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CNN Issue Debate - Gun Control

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Ok, so in 2007, Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and himself at his college campus. Cho was not supposed to be able to buy a gun due to a history of mental illness. But the correct records were never sent to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Contributing to this, the federal background check system is also notoriously underfunded, understaffed, and underresourced, allowing red flags to slip through. We've got to make sure that law enforcement has the tools to ensure that nothing slips through. And if people are out there doing a half assed job with this, they ought to be punished.

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HmL Smith @Nubbie,so are you saying that the best way to move forward to curb gun violence is to put more funding towards the FBI, the federal background check system, and law enforcement?  If so, how much funding would you say is enough to address the situation?

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Yes, and I think in terms of actual funding, that's something the FBI would be able to better answer. I intend to see what we can do to address this in congress.

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Senator Ward @Calvin Ward , why is funding and enforcing the laws we currently have not enough?  Shouldn't we try to enforce what we already have before adding other gun laws that may not be enforced either?  We can have as many laws as we want, but they only make life harder for law-abiding gun owners when existing laws to prevent illegal gun ownership are not enforced properly.

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Calls for more determined enforcement of existing gun laws are the most darkly cynical lie in the debate over guns. Our gun laws are carefully crafted to be unenforceable.

One law stands out as the most critical obstacle to enforcement of gun restrictions. A minor provision of the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act bans states or federal agencies from building gun registries. Six states already possessed some form of registry, thus were exempted, but further efforts to break the enforcement of gun regulations made it difficult for them to leverage that information in any useful way.

Congress has protected gun companies from lawsuits. Threats from the NRA have blocked the Centers for Disease Control from researching gun deaths. State and federal laws block law enforcement officials from effectively tracking weapons used in crimes.

Chicago’s frustrating efforts to crack down on gun traffickers illustrates the problems with existing gun laws. Absence of tracking makes enforcement impractical if not impossible. This blind spot fosters a rich climate for illegal gun traffickers in Indiana. Even when federal officials catch someone funneling weapons illegally into Chicago, obtaining convictions is difficult. Police invest little in enforcement efforts because prosecutors regularly decline cases. Prosecutors decline these cases because convictions are so rare. Without federal help, local law enforcement in Chicago has almost no means to stop the flow of guns. Without smart laws, even federal assistance has limited value. Calls to focus on enforcement of existing laws, rather than reforms, are a cynical ploy.

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Well first of all, gun registries are unconstitutional, and would be a gross violation of our citizens' privacy. Furthermore, the CDC has years of research on gun deaths. I'd recommend you read some of the research. In 2018 alone 60% of gun deaths came from suicide. Senator Ward yells foul when we say there's a mental health crisis here, but it's the truth.

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I didn’t yell foul Congressman. I said we shouldn’t say there’s a mental health crisis and then have the attitude of Keep Calm and Carry On. If the gentleman says there’s a mental health crisis, why shouldn’t those people who would be a danger to themselves and others not be subject to confiscation? It makes no sense for you to simultaneously say “there’s problems of mental health having access to firearms” but to cry foul when New York decides to do something. So let me ask you sir, is it better for our mental health crisis as it relates to guns to do something or do nothing?

While he’s contemplating the merits of gawking, let’s focus on the underlying message of what he said. 60% of gun deaths are suicides. He’s exactly right. I don’t disagree with those facts. But what he’s trying to softly say is that we don’t have an issue of gun violence. He looks at Sandy Hook, Orlando, Dallas, Jonesboro and says “What gun violence? That’s only 40% of gun deaths, so Congressman what’s the acceptable ratio that will wake conservatives up that there’s a problem?

 

 

Edited by Calvin Ward
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We do have a problem with gun violence, and in every one of those tragedies that you mentioned, there were warning signs that were there and had the appropriate action been taken, they would've been prevented. Enforce the laws on the books already, and give law enforcement the tools they need to carry out their mission. More regulation leads to more government bloat, and we'll just continue to see the same results.

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OOC:  Keep at it.  I will be in and out today and may not be able to facilitate as much.  Just don't get too uncivil 😉

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Gentlemen, we are almost out of time.  We are going to move into our closing statements.  Since Senator Ward opened the night, Representative Smith will have the final remarks.  So Senator Ward, @Calvin Ward your closing statement.

