The shooting at a California synagogue during the end of Passover caused our nation to come together against hate. Antisemitism was strongly condemned, and people of all faiths offered their prayers to the victims and families of the rampage.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was among those who posted about the massacre. “Heartbroken to hear of the San Diego synagogue shooting,” the congresswoman tweeted. “Particularly so on this final day of Passover. We have a responsibility to love + protect our neighbors.”
But what immediately followed that statement is looking like a cruel and callous use of the deaths to push legislation through.
Wasting no time in turning a tragedy into a political push, the tweet went on to say, “The longer the Senate delays holding a vote on #HR8, the more we put Americans at risk.”
Heartbroken to hear of the San Diego synagogue shooting, particularly so on this final day of Passover.
We have a responsibility to love + protect our neighbors.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 27, 2019
H.R.8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, bills itself as simply a way “to require a background check for every firearm sale.” Having passed the Democrats-held House, the proposed legislation still faces a major uphill battle to become law.
But would this have stopped the synagogue shooter, or at least prevented him from buying a gun? It’s hard to tell, but it’s not likely.
California has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, including a recently added one that raises the legal age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21. Since the shooter was 19 and living in California, no gun dealer would have risked his or her license and business selling to someone the state considers underage.
The only other possibilities are that he owned the rifle before the law came into effect, was given the gun, bought it out of state or simply stole it.
Of those, the only one H.R.8 may have prevented is the out-of-state gun purchase. Considering the shooter was a promising nursing student with a stellar high school record, he most likely would have passed a background check anyway.
California’s gun laws didn’t stop him. Laws against murder didn’t stop him. And unless the shooter had a secret felony conviction nobody knew about, H.R.8 likely wouldn’t have stopped him, either.
Despite all of California’s intrusive firearm laws, the one thing that may have saved more lives was, unsurprisingly, a good guy with a gun.
The hero, Border Patrol agent Jonathan Morales, was off-duty at the time of the shooting. He pulled his weapon and engaged the gunman, who later surrendered to police.
President Donald Trump praised the agent, saying, “he may have been off duty but his talents for Law Enforcement weren’t!”
Thankfully, the laws in place that day didn’t put a full stop to this agent’s ability to arm himself. Given stricter laws, however, the death toll could have been much higher if nobody was around to return fire.
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