Beyond the call for more gun control, another by-product of the shootings by the madman in Tucson is an upsurge in the media calling for the confirmation of Andrew Traver.
Helping to push this is Mayor Bloomberg and his Mayors Against Illegal Guns. They are calling for “common sense” measures. Number three on their list released on January 11th is this:
Fill the Leadership Gap and Appoint an ATF Director – The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, the federal law enforcement agency responsible for fighting gun crime, has operated without a Director for four and a half years. President Obama has nominated Andrew Traver, a career law enforcement officer, to fill the position. The nomination has the strong support of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and the Senate should give Mr. Traver a careful and prompt review to help ATF spearhead the fight against gun crime.
From Jonathan Alter in Newsweek comes this from a piece entitled Can Obama Turn Tragedy Into Triumph? Saturday’s shooting spree could prove a turning point in the Obama presidency. How the White House should talk about the tragedy:
Finally, the president should speak out forthrightly for better enforcement of existing gun control laws, which the gun lobby is always fighting to undermine. He should re-state his support of Andrew Traver to be head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF). The NRA is currently blocking the nomination because Traver once had the temerity to serve as an adviser to a police association on its gun violence reduction program. Obama can reiterate his (and Giffords’) support for the 2nd Amendment while using this chance to make a case for common sense gun control.
Alter is hoping that Obama could turn the shootings in Tucson into an Oklahoma City bombing sort of event and use Jared Loughner just like Bill Clinton used Timothy McVeigh.
The New York Daily News devoted an entire editorial to the Traver nomination accusing “NRA toadies in the Senate” of keeping the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives without a permanent Director. In typical, over-the-top, Daily News fashion they said:
The truth is, the National Rifle Association and its puppets in Congress push just as hard to hogtie enforcement as they do to gut the nation’s all-too-feeble statutes.
And the prime example is their blockade against confirming a permanent chief for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – the federal front-line force against gun trafficking.
In the editorial they also try to link the shootings at Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, and Tucson to the lack of an ATF Director. They conclude by urging Senators to confirm Traver saying “As bodies pile up, it’s the least they can do.” Obviously, they haven’t heard Obama’s call for civility in political discourse.
In California, the Sacramento Bee has picked up the call for Traver saying that we shouldn’t let the NRA dictate who should be “the top gun cop.” After dismissing Traver’s cozy relations with the gun ban lobby, they say:
The bureau responsible for enforcing the nation’s gun laws has not had a permanent director since 2006. Senate Republicans even held up the Bush administration’s appointee to the post at the behest of gun-rights groups. The bureau is under siege by the powerful gun lobby as illegal gun trafficking within the United States and abroad is rife. Our neighbor, Mexico, is being held hostage by vicious and well-armed drug cartels that buy their weapons in the United States.
The NRA is pushing so-called reform legislation that would make it even harder for law enforcement agencies to prosecute illegal gun dealers. In the face of relentless pressure from the gun lobby, Congress and even the president have shown themselves unwilling and unable to support even the most common-sense gun-safety laws.
Traver’s nomination is a test for the nation and its lawmakers. If a cop with an exemplary record of going after illegal gun sales can’t win confirmation as ATF director following last Saturday’s rampage, we are likely to see more Tucsons, more Columbines and more Virginia Techs.
These incendiary editorials have just begun as well as the push for more gun control – ineffective though it would have been in preventing Jared Loughner from doing this deranged act. We can expect more calls and more pressure on Senators to approve Andrew Traver.
If you haven’t called, written, emailed, or faxed your two Senators, what the hell are your waiting for? Do it and do it now.
UPDATE: In what should be no surprise, NPR is the latest media outlet reporting that ATF has been without a permanent Director and asking why Traver hasn’t been approved.
The Senate has yet to hold a hearing on Traver. A Judiciary Committee aide says the panel is waiting for the administration to submit the necessary paperwork.
Cavanaugh says the lack of a Senate-confirmed director with the backing of the president is disconcerting.
“The agency goes on because law enforcement people are ‘can do’ people and they’re mission people, but nevertheless there’s not an agency in government that has to face that kind of problem,” he says. “Can you imagine a big city police force not having a chief for 4 1/2 years?”
And while that might suit the gun lobby, gun control advocates hope the shootings in Tucson will spur the administration to push for Traver’s confirmation.
For some reason, James “Waco Jim” Cavanaugh must be the only former ATF person in the mainstream media’s Rolodex. Rachel Maddow had him on within the last week and now NPR uses him to push their story. Heck, even the SPLC has used Waco Jim.