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What we’ve seen tonight is two people, two parties, and two plans to address gun violence in this nation. One party believes that to carry on our current pathway is good enough, that if we just keep following the same path, it will be ok. They say that gun violence is a mental health issue, but don’t have any specifics. They say enforcing current laws will be enough, but don’t have any specifics. 

On the other hand, my party believes that common sense reform will make a difference. We believe that our citizens second amendment rights must be respected, until you are a danger to yourself or others. We should make sure that those who should have guns can and those that shouldn’t don’t. 

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Senator Ward claims our party wants to carry on a pathway where we do nothing. That is not the case. We have laws in place that are supposed to prevent tragedies. These laws need to be enforced, and we're the folks that want to ensure that our men and women in law enforcement have the tools to make our communities safer. 

Here's what we know as facts. Violent gun crime is down and has been on the decline for decades. The 2011 homicide rate was almost half of the rate in 1991, and according to Pew Research, the 2013 gun-related death rate was half of the rate in 1993.

The principal public safety concerns with respect to guns are suicides and illegally owned handguns, not mass shootings. Most gun-related crimes are carried out with illegally owned firearms, as much as 80 percent according to some estimates.

Gun-related murders are carried out by a predictable pool of people. According to studies, almost all mass public shooters have extensive histories of mental health issues (whether delusional/psychiatric or depression/anger), disturbing behaviors, or interpersonal violence. 

This is what the facts are, and if we can get down to the root causes of this, we can make a difference. No encroachment on your Second Amendment rights like Senator Ward wants to do, but actual common sense gun legislation, and we'll be the party to bring it to you. Thank you.

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On 2/7/2019 at 8:42 PM, Calvin Ward said:

Good evening Jake and thanks for having us both on. My name is Calvin Ward. I am a senator from the state of New York. I live in Manhattan and have spent a large portion of my life fighting for workers. 

I believe in the Second Amendment. I firmly believe that Americans have the right to protect themselves or even to hunt. However, I also am horrified by the amount of gun violence we’ve seen over the last few years. When we have people getting shot at work, at leisure, and God forbid, at their elementary school, something must change. I believe that we must have common sense bipartisan gun reform. 

Nothing controversial here.  Clearly, the far right demos don't like the word "common sense" with gun reform as that is a standard approach taken by pro-gun control.  Moderates tend to listen to the statement earlier about your belief in the 2nd amendment which makes them open to hear about how to fix the problem you mentioned regarding gun violence.

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On 2/7/2019 at 8:56 PM, Nubbie said:

Thanks Jake, it's a pleasure to be here tonight. My name is George Smith, and I come from South Texas. I've spent a portion of my life studying the Constitution and what it means in our modern world. The Second Amendment states, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." And I take those words to heart. My father JEB taught me at a young age the importance of this. We'd go hunting together and he taught me all about gun safety. Tonight, I will tell you just how important this amendment is, and why it should matter to each and every American citizen. I believe in the inalienable right to bear arms, and believe it should be defended.

Good job establishing your credibility on this topic. You went from your study of the constitution which lead into your narrative for the debate which was essentially protecting the 2nd amendment rights of the people.  Obviously, the far right likes to hear the buzzwords of the 2nd amendment and the defense of it while far left demos think care little about someone touting the protection of the 2nd amendment as a reason to oppose "common sense" gun control.  Nothing you said would turn moderates away.  They are fine with your statements.

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On 2/7/2019 at 9:15 PM, Calvin Ward said:

Very simply I’d like to see us make sure that those who shouldn’t have guns don’t. This would require universal background checks. In private sales, background checks don’t always happen. I believe that a great start to keeping our cities safe. That also means we should keep those on terrorist watch lists from acquiring firearms as well.

Second, i believe we should eliminate bump stocks from markets. Bump stocks create a loophole that turn semi automatic firearms into essentially an automatic. 

 

Good job outlining the plans that you and the Democrats are likely to take to address you outlined earlier

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On 2/7/2019 at 9:28 PM, Nubbie said:

Certainly, Mr. Ward brings up some good points, such as bump stocks, I mean Mr. Ward must've taken a page out of former President Trump's book because he banned bump stocks during his term. When buying a gun from a store, you are required to wait a couple of days so they can run you through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. I think extending this to private sales would be a little ridiculous because lets face it, if my brother wants to buy my Ruger from me, do I need to run him through the system, of course not. Not to mention, this would create a huge backlog and increase wait time for family owned gun stores to make much needed sales. I do agree with Mr. Ward when he says those on terrorist watchlists shouldn't be able to buy a firearm. There are safeguards in place which prevent folks who shouldn't own guns from owning them, it's just a matter of following those safeguards.

