New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg decided to interject himself into the Virginia governor’s race by financing a pro-gun-control commercial that amounts to an attack ad on Republican candidate Bob McDonnell.
I saw the commercial last night and was appalled by both its exploitative nature and its slipshod treatment of the facts.
In the commercial, a Virginia Tech shooting victim’s brother says, “Her killer got his guns because of a gap in Virginia’s background checks.”
That is somewhat true, but the issue was not a lack of a law prohibiting someone like him from purchasing a weapon; it was that a court clerk did not send the killer’s mental-health paperwork to the Central Criminal Records Exchange, a division of the Virginia state police. This is appalling but rare; according to the review of the shootings, “the FBI cited Virginia as the state that provided the most information on people disqualified due to mental deficiency.” Beyond that, the killer was asked on the form whether he had “ever been adjudicated mentally defective (which includes having been adjudicated incompetent to manage your own affairs) or have you ever been committed to a mental institution?” He responded “no.”
The victim’s brother then suddenly shifts gears: “There’s still another huge loophole, the gun-show loophole, which allows convicted criminals to purchase guns completely unchecked. Bob McDonnell wants to keep this loophole open . . . I know closing the loophole won’t bring [his sister] Rema back, but the question is whose sister is next?”
Unmentioned is the fact that the killer did not get his weapons at a gun show. The so-called “gun show loophole” had nothing to do with the horrific events at Virginia Tech.
What’s more, the most recent statistics suggest that criminals very rarely get their weapons from gun shows. In 2006, an FBI study of criminals who attacked law-enforcement officers found that within their sample, “None of the [attackers’] rifles, shotguns, or handguns . . . were obtained from gun shows or related activities.” In 2001, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that less than three-quarters of one percent of guns used in crimes were purchased at gun shows. (Interestingly, Bloomberg’s group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, keeps citing statistics from 1998, even in reports from 2008.)
The attack ad concludes, “Ask Bob McDonnell why he’s protecting criminals instead of protecting us.”
I am angry that Mike Bloomberg is using this victim’s family to argue for a legislative provision that, if it had been in effect two years ago, would have had absolutely no impact on the Virginia Tech massacre. Bloomberg might as well run ads for his trans-fat ban, too.