Ethics Observations On The Karl-Murphy Exchange On Gun Regulations And Orlando

Murphy

Here is the interview ABC interview with Senator Chris Murphy (D-Ct)as it transpired on today’s This Week on ABC. The interviewer and substitute host was one of the few journalists, Jonathan Karl (Jake Tapper and Ed Henry also qualify; there are a few others) who at least strive for objectivity and don’t see themselves as Democratic party allies….

KARL: That’s Connecticut senator Chris Murphy. He spent 15 straight hours on the Senate floor this week demanding that Republicans hold votes on gun control measures and Senator Murphy joins us here right now. So, Senator Murphy, you are getting those votes on Monday. Tomorrow. But are you going to have to look those families in the eye once again and tell them that you have failed? Because those bills are not going to pass. None of them.

CHRIS MURPHY: Well, we’re going to work hard, over the weekend, on the bill that stops people on the terrorist watch list to from getting guns. I admit the background checks bill will be tough to get 60 votes on. But, we have hope we can get Republicans to support the bill stopping terrorists from getting weapons.But listen, I think something important happened last week. It wasn’t just 40 Senators came to the floor and supported my effort to get these votes. There were millions of people all across the country who rose up and who joined our effort. And what we know is, ultimately, the only way to win the issue is by building a political infrastructure around the country that rivals that of the gun lobby. And so, I’m still hopeful we’re going to be able to get votes. I know there are also some compromise negotiations happening that may bear fruit. But, in the final analysis what many be most important is that our filibuster helped galvanize an entire country around this issue.

KARL: But you’re specifically pushing a bill and have been pushing the bill, and it will be voted on on Monday, to close the so-called “gun show loophole.” Would that have done anything to stop the massacre in Orlando?

MURPHY: So, it may have in the sense that if you partner with a bill that stops terrorists from getting guns.—

KARL: But wait a minute. He didn’t buy those guns at a gun show. And he would have passed the background check. He did pass a background check.

MURPHY: He did pass a background check. But, if the Feinstein bill was in effect, the FBI could have put him on the list of those prohibited from getting guns. What if he went into the gun store and got denied, he could have gone online, or to a gun show, and bought another weapon.

KARL: Okay, but what I’m trying to get at is, we hear every time there’s one of these terrible tragedies there are proposals. Your proposal would have done nothing in the case of Orlando, it would have done nothing to stop the killing in San Bernardino. And in fact, it was unrelated to the killing in Newtown. So why — why are we focusing on things that have nothing to do with the massacres we’re responding to?

MURPHY: So first of all, we can’t get into that trap. I disagree, I think if this proposal had been into effect it may have stopped the shooting. But we can’t get into the trap in which we are forced to defend our proposal simply because it didn’t stop the last tragedy. We should be making our gun laws less full of Swiss cheese holes, so that future killings don’t happen. That trap in an impossible one. The Sandy Hook families lobby for background checks. You know why? Because they are just as concerned with the young men and women who are dying in our cities because of the flow of illegal guns, as they are about a ban of assault weapons, or high magazines clips that might have prevented the Newtown killings. So, this has to be broader that just responding to the tragedy that happened three days ago.

KARL: But, why can’t Congress pass things there is obvious agreement on. For instance, the question of the terrorist watch list. There is opposition to banning gun sales for people on that list. People have constitutional concerns. But why can’t you simply pass a provision that says that, “anybody who’s on a terrorist watch list or has been on a terrorist watch list for the last five years, tries to buy a gun, the FBI is automatically notified?” I mean at, at least they can follow the person, track the person. Why can’t Congress at least do that?

MURPHY: Well first of all, does the FBI have the resources, I mean that’s a question, to take those notifications, especially if the individual walks out of the store with the gun, and stop the killing before it happens? It would be much more effective to make sure the individual [doesn’t] get the gun, rather than to make the FBI go find him after he gets it.

Ethics Observations:

1. Bravo, Jon Karl. I don’t think Murphy was prepared for these questions, which were as necessary as they were obvious, but not something a good, compliant, Democrat, anti-gun lackey is supposed to ask. The news media is biased, but it isn’t always biased, and not all journalists are partisan, at least not all the time. I can’t call Karl an Ethics Hero for just doing his job the way journalism schools say it should be done, but he certainly is an exemplar.

2. The cheers and accolades sent Senator Murphy’s way because of his filibuster were sad. He was grandstanding; I kept trying to explain that to people as they called him a hero. A more cynical, misleading stunt would be hard to imagine. It was a direct appeal to the emotional “Do something, anything!” crowd, with the intention of being able to blame Republicans when none of his ineffective or unconstitutional measures were passed. This make any accord on gun regulations less likely, not more.

Some hero.

3. Here’s an early candidate for most outrageous double-talk of the year: This exchange:

KARL: …Would that have done anything to stop the massacre in Orlando?

MURPHY: So, it may have in the sense that if you partner with a bill that stops terrorists from getting guns.

In other words, no.

“Can a car really run on sunlight?”

“It can if you have a gasoline engine.”

4. “But, if the Feinstein bill was in effect, the FBI could have put him on the list of those prohibited from getting guns.” The FBI can’t put citizens on lists that restrict their rights, not without due process. If Murphy thinks otherwise, then he’s not qualified to be a U.S. Senator. To the extent that his saying this leads journalists and anti-gun members of the public to think the government can, at its whim, place a citizen on such a list, he is making them less informed, or cruelly misleading them.

