Ifill Doesn't Ask Democrat If Gun Control Bill Would've Stopped Newtown, Asks Why The Legislation Failed

With the monumental collapse of the president’s anti-gun agenda, many are wondering if both sides will “go back into their corners” on gun control.  Every single measure in this new bill failed, which elicited the wrath of the president yesterday in the Rose Garden.  During the April 17 broadcast of the PBS NewsHour, Gwen Ifill asked why these measures failed to pass, mentioned the popularity of background checks, and failed to press Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on past statements about how this bill really wouldn’t have prevented Sandy Hook ergo more mass shootings.

In fairness, Ifill also had Lawrence Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from Conneticut, on the program to discuss the failed bill.  While he said his organization supported some of the amendments in the bill, they couldn’t back it due to the background check provision, noting it would have harmed gun sellers who rely heavily on weekend sales, when most customers come to their stores [emphasis mine]:

LAWRENCE KEANE, National Shooting Sports Foundation: Well, I think that there was never really enough votes, as we saw today, to pass their proposal.

And, you know, we believe that Sen. Manchin's intentions were honest, and he's not trying to infringe upon Second Amendment rights or anything like that. The problem we had from the industry's point of view with the legislation is that the bill prioritized background checks for gun shows over those taking place at storefront retailers, and that just wouldn't work for our members.

And we represent thousands and thousands of firearms retailers, and so we thought that was a problem. And actually it was even worse than that, because the way the language was drafted, it would require that all background checks at gun shows had to be completed before you could do a background check from a storefront FFL dealer.

And so that would shut down background checks on weekends for storefront dealers. That is unacceptable for our members.

As the interview continued, Ifill seemed perplexed that Keane's side won the battle over gun control and seemed to believe her guest was against expanded background checks, which he is not:

GWEN IFILL: You won on all three of those grounds. Why? And is there any gun control or this sort of gun control effort that you would support?

KEANE: Well, I think it's important that we oppose bans on modern sporting rifles. They're the most popular rifles being sold in the United States today. Roughly half the people that buy them are current or former members of the military or law enforcement. They buy them for legitimate purposes, primarily for target shooting and increasingly to go hunting.

Members of the United States Senate and Congress own those firearms. Paul Ryan, for example, owns one of those and goes hunting with them. So ...

IFILL: That one was a forgone conclusion before, as were the magazine clips.

KEANE: Right.

IFILL: But the background checks, not so much.

KEANE: Well, our concern with the universal background checks is we think that the problem we see is that you have to fix the NICS system.

The background checks system we have now is broken. And that's why our industry thinks that the first thing you need to do is fix the NICS system, which is why our industry is funding an initiative to work at the grassroots level, to work with the states that are falling down on the jobs and not getting the background checks -- getting the information into the background check system.

The system is only as good as the information that's in it, and background checks that are incomplete and inaccurate don't help anybody. Having more of those background checks that are incomplete also doesn't help anybody.

Ifill predictably mentioned that 90 percent of Americans support background checks, which is the new talking point from the administration and its liberal allies. Curiously she failed to mention that only 4 percent of Americans think gun control is a critical issue, according to a recent Gallup poll.

As for the now-infamous "40 percent of all firearm purchases are done without a background check" statistic, well, that's been proven to be false, even by liberal fact-checkers at the Washington Post.

Nonetheless, like Sen. Feinstein before him, Sen. Blumenthal concluded the interview where he conveyed his disappointment at the bill’s failure, but assured us that the fight is far from over – and that “we’re coming back.”

IFILL: What does that mean, coming back? After you failed to get the 60 votes necessary on not only this, but also on a number of other pieces of gun control legislation today, what does coming back look like?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: Coming back looks like persuading colleagues that the American people are not just in favor of background checks, illegal trafficking bans, and stronger school safety measures, along with a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, but the American people are going to hold the Senate accountable and answerable between now and Election Day and on Election Day.

So I think that the resoluteness and resilience of the families has to be shown by elected leaders here. And if they show an ounce of courage t    hat these families have shown, they will vote for these measures the next time around.

And the leader, Majority Leader Reid, has indicated there's no question that we will have more votes.

Ifill failed to press Blumenthal as to what those school measures would be in terms of policy.  Does Blumenthal support armed guards in schools, an NRA initiative, which was adopted by the Newtown Board of Education last February? Of course doing so would be to admit that he thought the NRA actually had some good ideas and wasn't the demonic villain he wishes to paint them as. In closing, Blumenthal said:

This time, we're not going back to our corners, if that's happened in the past.

Certainly, what you heard today from two of the highest leaders in our country are a resoluteness and determination that perhaps hasn't been present before. And, tragically, Gwen, we will have more killings. We will have more mass shootings. They will result from assault weapons and from high-capacity magazines.

But, most important, they will result from criminals having their hands on these weapons of war, not only the assault weapons, but also handguns and other weapons that have to be kept out of their hands.

So, is Blumenthal insinuating that this bill would’ve prevented more Newtowns and Auroras? Hist past statements indicate otherwise, although Ifill failed to bring those up.

On April 1, Guy Benson at Townhall reported on how Blumenthal – during an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley –prevaricated on answering the question concerning this bill, and if it “would have stopped anything that went on in Newtown?”  The senior Connecticut senator said planned to offer, or support, amendments that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.  Benson took the senator's remarks to task saying:

1) Background checks - The Newtown shooter stole his weapons from his mother, who bought them legally.  There is no method for checking people who are determined to obtain a gun illegally. Furthermore, law enforcement already lacks the wherewithall to track down the vast majority of prospective gun buyers who flunk background checks. This isn't a Republican talking point; the Vice President has admitted as much himself.

(2) "Assault weapons" ban - Connecticut has a federal-style ban in place.  The weapons used in the Sandy Hook massacre were not proscribed by that law.

(3) Magazine limits - Forcing a spree shooter to reload may provide an opening for unarmed victims to tackle him, which is how bystanders brought the Tucson horror to an end.  The likelihood that defenseless, terrified little children would have the presence of mind, let alone the strength, to bull-rush a deranged gunman is essentially zero.  (What a truly horrific sentence to have to write).