In their second debate, Democratic presidential hopefuls appearing Tuesday night in Detroit pushed gun control in reaction to the shooting incident in Gilroy, California, but they called for the same “solutions” and Pete Buttigieg suggested more should be done, only by vaguely stating, “We know what to do, and it has not happened.”
The South Bend, Ind., mayor contended that people want so-called “universal background checks” and a ban on so-called “assault weapons, things like what I carried overseas in uniform that have no business in an American neighborhood in peacetime, let alone anywhere near a school.”
But firearms experts and activists could quickly explain to Buttigieg what’s wrong with his argument. First, the semi-auto allegedly used in the California attack isn’t “like” what he carried overseas, except maybe in appearance, and Sunday’s shooting happened at Christmas Hill Park, not the nearby high school grounds.
Buttigieg also contended that people support red flag laws that are designed to disarm domestic abusers and people with mental health problems.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar and others pointed fingers at the National Rifle Association.
Sen. Bernie Sanders touted his poor grade from the NRA, and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper discussed the shooting at a theater in Aurora.
All of them seemed oblivious to the fact that the mass shooters in California and Colorado passed background checks. The alleged Garlic Festival killer bought his rifle legally in Nevada, brought it illegally into California and violated a “gun-free zone” by apparently cutting through a wire fence to avoid official checkpoints at entrances to the park. The Colorado theater did not allow firearms on its premises.
Perhaps Sanders came closest to candor when he acknowledged, “Nobody up here is going to tell you that we have a magical solution to the crisis.”
But are they limiting themselves to strategies that only penalize law-abiding citizens? Whatever happened to punishing the perpetrators and leaving everyone else alone? That’s a question debate moderators haven’t asked. Why penalize millions of law-abiding gun owners for crimes they did not commit?
Authorities in California have still not determined the motive in Sunday’s shooting that claimed three lives and left 15 others wounded. Alleged gunman Santino William Legan, 19, reportedly had been living in Nevada but was from the Gilroy area originally. He legally purchased the rifle on July 9, according to published reports.
What Democrats did during the first night of the second debate is make it clear they are not afraid to antagonize American gun owners. How that will shake out in 2020 will not be known for more than a year.