Doug Grow is saved from the “distinction” of being the local media’s foremost, most pollyannaish DFL shill only by Lori Sturdevant. He is, literally, a heartbeat away from the title.
And throughout his career, on no issue has Grow been less rooted in rationality than the gun issue. His latest column is a further descent. He writes about a group of mayors – including those of both of the Twin Cities – who want to reverse federal legislation restricting government access to legal gun sale transactions.
Grow writes with his customary German-jazz-band subtlety:
Here’s a brutal example of how all this plays out:
Tuesday night, two Minneapolis men were robbed, then shot and killed. It was a horrid, random crime. To the credit of Minneapolis cops, the suspected assailants were quickly found.
Now, what police would like to know is how the gun ended up in the hands of the young gang banger they believe pulled the trigger.
“Imagine if this was a drug deal,” Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said. “You wouldn’t just want to get the guy buying the drugs on the corner; you’d want to go after the supplier.”
The feds probably have a record as to where the gun originally was bought. But Dolan said his department will be hard-pressed to get it because of the Tiahrt Amendment and the NRA.
“I’d love to pop whoever helped put that gun on our streets,” Dolan said. “Whoever did belongs in prison, too. But the NRA is very powerful.”
Notice what Grow has done; tied the NRA, via a rhetorical back channel, to a murder. Framed the Minneapolis Police Department as plucky underdogs against the big bad National Rifle Association. Implied that the Tiahrt Amendment makes it impossible for the cops to zoom directly in on the gun’s illegal supplier.
What Grow does not do – because it would show a sentient reader that Grow’s case is buncombe – is explain what the “Tiahrt Amendment” really is and really does.
David Kopel explains it all in this excellent piece in NRO. Read it, and remember its details, while reading Grow’s piece. Compare fact and reality. Kopel (who I shall italicize, to distinguish him from Grow) writes:
the appropriations bill reinforces existing provisions in federal and local gun laws prohibiting the release of those records that are allowed to be kept on gun owners. Federal law requires that dealers inform federal law enforcement any time a person purchases two or more handguns in a 5-day period. Current law requires the federal government to keep private the names of lawful purchasers.
In other words, the Tiahrt Amendment protects the law-abiding gun owner from government surveillance and harassment.
Which is the sort of thing the typical anti-NRA shill will dance about and call “paranoid”, and which a cursory look at the record shows clearly is not:
In early 2003, the Supreme Court was on the verge of hearing a case involving the city of Chicago’s attempt to obtain the name of every multiple handgun purchaser in the United States. After the case had been briefed, but before oral arguments, Congress passed an appropriation with a very specific prohibition on the release of purchaser names. In light of the appropriation language, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts. (For details on the law and the case, see my article in ABA Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases.)
Oh, yeah – and lest you were in doubt, Grow’s thesis – that the Tiahrt Amendment hampers law-enforcement – is hogwallow:
Sometimes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) traces a particular gun at the request of law enforcement. The trace may involve an attempt to find the owner of a stolen gun, or to learn more about a gun seized from a criminal, or it may involve a gun seized for a paperwork offense (such as failure to register the gun in some jurisdictions). BATFE traces can be useful in some cases, but they are not representative of the broad universe of guns used in crime — as Gary Kleck and I have explained.The appropriations bill requires BATFE to disclose the necessary caveats in published summaries of firearms trace data — thus preventing BATFE from using trace summaries to push a political agenda, as it did during the Clinton years.
In other words – Doug Grow’s mewling aside – the Tiahrt Amendment requires law enforcement to follow due process in getting the records of law-abiding gun owners.
It wouldn’t be a
Doug Grow Strib column on guns if there weren’t a fawning reference to some astroturf group of “anti-NRA gun owners” to complement the cartoonish facade of the NRA:
There is a new organization trying to rationally represent the interests of gun owners who are as perplexed by some NRA positions as the rest of us are. The American Hunters and Shooters Association, founded by former pro football player Ray Schoenke, is working with the mayors and police chiefs in trying to eliminate such bloody pieces of gun law as the Tiahrt Amendment.
“We’re just trying to do common-sense things,” said Schoenke, who once ran for governor of Maryland.
Common sense is a direct threat to the NRA, so Schoenke’s 18-month-old organization is being targeted.
Let’s stop right there.
Grow states this – or, to be accurate, parrots Schoenke’s statement – with not a jot of background for the reader. Apparently he assumes his word is good enough.
And he has to hope so, since the facts certainly gut his thesis to the bone.
But 180 mayors aren’t giving up. They keep pointing to a stunning stat: 30,000 people in the country are killed each year by firearms.
Unstated; how many of them are killed by people who are not involved in the drug trade, or have criminal records and/or histories of chemical or mental impairment, or are suicides (which is tragic and a totally separate issue).
Also unstated: that every year, firearms are used between 80,000 (FBI estimate) and 1.2 million (Gary Kleck’s estimate) times to deter, repel or kill criminals in the act, over 80% of the time without a shot being fired, and with over 1,000 criminals killed in legal self-defense per year.
When Doug Grow talks about guns, it’s always the interesting stuff that gets left out.