This is a mixed bag.  In one instance, you defended the current gun laws that are in place which is something that the far right like as a means to prevent further gun control laws; however, the statement about the terrorist watchlist is something that nationalists especially hate.  The idea behind their opposition to that is since anyone can be put on the terrorist watchlist without even knowing it, law-abiding Americans could lose their right to own a gun unlawfully if the government agency putting people on the terrorist watchlist abuses its power.  So I put Nationalist and Evangelical as a net 0 instead of a gain or loss.

Moderates and the far left doesn't love the "if my brother wants to buy my Ruger from me, do I need to run him through the system, of course not."  Then saying "There are safeguards in place which prevent folks who shouldn't own guns from owning them, it's just a matter of following those safeguards."

This means your brother could literally be mentally ill, an ex-criminal, or whoever would make the no-no list for guns being armed.  Conservative groups are fine with this but moderates and the left aren't.

Nationalist Evangelical Business Moderate Conserv. Moderate Liberal SJW Progressive Environmentalist
0 0 1 -1 -1 -2 -2 -2
On 2/7/2019 at 9:56 PM, Calvin Ward said:

Well first let’s go back to some things the Congressman said. First off the FBI says that a single background check would take minutes not days. In fact 92% of checks return an instant verdict. So when it comes to the back log of firearms, he can sell that somewhere else, because I’m not buying it. Even still, let’s just focus on the 8% that do get pushed; isn’t it worth it? Dylan Roof bought  .45 Glock pistol dispite confessions to a drug charge because we didn’t take the time. So he talks about the word of a back log, I bet Tywanza Jackson wished we had taken our time. 

He talks about why we don’t need to do background checks on private sales, and though I don’t know his brother, I’m sure he’s a good guy. But this is a loophole in our system. In 2014, Micah Xavier Johnson bought an automatic rifle in the parking lot of a target. He also killed five police officers in Dallas. So yes, taking our time is worth it.

Now to your question I think. It’s only a slippery slope if you slide down it. Here’s the problem with the premise, a NICS check is destroyed once the transaction happens. The only record that is required is the dealer, not the government. Even during routine ATF checks, the dealer keeps the paperwork. It’s been intentionally designed to not have a registry. So more checks to the current systwm wouldn’t create that. The only way that’s changed is through a new law, and I don’t think that’s the governments business 

I appreciate the statistics for your response.  You touched up on the point about his brother and the loophole problem.  Nice job bringing the police officers example into it as a justification.  The BlueLives matter people understand the problem by helping protect their own.

I would say a good response for the universal background checks as being a form of a gun registry.

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0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1
On 2/8/2019 at 4:05 PM, Nubbie said:

Okay so Senator Ward wants universal background checks. The Federal Government has noted in its own studies, that nearly 40 percent of all crime guns are acquired from street level dealers, who are criminals in the black market business of peddling stolen and recycled guns. The big problem we have is not background check or more regulation, but enforcing the laws that are already out there, and getting these criminals off the streets. And despite what Senator Ward says, registration has already led to gun confiscation in the United States – in New York, California, Chicago, District of Columbia. So yeah, voters are wary about this gross infringement of Second Amendment rights. National registration to support “universal” background checks is almost universally repugnant, and we've got to fight against it.

Good move to try to make universal background checks irrelevant.  You brought in a good point about New York, California, etc...   Of course, far left thinks it is a good idea, but moderates are listening.  Nationalists love hearing that background checks just need to be enforced as opposed to more regulation.

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On 2/8/2019 at 4:17 PM, Calvin Ward said:

So what about the other 60% Congressman? That seems to be a bigger chunk of crimes and you’re willingly saying they are acquired through ordinary means.

Progressives liked this comeback

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On 2/8/2019 at 4:25 PM, Calvin Ward said:

While the Congressman realizes that sixty percent is greater than forty let me address those “confiscations” he’s nervous about. 

In DC, they have passed a red flag law that says that you’re guns can be taken away if it can be proven that you are a danger to yourself or others. A family member, neighbor, or roommate can go to the police and claim someone is a risk to themselves or others. The police will go to a judge to get an ERPO against the gun owner.

