Tuesday, June 14, 2022

One Small Step

The Senate has come up with a gun-control bill that is a start…

The Washington Post ran an altogether remarkable paragraph on Monday to kick off its coverage of the bipartisan agreement on gun violence that emerged over the weekend. This was it.

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 — a deal that could put Congress on a path to enacting the most significant national response in decades to acts of mass gun violence.

It could do that. It could also provide a lake of stew, and of whiskey, too, that you can paddle around in a big canoe. Even assuming that the plan passes the Senate at all, which is still not a mortal lock, to assume that this is some sort of stepping-stone toward more toothsome gun control regulations seems to be wildly optimistic. Remember those heady days when the Affordable Care Act was supposed to put us all on the road to universal healthcare and Medicare For All? All that’s actually happened is that the ACA has been fighting for its own life ever since. Republican governors even refused the FREE MONEY!!! available to them to expand Medicaid coverage, and then they bragged about it. Keep that part of the story in mind as we go along here.

I do not in any way mean to disparage the hard work done by Senator Chris Murphy and the others to pry the agreement they got out of the Republican morass that is the Senate minority caucus. The provisions of the bill are certainly helpful with regard to a number of the country’s problems. The difficulty comes when one realizes that one of the problems being addressed is decidedly not Too Many Damn Guns, and also, that there are a number of self-destruct mechanisms built in to the agreement.

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.

I trust that I don’t have to explain the problem with a program to “encourage” states to do things, especially when those states are run by conservative Republican governors and conservative Republican legislatures. Generally, history tells us, this money, assuming the state even accepts it, ends up in the general budget, and/or someone’s cousin’s concrete and asphalt business. Hell, just light that money on fire on Main Street and shoot it full of holes.

However, this pale pastel of a framework is the only kind of bill with a ghost of a chance of bringing along 10 Republicans in the Senate. And even so, the flying monkeys went predictably ballistic. Rep. Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician who claimed the former president* was the Slenderman, leaped to the electric Twitter machine to lose most of his shit.

I WILL NOT support the horrendous anti 2nd Amendment bill that’s being proposed in the Senate. It’s AWFUL! This is a MASSIVE violation of your Constitutional rights, and it MUST be rejected!

Rep. Andy Biggs chimed in with the customary paranoia:

The House’s recently passed gun control legislation would not have prevented the Uvalde or Buffalo mass shootings. This legislation is part of a broader goal to take all of our guns and erode the Second Amendment.

And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene gabble-gooble-red-flags-gobble:

There should be ZERO votes for red flag laws in the @HouseGOP. Stop helping Joe Biden and the Democrats hurt Americans. The people will not forget.

And so on.

I hope the thing passes. But I’m not going to fall for the alleged magical powers of the word “bipartisan” to turn chickenshit into chicken salad. This is a good start in the same way that making sure your shoes are tied is a good start to a marathon.

It’s not much, but it’s better than “thoughts and prayers.”

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