on guns is going to be anything other than a message to "Buy more guns."

In life, timing is everything.

The gun makers' time to control the message of gun safety has passed. It's long past time Americans enacted sensible gun safety reform.