Op-Ed

Rep. Andy Barr needs to stop whining about gun violence and do something

Hundreds gather for ‘Enough is Enough’ vigil in Lexington, call for action on gun violence

Hundreds gathered in Lexington’s Robert F. Stephens Courthouse plaza Thursday night to hold a vigil for the victims of gun violence from two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, this week.
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Hundreds gathered in Lexington’s Robert F. Stephens Courthouse plaza Thursday night to hold a vigil for the victims of gun violence from two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, this week.

When Rep. Rep. Andy Barr talks about gun violence I can’t help but visualize Barney Fife pulling a solitary bullet from his shirt pocket and whining with his high-pitched voice: “Now, Ange…”

That’s probably not fair to Fife, but how better to illustrate Barr’s ineptitude and false bravado than to compare him to Sheriff Andy Taylor’s doofus of a deputy.

Just look at how Barr complained in a Herald-Leader op-ed that Republicans get a bad rap for doing nothing about gun violence. Sounds like when Barney said, “If there’s anything that upsets me, it’s having people say I’m sensitive.”

Here’s the problem. Barr claims credit for bills that have never passed Congress. To make matters worse, those bills – and even the Fix NICS Act, which did pass – are incremental at best and don’t address the real problem: guns, specifically weapons of war.

Barr seems to be as afraid of the gun lobby as Barney was of the goat that swallowed dynamite.

In fact, Barr has repeatedly voted AGAINST legislation that deals specifically with guns such as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which mandates background checks for all gun sales, and the Enhanced Background Act of 2019, which allows more time for background checks. Both bills passed the House with some Republican support.

But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t bring those bills up for a Senate vote unless President Trump approves (a hypocritical stance that only applies to Republican presidents). Just like Otis Campbell, the lovable drunk on The Andy Griffith Show who locked himself behind bars to sober up, McConnell is a self-imposed prisoner.

But Otis had the key to let himself out whenever he wanted. So could McConnell if he wasn’t such a moral coward.

Recently, Barr claimed he wanted bipartisan solutions to gun violence.

Well, here’s bipartisan for you.

Poll after poll shows the majority of Americans favors background checks on all gun sales, banning assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, “red flag” laws and preventing gun sales to the mentally ill and violent criminals.

Here’s another bipartisan thing: factual research.

An exhaustive compilation of academic studies and reports by vox.com shows:

The United States has the highest number of privately owned guns in the world.

No developed country has anywhere near the rate of gun violence as America.

Mass shootings happen nearly every day in America.

The mentally ill are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of gun violence.

Legal restrictions on guns tends to be followed by a drop in gun violence.

More guns equal more deaths.

To summarize: Every country has mentally ill people, video games and drug problems. The only difference is that they are not awash in guns.

I’m not advocating taking guns from law abiding citizens. Americans have a right to own guns as spelled out in the Second Amendment and the Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller.

But Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion that “the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.”

The conservative icon said it was permissible to ban firearm possession by felons and the mentally ill, to restrict guns from such sensitive places as schools and to impose “conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

He also indicated that previous Supreme Court decisions were historically sound to prohibit the carrying of “dangerous or unusual weapons.”

In other words, everyone has the right to a gun for protection and recreation. But no one is entitled to a bazooka or other weapons of war such as assault-style weapons with 100-round drum magazines that can kill nine people and injure 27 others in just 32 seconds like in Dayton.

The bottom line is we don’t need more lame excuses from Barr and McConnell about gun violence. We need real action. Or as Barney Fife would say, now is the time to “nip it in the bud.”

John Winn Miller is a retired journalist living in Lexington who produces indie movies and is a partner in the social media marketing company Friends2Follow.

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