Monday, June 13, 2022


This announcement seems like a breakthrough, but ultimately it won't be one:
A bipartisan group of senators announced Sunday that it had reached a tentative agreement on legislation that would pair modest new gun restrictions with significant new mental health and school security investments....

Twenty senators — 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans — signed a statement announcing the framework deal. The move indicated that the agreement could have enough GOP support to defeat a filibuster....
If any legislation can pass, it should be something modest like this that's only partly about guns:
Under the tentative deal, a federal grant program would encourage states to implement red-flag laws that allow authorities to keep guns away from people found by a judge to represent a potential threat to themselves or others, while federal criminal background checks for gun buyers younger than 21 would include a mandatory search of juvenile justice and mental health records for the first time.

Other provisions would prevent gun sales to a broader group of domestic violence offenders, closing what is often called the “boyfriend loophole”; clarify which gun sellers are required to register as federal firearms dealers and, thus, run background checks on customers; and establish new federal offenses related to gun trafficking....

Other provisions would funnel billions of new federal dollars into mental health care and school security programs, funding behavioral intervention programs, new campus infrastructure and armed officers. One cornerstone of the deal is legislation sponsored by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to establish a nationwide network of “community behavioral health clinics,” though the framework does not yet include an agreed funding level for that program or others.
Even this isn't in it:
The agreement does not include a provision supported by President Biden, congressional Democrats and a handful of Republicans that would raise the minimum age for the purchase of at least some rifles from 18 to 21. Handguns are already subject to a federal 21-and-older rule.
We're told that ten Republicans are on board -- and that among the Democrats who joined the agreement are Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. So it's a done deal, right? Well, no:
The framework announced Sunday amounts to a statement of principles, not a fully written bill....

“The details will be critical for Republicans, particularly the firearms-related provisions,” said a GOP aide familiar with the talks. “One or more of these principles could be dropped if text is not agreed to.”

Money also stands to be a sticking point. The framework proposes funding commitments that could easily run into the billions of dollars, and Republicans want any new spending to be offset with cuts elsewhere in the federal budget, people involved in the negotiations said.
That's the first sign that this won't pass. The second sign is that Mitch McConnell, who has said he's open to a gun safety bill, is noncommittal on this one:
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not formally endorse the deal in a statement Sunday but offered encouragement to the negotiators.

“I continue to hope their discussions yield a bipartisan product that makes significant headway on key issues like mental health and school safety, respects the Second Amendment, earns broad support in the Senate, and makes a difference for our country,” McConnell said.
Also, the NRA isn't on board:
An NRA spokeswoman said Sunday that the group “will make our position known when the full text of the bill is available for review.”

“The NRA will continue to oppose any effort to insert gun-control policies, initiatives that override constitutional due process protections, and efforts to deprive law-abiding citizens of their fundamental right to protect themselves and their loved ones into this or any other legislation,” said the spokeswoman, Amy Hunter.
But if you still think maybe this time is different, look at a calendar. It's an election year. Republicans know it will demotivate their base nationwide if they allow this bill to pass. Even though four of the Republican senators who agreed to this framework are retiring (Blunt, Burr, Portman, and Toomey) and none of the others are up for reelection this year (Cassidy, Collins, Cornyn, Graham, Romney, and Tillis), the base would be inclined to punish the entire party if even ten Republicans allowed the libs to own them this way. (Republicans block gun bills even in off years, of course -- after Sandy Hook, the Manchin-Toomey bill failed in 2013.)

At least one of the ten Republicans who agreed to this framework will have to back away in order to prevent the legislation from passing. (Republicans, who protect their own, won't isolate one senator that way, so several will undoubtedly turn against the bill.) The excuse will be that the few gun provisions really do, as the right sees it, "deprive law-abiding citizens of their fundamental right to protect themselves and their loved ones," or that the funding is too much, or that Democrats won't agree to offset the spending with the precise mix of budget cuts Republicans demand, or that the elimination of the boyfriend loophole protects lesbians or gay men or trans people or, who knows, maybe people in throuples? (I don't care where you are on the gender spectrum or what kind of non-traditional relationship you're in, you deserve to be shielded from gun violence if a partner is threatening you, but I'm sure Republicans would be happy to announce angrily that they don't agree.)

And then in the right-wing news silo the message will go out that Republicans were reasonable, but radical left socialist Democrats killed the bill. And so the libs will be owned, the football will be yanked away from Charlie Brown yet again, and victory will be achieved. Rinse and repeat, ad infinitum.

No comments: