Sunday afternoon the framework of a gun bill was announced. It still has to be written, pass both chambers and be signed by the president before it becomes law. Assuming it passes, which is far from a forgone conclusion, it will almost undoubtedly be watered down. So I wouldn’t count any chickens just yet however I’d like to spend the next few paragraphs reviewing just what has been announced as of this writing.
The bill will contain funding for intervention support. This will basically take the form of block grants to the states to help implement red flag laws. This is a favorite trick of Republicans to channel funding back to their home states. Do you really want to trust people like Greg Abbott of Texas, Kay Ivey of Alabama and Ron DeSantis of Florida?
While the age for purchasing an assault type rifle would remain unchanged this bill will provide funding – another block grant – for states to implement enhanced checking prior to a person under 21 being allowed to purchase said firearm. The best part of this is the slight “cooling off” period it will necessitate. Again, do you think this will be uniformly enforced across all fifty states?
Penalties for straw purchases will be addressed. I find it shocking that such laws don’t already exist. If you want effective enforcement you better hope the feds do it! I can’t imagine many Bubba sheriffs aggressively enforcing this law!
Money for mental health services, yet another block grant, is also included. I agree that mental health funding (shooting related or not) is insufficient but that alone will far from make a significant dent in the problem of mass shootings. This will be yet another block grant open to “creative interpretations”.
One of the provisions is a clarification of the definition of a licensed dealer. Do you mean to tell me that this already doesn’t have a clear definition? Requiring a federal license to sell a gun period is the clear and simple answer. How difficult is that?
The biggest give away to Republicans is the enhanced federal funding, (did I say block grant yet?), for in school services and “hardening”. The counseling, if properly administer is great. The more supposed good guys with a gun theory has repeatedly proven to be inadequate at best and an abject failure in too many cases. I see red states turning this into an arm the teachers and staff programs.
After the inevitable shooting of a student by a teacher or staff member what are the Republicans going to want to do next; arm the students so they can shoot back? Maybe we need James Bond style cars with machine guns; I bet that would make people think twice before they engaged in incidents of road rage.
While no legislation will be a panacea real change would include an assault type rifle ban for all but the military and law enforcement, universal background checks, the banning of high capacity clips, mandatory liability insurance for gun owners and repealing the liability shield gun manufacturers enjoy. Of course, all of those were non-starters for the Republicans. I didn’t expect the Democrats to get all of them but they didn’t even get one of them despite overwhelming public support for most of them.
I very much believe in not making the perfect the enemy of the good; but this proposed legislation doesn’t even reach the good level. It’s better than nothing but not by much.
To use another analogy, it’s not a half a loaf, perhaps a few slices sans butter or jam but more likely just a few crumbs.
Democrats in Congress will be forced to support it. Red state Republicans will exploit it. Assuming it takes effect after the next mass shooting the Republicans will simply say that they did something and that gun legislation doesn’t work.
If I was in the Senate I’d have to vote for it but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a crummy deal. Should this be enacted into law a lot of elected officials of both parties will be running around claiming they did a great job. Perhaps we should treat them appropriately and give them participation trophies like in T-ball; they certainly didn’t win a championship!
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