Tuesday, May 31, 2022


Every well-informed politics watcher knows that this is futile except the leadership of the Democratic Party:
The decision of the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, to try for a negotiated compromise on new gun laws in the wake of the latest pair of mass shootings may prove to be a high-stakes bet on representative democracy itself, made at a time when faith in Congress — and the Senate in particular — is in tatters in both parties.

... even if a compromise means scaling back gun control legislation, it would be worth it, said Senator Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, the Democrats’ chief negotiator, to get legislative momentum for more stringent measures and to reassure the parties and their voters that representative democracy can still function.

“We need to show Republicans that they can strengthen the background check system in a meaningful way and get politically rewarded for it,” he said in an interview. “That’s why I’m willing to look at things that might be less than what I would like.”
How many times do we have to go through this? How many times can we post that damn cartoon of Lucy pulling away the football as Charlie Brown tries to kick it?

Among the Republicans pretending to be interested in a compromise is Mitch McConnell. Greg Sargent understands what McConnell is up to:
... what might be in his interest is to make a show of reaching out, then ultimately to ensure that 10 Republican senators fail to materialize to support a deal. He can then blame Democratic intransigence for that failure, and he will have gotten headlines in the interim making Republicans appear open to a deal, at exactly the moment when public angst over the shooting is at its peak.

We’ve seen this before. When the House impeached Donald Trump over the violent Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection attempt, McConnell signaled openness to convicting Trump. This produced headlines proclaiming “McConnell open to convicting Trump in impeachment trial.”

But in the end he voted to acquit Trump, as was surely his intention all along. Then as now, he got headlines advertising his reasonableness at exactly the moment when public emotions (over the attack on the Capitol) were at their height.
Right, and McConnell and his allies won't just blame Democratic "intransigence." They'll claim the Democratic proposals were so extreme, so radical, so tyrannical, that they couldn't possibly agree to them. So they get to beat us and demonize us. They get to demonstrate our powerlessness and portray us as power-mad.

But if Democrats feel they must reach out to Republicans at this moment, they should start here:
The gunman who killed 19 children in a single classroom in Uvalde, Texas, wasn’t quite as prepared as the 18-year-old who killed ten people in a supermarket in a racist attack in Buffalo just 10 days before.

To protect themselves, both gunmen wore bulletproof vests known as tactical plate carriers, designed for soldiers to insert heavy ceramic plates in the front and back panels to protect their torsos from gunfire. In Buffalo, the shooter, according to a pre-rampage screed, wore expensive plates that could stop bullets from an AK-47 — and did stop a less powerful bullet fired from an armed guard’s handgun. But in Texas, officials say the shooter did not wear plates at all....

Even if the killer in Uvalde did not wear the vest as intended, he joins a growing line of American mass murderers who have turned to body armor to make their attacks more deadly. Over the past decade, the vests have become an increasingly common feature of such shootings, worn in a Boulder supermarket attack in 2021 that killed ten; the Sutherland Springs church shooting in 2017 that killed 26; the San Bernardino shooting in 2015 that killed 16; and the movie theater shooting in Aurora in 2012 that killed 12. The Pulse shooter who killed 49 people tried to buy one.
Democrats should announce that they're introducing a standalone bill this week to ban the sale of this kind of body armor to civilians, in addition to any efforts aimed directly at guns (and mental health and school safety). They should announce that they're open to discussions on the details, but that there really doesn't seem to be very much to negotiate.

If Republicans were acting in good faith, they'd have no reason to block this, for the simple reason that tactical plate carriers aren't guns. Not even under the most expansive reading of the Second Amendment could it be said that restricting access to them is unconstitutional.

But Republicans will express outrage anyway. They'll say the plain text of the Second Amendment doesn't matter and the Framers really would have said that no law can be written to restrict access to this armor. The Paul Gosars and Lauren Boeberts will say out loud what GOP voters are thinking: that the government has a constitutional obligation to give citizens access to anything that can help them overthrow that same government.

Once this happens, Democrats can stop negotiating on other issues. We'll see the plain evidence: Republicans don't act in good faith. They clearly don't want to do anything to lessen the carnage. Q.E.D.

Democrats won't do this, of course. And so Republicans will run out the clock, until another news story distracts us.

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