I noticed Cliff Schechter is jumping at the opportunity to use the Florida school board shooting to blast the National Rifle Association and says it shows the folly of gun rights supporters.  Cliff is paid by the anti-gun group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, as a political consultant.

I know this isn’t going to win me many fans here, but Cliff Schechter is totally wrong.

Blaming the NRA for allowing Clay Duke to get a handgun to use to terrorize that Florida school board only works if something the NRA favored allowed Duke to possess a firearm.  However, Duke was a convicted felon, which meant under Florida law it was illegal for him to possess a firearm unless he had gone to court to remove his felony conviction “disability” which prevented him from lawfully owning a gun.  That’s unlikely given that Duke’s felony was that he stalked his ex-wife, shot out her tires of her car while she was in it trying to leave, while wearing a bulletproof vest.  The chances that a Florida judge, or hell, even a judge in Texas, would grant an application to allow such a person to legally own a firearm is nil.  The NRA has never opposed state laws that prevent felons, particularly dangerous and violent felons, from legally owning or possessing guns.  (If the media or police later reveal that Duke obtained the weapon through a gun show where proper background checks are lax to nonexistent thanks to the lobbying of the NRA, then he’s got a point.  However, it’s way too speculative to assume that’s the case without some evidence at this point.)

One of the people being haled as a hero is the retired police officer who shot Duke four times in the back before Duke took his own life with his own firearm.  That security officer was legally able to possess and use a firearm because of Florida’s gun laws.  Ordinarily, you don’t see private security officers, such as Jones was, carrying a firearm.  The fact that he did have a firearm and was willing to put himself into harm’s way to use it to defend others stopped Duke from continuing to shoot at the school board members and officials as he did.

Instead of blaming the NRA, perhaps someone should look at another reason behind Duke’s actions—the fact that he was distraught because his wife, who had separated from him, had seen her unemployment benefits expire because Congress had not yet approved an extension.

But maybe that, too, is just a politicized excuse to exploit a person who suffered from mental health issues like depression and a bipolar disorder who in the end, clearly, was trying to commit suicide by law enforcement, and then decided to take his own life instead after being shot four times in the back by someone else willing and able to fight back to his armed act of terrorism.

A man died; others could have.  Do we need to kill our social moral decency at letting a human tragedy be just that without sacrificing it in the name of a special interest group’s political agenda?

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  • Anonymous

    Well said. NRA lobbied hard for the instant checks that are in place now at gun stores nationwide.

    As someone that apparently stalked and assaulted an ex-wife, I’m pretty sure his firearms disability is permanent.

  • Plunderbuddy

    “A man died; others could have been.” And George W. Bush couldn’t have been prouder.

  • Anonymous

    That combination makes you a dangerous person, David. 😉

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  • Redhorse

    Well stated, ME, on all fronts.

  • Drew

    While I completely and totally agree with your conclusion, there’s a difference between (paraphrasing) allowing him to legally own a gun and supporting policies that make it somewhat easy for someone who’s legally prevented from owning a gun to obtain one. Loopholes such as gun show exceptions, private sales, etc make it easy to avoid background checks and make straw buys simple. Policies that increase the total number of firearms available (arguably helping the firearms manufactures more than maintaining gun rights) make the market for illegal sales stronger.

    All that being said … if we really feel the need to politicize this (which I don’t), lets talk about better mental health care instead.

  • Ratdg1

    Well said, but I think there’s one error in your post. Retired cops are usually allowed to possess a firearm, regardless of state law, unless they were retired due to psychological disability.

  • Right, that would be HR 218, if I’m not mistaken. Was the security guard a retired police officer?

  • Anonymous

    My understanding is that he was a retired police officer working as a private security guard.

  • loneill

    ME: First, can you explain to me your definition of “anti-gun” in reference to Mayors Against Illegal Guns? Or, do you just accept whatever Jim Irvine tells you? How is MAIG “anti-gun?”

    Just once, I’d like to see someone on the “all guns all the time” side actually admit that it’s possible to simultaneously support efforts to keep guns out of the hands of felons, domestic violence abusers, and teens–you know, the people who commit most of the shootings in this country–and respect the rights of legal gun owners.

    And, yes, the NRA does take an active role in shaping gun policy in this country–in fact it’s the chief shaper of gun policy, as you well know. It actively lobbies for the rights of people to buy guns at gun shows and via privates sellers with no background check, no paperwork, nothing that could leave a trail. Why do you think that is? Because it’s interested in public safety?

    As for politicizing the shooting in Florida–that’s always the last resort of the gun lobby. Accuse the other guy of what you do routinely.

    Please float more cogent arguments if you’re going to defend the gun lobby.

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