I was in a larger discussion with Joe Sudbay, our former deputy editor here at AMERICAblog, about gun control, and Joe was talking about Democratic congressman John Dingell (D-MI) and all the damage Dingell has done over the years carrying the NRA’s water.
Here are a few paragraphs from Joe on the John Dingell problem, then more from me.
John Dingell is an NRA champion. He’s gone above and beyond the call of duty for them. He’s long been their Democratic validator. Dingell served on the NRA Board for years. It was Dingell who first called federal law enforcement officers “jack-booted,” before the NRA latched on to the idea. (Dingell preferred to call federal law enforcement officers “jack-booted fascists,” while his NRA bosses preferred “jack-booted thugs.”)
And the reason guns aren’t regulated as a consumer product is because of John Dingell. When the Consumer Product Safety Commission was established back in 1972, Dingell insured their jurisdiction didn’t include guns. So, the only consumer product designed to kill has no consumer regs. There are a number of things gun makers could have done to prevent death and injury. For example, every time you read a story about an unintentional gun death because the shooter didn’t know the gun was loaded, it meant there was no load indicator. For that, you can blame Dingell. I know a lot of people think the guy walks on water, but he’s got quite a legacy of dead kids in my view.
Also, in the wake of Columbine, back in 1999, we actually had momentum to pass legislation requiring background checks at gun shows. The Senate passed it in May, with Gore breaking the tie vote (back in the days when the Senate actually voted on issues instead of filibustering them). When the bill went to the House, John Dingell dutifully pushed an NRA-back measure, which passed and derailed the process.
Quite a legacy. And, I’m sure Debbie, his wife, or their gun nut son, Chris, would love to continue it.
And Joe is spot on. Here’s a Washington Post story from 1999 about Dingell doing the NRA’s dirty-work on gun show background checks:
House last night approved a plan to weaken some of the existing rules for background checks at gun shows, in a vote that revealed the enduring power of pro-gun forces in Congress.
The action signaled a tactical victory for the National Rifle Association, House Republicans and some conservative Democrats, who appeared to be succeeding in forestalling more aggressive proposals for regulating gun shows — an idea that has gained momentum after the Littleton, Colo., school shootings.
On a 218 to 211 vote, the House endorsed a proposal by Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) to water down a Senate measure requiring background checks for all weapons sales at gun shows. By 235 to 193, the House also shot down a competing proposal that more closely resembled the Senate plan, which is favored by gun control advocates.
The Post explained how Dingell actually watered down existing federal law:
The Dingell plan would narrow the range of gun shows that are now subject to federal background check requirements. The amendment also would limit all background checks at gun shows to 24 hours, rather than the 72 hours the law now gives federally licensed dealers to make sure felons do not buy weapons.
The problem with changing the requirement to 24 hours is that it might not be adequate time to do a sufficient background check. Which is why gun nuts prefer it.
And Joe is correct as well about John Dingell being the man responsible for exempting guns from the purview of the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Here’s a short excerpt from Dennis Henigan’s book, “Lethal Logic: Exploding the Myths That Paralyze American Gun Policy“:
It’s important to remember the members of Congress who betray our party, our country, and our children. Never forget.