Some of us on social media try to follow a simple rule in the wake of events like Sunday’s church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. You should wait at least 24 hours before commenting on any policy ramifications from such an act of evil.
In the aftermath of an attack in a town of less than 1,000 people that left 26 dead, half of which were children, many broke that rule.
Many people–frequently on the left–had to get in their hot takes. First, it was the NRA’s fault, or it was Republicans who were to blame. (Never mind the fact that one of the men who stopped the shooter was an actual NRA instructor.)
Then, there were attacks on those who find comfort in prayer. “How dare you pray! Prayer does not do anything, only government does!”
As with similar events, those calling for more gun control were single-minded in their convictions. They did not know the right questions to ask, but they knew that gun control was the answer.
It was then revealed that the shooter had been court-martialed while in the Air Force for assaulting his wife and child. As a result, he was given a bad conduct discharge for domestic violence. This was mis-reported by some outlets as a dishonorable discharge. Even after the report was corrected, the facts were the same: the shooter should not have possessed a weapon. Federal law still prohibits those who have “been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” from owning fire arms.
Basic research could have informed those pushing for additional gun control they are once again advocating for redundant laws. Despite what Jeff Flake says, there is no “domestic violence loophole.”
Federal law clearly prohibited the shooter from obtaining a firearm. He had also been denied a permit in Texas, so how did he obtain his gun? The short answer is that the Air Force had a monumental bureaucratic screw up. An Air Force statement on the matter reveals in part that the shooter’s “domestic violence offense was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database by the Holloman Air Force Base Office of Special Investigations.”
In other words, the reason the shooter was able to acquire his firearm was not because of NRA-backed Republicans or lax federal or red state regulations, but because of a federal bureaucracy.
The Air Force has a lot of explaining to do as to why he was not entered into the database. It should also probably explain why beating your wife and cracking your child’s skull does not merit a dishonorable discharge. Even more damning for the Defense Department is that these kind of lapses have been occurring for 20 years. If you want to propose new laws or regulations, you should start there.
On Sunday afternoon, almost nobody was asking questions about the Air Force or the National Crime Information Center. The overwhelming majority of us had never heard of the NCIC, Holloman Air Force Base or its Office of Special Investigations. This is why investigations take place. However, in the rush to be seen as “doing something” the right questions are not asked.
Perhaps, waiting for the facts to come out would be the best way to conduct public policy in this country. But why do that when we can score easy political points by call our opponents a “sack of sh*t” ?