Congresswoman Toothache Back In Action

Carol Shea-Porter After a two-year respite, I am once again represented by Carol Shea-Porter in the U.S. House of Representatives. During her previous tenure in that position (2007-2011) she developed a government-worshipping voting record, and was often accused of being an Obama/Pelosi sock puppet. (Which, at times, she was honest enough to admit.) Her public pronouncements invariably contained heavy doses of cluelessness, arrogance, self-righteousness, fuzzy-mindedness, and condescension. When she lost in 2010, she blamed the Chinese.

In short, she was both a constant irritant and an embarrassment.

And now, thanks to the wisdom of my fellow NH-01 voters, she's back at work. Last week she made her thoughts on gun control available to the media. Her column, titled "Time for action against violence", is also available at her government-provided website. Let's take a look! Her words are on the left, my annotation on the right.

As I write this column, the news is covering still another shooting, this time on a college campus. We will learn who was involved, who was standing where when it happened, who witnessed it, who was hurt, who are the hurt people’s friends and families. Students – reportedly 10,000 students attend the college – will say how terrified they were. And then, the story of this shooting will be dropped from the news cycle, only to be replaced by another shooting story. And Americans will wonder why we can’t seem to stop the violence. Or can we? Carol's talking about a January 22 incident at a campus of Lone Star College in Houston. And she's at least partially right: national media have since entirely lost interest in the story. It doesn't fit the crazed mass-shooter scenario that they prefer. Nobody was killed; it was (apparently) a shoving match that escalated; the shooter (allegedly) had a criminal background (as did the primary victim) and was already violating some laws by owning and carrying the gun on the college campus.

But all that's irrelevant to Carol's purpose here: to instill a general fear and dread in her readers.

When the children and teachers were executed in a mass murder at Sandy Hook elementary school right before Christmas, and while we were talking about love and faith and family and peace, everyone thought that this time, politicians would take action. Time to play the Sandy Hook card.

Love and faith and family and peace—all good things! And Carol's for them! Yay!

Carol is (apparently) surprised that politicians did not immediately steamroll through panicky, ill-considered legislation within days. She seems to be saying: hey, that's what I would have done,

It did seem for awhile that we had reached our breaking point, and we would finally be ready to pass responsible gun legislation that would give us the freedom to hunt and protect our families, and the freedom to go about our daily lives without fear of being gunned down in yet another act of violence. Carol manages to be both childishly optimistic and deeply offensive.

Offensive in that she thinks that a proper role of government is to "give us" freedoms that it deems us fit to have.

Childlishly optimistic in her faith in magical pixie-dust legislation will somehow eradicate people's "fear of being gunned down". (If you didn't actually have that fear, Carol reminds us: you were supposed to.)

There was encouraging talk about passing legislation as quickly as possible, and President Obama did sign some executive orders with the families of the murdered 6- and 7-year-olds and the slain staff in the room. Professional writing note: Slain staff were not actually in the room.
The fight was already ugly, but that's where it got uglier. The head of the National Rifle Association said Obama was "attacking firearms and ignoring children." There was a sea of outrage that Obama had children at the event. A number of people have pointed out how shamelessly manipulative and demagogic Obama's staged event was. It was a cold-blooded effort to use a nation's grief to short-circuit rational deliberation. Carol thinks it's somehow "ugly" to point that out?

If you only want to see a "sea of outrage" directed at Obama's disgusting theatrics, well, then, that's all you'll see. But there was plenty of rational opposition directed at the proposals themselves.

Children were at the site of the massacre - I think it is appropriate that children who knew it happened and wrote about it should be in the room when grown-ups say we are going to try to stop this from happening again to children, or anyone else. Carol reminds us that there's no Geneva Convention that prevents her from torturing logic in her justificatory efforts. But the bottom line is: Carol's OK with using kids as props, as long as it's Democrats doing it. But…
The NRA leadership also dragged the president's own children into the fray, as they falsely warned that Obama was going to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Yeah, it's not OK for the other side to even mention kids. Taranto analyzed the situation and noted: "If the president wants his critics to refrain from even indirectly referring to his daughters, he ought to stop exploiting ordinary people's children in this manner."
Some in Congress were upset at even the mildest suggestions, such as doctors asking if there are guns in the house so they can talk about safety issues involved when there are children in the residence. Doctors ask if somebody smokes around children. They talk about being safe and careful with candles and stoves but, apparently, they should not ask about a huge killer of children - guns Actually, guns are pretty far down the list of accidental kid death causes. But, generally speaking, could Carol and I agree that Your Federal Government should be totally uninvolved in whatever a doctor and patient might want to discuss?

No, of course not. Carol voted for Obamacare, which gets the government intimately involved with the doctor-patient relationship.

It's time to stop the fighting and work on the solutions. It is time to stop bowing to special interests and, yes, the money they bring to campaigns, and talk about how we are going to protect the right to have guns for sport and for protection, and the right to be safe from gun violence. Translation: Carol wants the other side to just shut up and give up. And she'd prefer not to be confronted about it when she's up for re-election, thankyouverymuch.

And she repeats the same "rights" mantra as above, just in case we didn't get it before. "We" are going to "protect" your rights—at least the carefully-delineated ones "we" decide you should have.

The easiest step should be to require background checks for gun sales. This means gun sales involving most private sales, too. The majority of Americans support this plan. We also need to make sure that critical information is available when there is a background check. Records now are too often incomplete, and do not identify a buyer's criminal history or a dangerous mental illness. This proposal polls well, but most gun sales are background-checked today. As John Fund notes, its justification relies on dubious statistics. Jacob Sullum convincingly indicts it as ineffective (a background check wouldn't have stopped the Sandy Hook shooter), invasive of privacy, and impractical.
It is time to end high-capacity magazine sales. It used to be that citizens had a chance to get away from a shooter when he had to stop to reload. But with high-capacity magazines, the killer can just keep firing away a lot longer, murdering many more innocent folks. Hunters do not need to fire 30 rounds, and neither do citizens exercising their right to defend themselves. I support banning magazines holding more than 10 rounds. This will help law enforcement and the public to disarm a mass shooter, and it will give people a better chance to escape a madman. Folks, do you remember — it was only a few sentences ago — where Carol advocated legislation that would remove our "fear of being gunned down in yet another act of violence"?

But here's what that means in reality: her proposal actually just gives you the right to try to scamper away while the bad guy is switching out magazines.

Talk about bait-and-switch!

Somewhat more seriously: read Clayton Cramer on why this proposal is ill-advised.

I support President Obama's call to close loopholes in gun trafficking laws, and to beef up law enforcement in communities. Let's also step up mental health services, and work together to encourage a reduction of violence in video games and television and movies. All of these ideas should be the easiest to enact. There is another step, an assault weapon ban that will require more political debate, but the ideas listed here are common-sense ideas that should have no political test of courage attached to them. Let's get it done now. It has been a long and deadly wait. As near as I can tell, despite Carol's claims, legislation to "close loopholes in gun trafficking laws" is vaporware at this point; there's no actual proposal. But whatever it is, Carol's for it!

As also — so predictably — she's in favor of spending more taxpayer funds on "mental health services" and "law enforcement". Federal money — is there nothing it can't do?

And here's the beauty: in Carol's world, if the huge amounts we already spend aren't doing the job, it simply means we haven't spent enough yet!

But the "reduction of violence in video games and television and movies"? That's supposed to be a "common-sense" idea that's "easy to enact"?

That's delusional, Carol.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 2:52 PM EDT