What this isn’t is coming to take your rifle just because. You’re a hunter or farmer and not a danger to yourself or others? Then you have nothing to worry about. He says how scary those are, you know who I wish was here to hear this debate? Daniel Barden or Emilie Parker. Instead they were killedbecause someone who shouldn’t have had access had access to a firearm and wasn’t stopped. Republicans day all of the time that these mass shootings come because of mental illness, that’s a perfectly understandable point. But now that certain states have acted to address that issue, he takes offense to it? 

Good job defending the DC red flag law.  The key point that stands out is how you highlighted "due process" with a judge.

The follow up regarding the current status of the laws that failed to stop the killing of Daniel Barden and Emilie Parker while agreeing that mental illness could be the reason but reinforcing the idea that if states have acted to address that issue it is a problem.

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On 2/9/2019 at 10:29 AM, Nubbie said:

Ok, so in 2007, Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and himself at his college campus. Cho was not supposed to be able to buy a gun due to a history of mental illness. But the correct records were never sent to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Contributing to this, the federal background check system is also notoriously underfunded, understaffed, and underresourced, allowing red flags to slip through. We've got to make sure that law enforcement has the tools to ensure that nothing slips through. And if people are out there doing a half assed job with this, they ought to be punished.

 

On 2/9/2019 at 3:01 PM, Nubbie said:

Yes, and I think in terms of actual funding, that's something the FBI would be able to better answer. I intend to see what we can do to address this in congress.

I combined these two.  The problem you described is that the laws aren't being enforced.  If we fixed the underfunded, understaffed, and underresourced law enforcement, we would be better off than creating more gun control.  In addition, you mentioned that people who are not doing their jobs in law enforcement should be punished. 

The follow up question was an attempt to get specifics on how we enforce the laws better.  I was hoping for some sort of specifics as to what would be funded, is there a bill that will provide better oversight over these laws, what is the punishment for neglecting the current laws/regulations.  In addition, you avoided the question by saying that it is the FBI's job to answer that kind of question. 

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On 2/9/2019 at 7:13 PM, Calvin Ward said:

Calls for more determined enforcement of existing gun laws are the most darkly cynical lie in the debate over guns. Our gun laws are carefully crafted to be unenforceable.

One law stands out as the most critical obstacle to enforcement of gun restrictions. A minor provision of the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act bans states or federal agencies from building gun registries. Six states already possessed some form of registry, thus were exempted, but further efforts to break the enforcement of gun regulations made it difficult for them to leverage that information in any useful way.

Congress has protected gun companies from lawsuits. Threats from the NRA have blocked the Centers for Disease Control from researching gun deaths. State and federal laws block law enforcement officials from effectively tracking weapons used in crimes.

Chicago’s frustrating efforts to crack down on gun traffickers illustrates the problems with existing gun laws. Absence of tracking makes enforcement impractical if not impossible. This blind spot fosters a rich climate for illegal gun traffickers in Indiana. Even when federal officials catch someone funneling weapons illegally into Chicago, obtaining convictions is difficult. Police invest little in enforcement efforts because prosecutors regularly decline cases. Prosecutors decline these cases because convictions are so rare. Without federal help, local law enforcement in Chicago has almost no means to stop the flow of guns. Without smart laws, even federal assistance has limited value. Calls to focus on enforcement of existing laws, rather than reforms, are a cynical ploy.

Good job explaining the problems with the current laws and making your case for why the country should do more.

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On 2/10/2019 at 9:44 AM, Nubbie said:

Well first of all, gun registries are unconstitutional, and would be a gross violation of our citizens' privacy. Furthermore, the CDC has years of research on gun deaths. I'd recommend you read some of the research. In 2018 alone 60% of gun deaths came from suicide. Senator Ward yells foul when we say there's a mental health crisis here, but it's the truth.

This was a suitable response.  Standing firm to the anti-gun registry/any sort of oversight on personal guns.  Nationalists like that.  This was a good shift from addressing guns and focusing the problem on mental health.  If there was a plan to address mental health, this would have been a good time to share it as an alternative. 