5. This is the question I never thought I’d hear a mainstream media reporter ask:

KARL: Okay, but what I’m trying to get at is, we hear every time there’s one of these terrible tragedies there are proposals. Your proposal would have done nothing in the case of Orlando, it would have done nothing to stop the killing in San Bernardino. And in fact, it was unrelated to the killing in Newtown. So why — why are we focusing on things that have nothing to do with the massacres we’re responding to?

I’ll answer that one, Jon, because you won’t (and didn’t) get a straight answer from Senator Murphy. The idea is, in the words of Obama’s one-time chief of staff, now Mayor of Chicago, to “never let a good crisis go to waste.” The idea is to persuade people when they are angry, frightened, upset and not thinking clearly, and to mislead them by acting as if what you are proposing would have or might have stopped the tragedy, knowing full well that it wouldn’t. This was right out of the Newtown playbook. It is cynical; it is manipulative; it is dishonest, and it is a terrible way to make coherent policy.

6. I love this response:

MURPHY: So first of all, we can’t get into that trap. I disagree, I think if this proposal had been into effect it may have stopped the shooting. But we can’t get into the trap in which we are forced to defend our proposal simply because it didn’t stop the last tragedy.

WHAT???

a) How is requiring a Senator who uses a specific event to argue for specific policy measures to explain how the measures are relevant to the event he is using to justify them a trap?  The one trapped is him, by his own deceit.

b) “I disagree, I think if this proposal had been into effect it may have stopped the shooting.” How? How in the world? The Orlando killer wasn’t on any terror list when he purchased the guns involved. As a lone wolf terrorist willing to break laws (you know, like the laws against killing people), he could have acquired guns illegally if somehow he was blocked from acquiring them illegally.

c) But we can’t get into the trap in which we are forced to defend our proposal simply because it didn’t stop the last tragedy.” You got yourself into that trap, Senator, by grandstanding for measures that couldn’t possibly have prevented this shooting. Of course your proposed bill didn’t stop the last tragedy; even if you had Bon Jovi to “turn back time,” that would be impossible. Of course you have to defend a proposal to add regulations to gun purchases as a solution to a mass shooting if it isn’t really a solution and wouldn’t have stopped that shooting. The reason you uttered this authentic frontier gibberish is that you know your anti-gun constituency just wants as many laws and regulations as it can get, and the most recent shooting is regarded as a convenient excuse to try to get them. How dare Jonathan Karl point out the intellectual dishonesty this entails? Commonsense is a trap. Logical consistency is a trap.

7. “People have constitutional concerns.” This is some bad equivocation, by Karl. “Concerns”? What is being proposed is unconstitutional. The NRA and the ACLU are in agreement on this, as are almost all Constitutional scholars. The government can’t put you on a suspicion list and use that to deny you any part of the Bill of Rights. Be thankful for that…especially with the likely leaders on the horizon.

8. “It would be much more effective to make sure the individual [doesn’t] get the gun, rather than to make the FBI go find him after he gets it.”

Yes, and it would also be more effective if we just threw all Muslims, gun owners, antigay bigots and NRA members into a big cage, too. That wouldn’t be Constitutional either.

9. Murphy sounded like a fool, and a fool with no understanding of the Constitution to boot. That’s what unbiased, probing reporting can accomplish, and that’s why we desperately need more of it.

 

14 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The Karl-Murphy Exchange On Gun Regulations And Orlando

  1. Murphy sounded like a fool, and a fool with no understanding of the Constitution to boot.

    So he sounded like a politician and (at least where guns are concerned) a Democrat politician.

    As for the rest, especially this idea of using a list devoid of Due Process to strip a right that is mentioned by name, I will refrain from comment for I fear many of the words would be very, very bad ones.

  2. The No-Fly List is an abomination, and it should have been destroyed by now, but it’s being empowered instead. Sometimes I think Barack Obama’s only mission as a president was to whitewash (blackwash?) Bush Jr.’s attacks on liberty and the rule of law.

    • About a year ago, I drove by the site of Manzanar, near Lone Pine, California. That was where we interned people, not because of what we proved they did, or even for prosecuting them for what they think we did, but for mere suspecting them to be enemies. An apology for those actions would not be for another fifty years.

      If we are to take this path, then we would effectively take back that apology.
      In fact, we might as well reopen Manzanar.

      • Manzanar concentration camp… I had to look that one up. I knew the broad facts about the Japanese internment, but not the details.

        You’re right about that apology, of course: we’re actively undoing it. And we may not be reopening Manzanar, but we’ve got other places to keep people locked up. Adel Abdulhehim, for instance, would probably like to go home to Afghanistan instead of rotting in Guantanamo Bay.

        • The distinction is between those protected under our civil laws and those that were not.

          The Nazi war crimes suspects held abroad were not entitled to U.S. constitutional protections.

          And it goes without saying that POWs did not have the protection of the 2nd Amendment.

  3. Yes, and it would also be more effective if we just threw all Muslims, gun owners, antigay bigots and NRA members into a big cage, too. That wouldn’t be Constitutional either.

    https://groups.google.com/d/msg/soc.culture.african.american/-2TwVOBXpys/jcDAgF3f3-MJ

    Why
    not take the lead of South Africa? We could institute a pass law system and
    limit the movements of young Black males. We could make them live in barbed
    wire enclosed hostels so that the police could better control their movements.
    Why not follow THAT example? The next thing you know, you’ll be telling me
    that that would be unconstitutional and WRONG….

    Of course if you DID get your way, and you conferred upon Daryl Gates and
    Jesse Helms the monopoly on the means of armed force, the above probably WOULD
    happen.

    – Christopher C. Morton, replying to George W. Hunter, 10/22/1992

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