Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Man with a Righteous Mission: Milwaukee's Chief Flynn (Video)

In the video above, CNN's Anderson Cooper interviews Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A. Flynn about the chief's heated exchange with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) at a hearing on an assault weapons ban. During the hearing, Flynn, in full dress uniform, rightfully asked Graham to stop talking over him and to let him speak.

Graham had been interrupting Flynn to deliver NRA talking points in an attempt to undermine the chief's arguments for background checks and an assault weapons ban. Graham said that the current background checks aren't enforced, a charge leveled to suggests there is no need to have more background checks, such as checks at gun shows.

Flynn says in his CNN interview that the purpose of background checks is to stop people who should not have guns from getting guns; therefore, the checks serve their purpose the moment they prevent a potentially dangerous person from buying a gun. Consequently, there's no need to muck up the system with paperwork prosecutions, such as charging the people who fail the background checks with lying on the form. The criminal justice system is already overloaded with crimes that should have priority.

I agree with Flynn. Furthermore, I had no idea that when NRA mouthpieces start whining that current background checks are not enforced they mean that they want the people who fail the checks to be prosecuted for lying on the form. Who's going to pay for these people to be slapped on the wrist? Being stopped from buying a gun should be penalty enough, a warning that they've been spotted.

Cooper mentions the NRA's repeated declarations of concern for law-abiding citizens' gun rights and wonders how, without background checks, can they claim that people getting guns are law-abiding. Flynn says that when "law-abiding citizens" become first-time offenders they often do so after obtaining a gun.

The day after Flynn's testimony before the Senate, a man opened fire with an assault rifle on a group of 10 people in Milwaukee, wounding two.

As Flynn goes on to tell Cooper, these politicians appear to have more concern about paperwork (read nitpicking) prosecutions than they do about stopping the "slow-motion mass murder" of thousands of Americans each year who die through handgun violence. Clearly frustrated and appalled, he says that the same senators who sat through the NRA-oiled portion of the hearing left the chamber when the Sandy Hook (Newtown) witnesses began to deliver their testimony.

Graham's disrespectful questioning and the senators' departure before Newtown witnesses spoke made me think of something former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer said during his presidential run: "Washington is not broken; it is bought."

I doubt that I'd ever vote for Roemer for president, but his assessment of ethics and priorities in Washington is solidly on point: too many members of Congress seem more inclined to bend over for the NRA lobby than they are inclined to listen to victims of gun violence and to prevent an increase in victims of gun violence.

So, hats off to Chief Flynn. I love a man of integrity, a man with a righteous mention who won't back down.