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2 1 1 0 0 -1 -1 -1

 

On 2/10/2019 at 10:18 AM, Calvin Ward said:

I didn’t yell foul Congressman. I said we shouldn’t say there’s a mental health crisis and then have the attitude of Keep Calm and Carry On. If the gentleman says there’s a mental health crisis, why shouldn’t those people who would be a danger to themselves and others not be subject to confiscation? It makes no sense for you to simultaneously say “there’s problems of mental health having access to firearms” but to cry foul when New York decides to do something. So let me ask you sir, is it better for our mental health crisis as it relates to guns to do something or do nothing?

While he’s contemplating the merits of gawking, let’s focus on the underlying message of what he said. 60% of gun deaths are suicides. He’s exactly right. I don’t disagree with those facts. But what he’s trying to softly say is that we don’t have an issue of gun violence. He looks at Sandy Hook, Orlando, Dallas, Jonesboro and says “What gun violence? That’s only 40% of gun deaths, so Congressman what’s the acceptable ratio that will wake conservatives up that there’s a problem?

 

 

 

On 2/10/2019 at 12:26 PM, Nubbie said:

We do have a problem with gun violence, and in every one of those tragedies that you mentioned, there were warning signs that were there and had the appropriate action been taken, they would've been prevented. Enforce the laws on the books already, and give law enforcement the tools they need to carry out their mission. More regulation leads to more government bloat, and we'll just continue to see the same results.

 

 

On 2/10/2019 at 12:35 PM, Calvin Ward said:

 @Nubbie Would appropriate actions been taking the gun away from Adam Lanza by the police?

 

On 2/10/2019 at 4:38 PM, Calvin Ward said:

What we’ve seen tonight is two people, two parties, and two plans to address gun violence in this nation. One party believes that to carry on our current pathway is good enough, that if we just keep following the same path, it will be ok. They say that gun violence is a mental health issue, but don’t have any specifics. They say enforcing current laws will be enough, but don’t have any specifics. 

On the other hand, my party believes that common sense reform will make a difference. We believe that our citizens second amendment rights must be respected, until you are a danger to yourself or others. We should make sure that those who should have guns can and those that shouldn’t don’t. 

 

On 2/11/2019 at 3:34 PM, Nubbie said:

Senator Ward claims our party wants to carry on a pathway where we do nothing. That is not the case. We have laws in place that are supposed to prevent tragedies. These laws need to be enforced, and we're the folks that want to ensure that our men and women in law enforcement have the tools to make our communities safer. 

Here's what we know as facts. Violent gun crime is down and has been on the decline for decades. The 2011 homicide rate was almost half of the rate in 1991, and according to Pew Research, the 2013 gun-related death rate was half of the rate in 1993.

The principal public safety concerns with respect to guns are suicides and illegally owned handguns, not mass shootings. Most gun-related crimes are carried out with illegally owned firearms, as much as 80 percent according to some estimates.

Gun-related murders are carried out by a predictable pool of people. According to studies, almost all mass public shooters have extensive histories of mental health issues (whether delusional/psychiatric or depression/anger), disturbing behaviors, or interpersonal violence. 

This is what the facts are, and if we can get down to the root causes of this, we can make a difference. No encroachment on your Second Amendment rights like Senator Ward wants to do, but actual common sense gun legislation, and we'll be the party to bring it to you. Thank you.

To wrap up, as this needs to get wrapped up.

The final impression of the overall debate is that Ward's ideas were to essentially introduce new ideas to the fold and prevent "bad guys" from getting guns whereas Smith was trying to protect gun owners of more regulations and saying that the problem can be solved by addressing the negligence and the inability to carry out the laws we already have. 

Smith could have won some more points if he had more answers on how to reinforce the laws we already have or by addressing what he called the blame of gun violence, mental health problems.  Not sure how we address mental health but the theme of the debate was mostly Ward saying we need a change while Smith saying no, we just aren't doing a good job at doing what we already are trying to do.  Leaving this debate, I know how Senator Ward and the Democrats will proceed to address the issue while I do not know what Senator Smith and the Republicans are going to do.  Smith's main points were about defending gun owners from more government overreach and attempting to ignore Ward's plans as unnecessary.  He did well with standing firm for the far right 2nd amendment advocates which is why the overall far right totals are good and pleased with his performance.  Moderates were fine with the style and listened but don't know where we go with the GOP plans.  Moderates liked hearing the options moving forward from Ward.

Senator Ward Final Grade

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-7 -4 -4 5 8 10 14 7

Senator Smith

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10 5 7 2 1 -7 -11 -6

 

 

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