CT ‘Overreacted’ with ‘Draconian’ Gun Laws Says AK Lawmaker
On Sunday night, 60 Minutes featured an unforgettable interview with some of the family members of those killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. It’s been nearly four months since the unspeakable tragedy that left the nation in shock and mourning. This month, Connecticut passed a gun control law that expands background checks, and limits the number of rounds in ammunition magazines to 10.
The families are now urging changes of a similar nature in Washington.
This transcript begins at 4:57 in the clip.
When asked what changes they would like to see, the following exchange occurred on 60 Minutes.
Bill Scherlach (husband of the school psychologist who was murdered): Limiting magazine size, and universal background checks, if I had to pick two.
Nicole Hockley (mother of Dylan, 6): And anything that helps to limit gun trafficking, and straw purchases.
Scott Pelley (60 Minutes): A straw purchase is when someone who has a clean record buys a gun for a person who would not have been able to pass a background check, which happens all the time.
Nicole Hockley: Correct. That’s common sense.
Neil Heslin: (father of Jesse Lewis, 6) Common sense laws.
Scott Pelley: But gun rights advocates make the argument that this wouldn’t have helped in Sandy Hook.
Neil Heslin: I mean, of course, on the federal level not every law passed is going to make a difference in what happened to us. Generally speaking, it is important for us to try and control the illegal flow of weapons. I don’t think anyone is against that. I don’t think anyone is against… If you look at the subject of universal background checks, and you look at a study that came out of the New England Journal of Medicine in January – the majority of Americans asked, support that. You hear all the time that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Well, then let’s start some background checks for people.
Three days after the show aired, Alaska State Senator Fred Dyson of Eagle River weighed in on Connecticut’s response to the slaughter of 26 children and teachers.
I was surprised when the Presidential…I’ve forgotten the right word, but the actions taken after the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy that, as seems to be a tradition in our country, that we react to crisis and almost overreact always, and don’t make wise decisions. A number of jurisdictions started the process of enacting some very draconian restrictions on the entire firearms industry, and ownership. Colorado would certainly be the first one. Shortly afterwards, the manufacturer of semi-automatic weapon magazines announced that they were pulling the pin, and moving out. Then I saw the most draconian restrictions on the second amendment, I think in our country’s history, and that was in Connecticut. And I thought to myself, “My goodness, do you guys know what you’re doing?”
So, what exactly are these “draconian” measures? The most “draconian in the country’s history?”
The new law restricts sales of the sort of high-capacity ammunition clips that the gunman used to massacre 26 people in minutes. Adam Lanza used magazines with 30 rounds of ammunition. The law restricts the number to 10.
The law also requires background checks for all gun purchases, expands the number of guns covered by the states’ existing assault-weapons ban, and establishes a $15 million fund to help schools improve security infrastructure.
I wonder what Senator Dyson would have said if a gunman had shot his way through the doors of Eagle River Elementary School, and used high capacity clips in a semi-automatic assault weapon to murder 20 children, and 6 Alaska teachers in cold blood? Would background checks seem draconian? Would limiting the number of rounds in a magazine? Five children escaped when Adam Lanza had trouble reloading. How many more may have been saved if he’d only been able to shoot ten rounds at a time?
Dyson is all for state’s rights, and the state of Connecticut, which has been the seat of gun manufacture since the country’s beginnings, and is in no way a stranger to gun culture, has chosen this. Perhaps experience is a greater teacher. Perhaps it’s easy to criticize an “overreaction” when it isn’t your child, your wife, your community, that has been broken. Maybe, “those guys” in Colorado and Connecticut actually DO know what they are doing. Maybe, as the father and mother of slain 1st graders told us, this is common sense.
And it’s telling that his first worry is about how the “draconian restrictions” are being received by the firearms industry. They have plenty of lobbyists, and they are making plenty of money. Legislators are supposed to be enacting laws for the benefit of their citizens, not manufacturers of high-capacity magazines for semi-automatic firearms. I’m pretty sure the Constitution bears me out on that.
On the federal level, Senator Mark Begich (D) joined Republicans in an attempt to filibuster discussion on the floor of proposed federal gun legislation.
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) voted to block gun legislation from coming to the floor for debate on Thursday, one of only two Democrats to do so, along with Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). Another Democratic senator who had threatened to vote no, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), did not. (Today), the gun bill reached the 60-vote threshold needed to move forward.
And the playing of politics continues.