While Democrats are eager to advocate for pretty much any new gun control law that pops up, or so it seems, Republicans have generally resisted such measures. Not universally by any measure, but by and large, they’re less likely to back gun control bills than their Democratic colleagues.
However, many Republicans point out one of the worst aspects of existing gun control laws, and that’s how they’re not enforced.
Criminals routinely try to purchase guns in violation of federal law, and they’re never prosecuted for it, for example.
In Minnesota, some Republicans in the state are pointing out some other areas of failing enforcement.
Just hours before Margaret Flath’s husband shot and killed her in a domestic dispute two years ago, he had bonded out of jail in Wadena, Minn., on a pending domestic assault charge that barred him from possessing firearms.
Flath’s death was similar to the murder of Julie Hildreth, who was shot outside her local American Legion on the Iron Range in 2015 when her ex-boyfriend turned a hunting rifle on her. He was awaiting sentencing for assaulting her but had not been ordered to turn over his guns, despite a 2014 law that required it.
The two domestic killings underscore a key GOP argument in the intensifying debate over new gun control laws: that Minnesota’s existing firearms laws are not sufficiently enforced.
Facing pressure to hold hearings this fall on Democratic proposals to expand background checks and take guns away from people adjudicated to be dangerous, Republicans in the state Senate are rallying behind calls to toughen penalties for existing laws instead.
Topping their list of targets are seldom-prosecuted laws designed to prevent “straw buyers” from purchasing weapons for others who are ineligible to own guns, as well as laws mandating court hearings to ensure that domestic abusers hand over their guns when ordered by a judge.
“I mean, there’s a whole discussion about passing new gun laws and we can’t even enforce the ones we’ve got on the books — with someone that we know is violent?” said state Sen. Eric Pratt, a Prior Lake Republican who is sponsoring legislation that would require compliance hearings in domestic abuse cases.
This is, of course, completely accurate and you’d think Democrats would be up in arms over this. After all, why have gun control laws if they’re ignored? They should be all over this one, standing arm-in-arm with their Republican colleagues in calling for these laws to be enforced.
Now, I don’t think it would stop them from wanting still more gun control laws, but it would make sense they’d at least want to see the other laws enforced.
They don’t seem to care.
Now, I’m not the kind to think that this is part of some grand conspiracy, that Democrats want these laws to not be enforced because if they were, there’d be no grounds for new laws. That would suggest they cared on some level if these laws were enforced or not. I don’t think they give it that much thought.
Instead, I suspect it’s more a matter of recognizing that the only thing constituents care about is whether or not you’re passing new laws or not. So, Democrats don’t care one way or another about old laws. They want to focus on new proposals so they can win re-election. That’s it.
If they believed these laws would work, why are they not calling for enforcement of the law? People’s lives are at stake, or so we’re told when we oppose a new measure. If that’s true, maybe they should start by making sure the laws on the books are being enforced properly before they start interfering with the rights of good, law-abiding, decent folks to keep and bear arms.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.