Wednesday, August 07, 2019


It's unlikely that other gun proposals can pass, but The New York Times really believes that a national red flag law is imminent:
Congressional Republicans, under intense pressure to respond to this weekend’s massacres, are coalescing around legislation to help law enforcement take guns from those who pose an imminent danger — a measure that, if signed into law, would be the most significant gun control legislation enacted in 20 years.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican, told his hometown newspaper, The Argus Leader, that he was “confident Congress will be able to find common ground on the so-called red flag issue.” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, has already proposed legislation that would offer federal grants to states to help them enact and enforce red flag laws, also known as “extreme risk protection orders.”

And [Mitch] McConnell has asked three committee chairmen to “reflect on the subjects the president raised” and hold bipartisan talks of “potential solutions.”
I'm not buying it. McConnell's words are obviously noncommittal and weaselly. Thune's words are also far from a guarantee. (One possible translation: "We're not going to do this, but we're searching for a way to blame Democrats when we don't.")

Keep in mind that the Senate is in recess until September 6. Unless people with pitchforks and torches lay siege to McConnell's house, there's no way he's going to bring the Senate back into session, even if the House reconvenes. The weekend's shootings are all we can talk about now, but we'll lose interest by next month.

The reason a national red flag law won't happen is that Republicans still fear of opposition from right-wing ideologues. The Times story says that "President Trump endorsed the idea on Monday in a speech from the White House, giving skittish Republicans cover to embrace it," but his imprimatur won't be enough cover for them.

At Townhall, Michelle Malkin calls red flag laws an "American version of China's social credit system." At National Review, Kevin Williamson argues that some "illiberal" Democrats "have called for gutting the Bill of Rights and trampling on due process, empowering government to curtail, suspend, or revoke the civil rights of Americans who have not been arrested or charged with any crime, much less convicted of one." And here's Rush Limbaugh on the subject:
Do you know what a red flag law is? Well, a red flag law is a law which would allow law enforcement to identify a deranged individual before he goes out and shoots. In other words, you could apprehend somebody before they do it if they exhibit red flag-type behavior, like if they’re mentally ill or if they’ve attended a Trump rally, or who knows what it would be.

It is a pipeline to gun control, and the Republicans are signing on to it so fast today, your head can’t spin fast enough to keep up with it because, of course, everybody’s got to try to mollify the media.

... I think it’s their way of incrementally getting what they want, which is your gun or guns.

... Believe me, they want your guns. They want everybody’s guns. They’re just like the communists: They want your guns. They want full confiscation....

They’re not only gonna chip away at the Second Amendment but the Fourth and Fifth Amendments as well. I mean, it’s a... Make no mistake what the left wants with red flag laws.
Limbaugh isn't convinced that this will happen. He thinks it's gamesmanship from Trump. ("Trump hasn’t agreed to it. He just agreed to talk to them about it, which just in a political sense kind of takes the energy of the issue away from them.") I think Trump is semi-sincere -- remember, he comes from a city where support for gun control isn't necessarily seen as liberal. (Even the former tough-guy Republican mayor, Trump ally Rudy Giuliani, was a gun control advocate, as were Giuliani's stop-and-frisk-loving police commissioners.) But Trump wants a quid pro quo for a gun bill, as he said on Twitter on Monday, when he suggested swapping a background-check bill for hard-line immigration legislation. Will he sign a bill without that kind of deal?

I do see some on the right backing red flag laws -- National Review's David French, Townhall's Guy Benson, not to mention eyepatch-wearing future GOP presidential nominee Dan Crenshaw, although he supports them only at the state level.

Even for that, he's getting an earful.

I predict that anger, McConnell's delay tactics, and possibly a Trump demand for a tradeoff will kill this proposal at the national level.

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