House Passes Protect Our Kids Act. Unfortunately, Senate Exists.
Two weeks ago, an 18-year-old psychopath with an AR-15 massacred 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a major gun safety bill that could prevent further horror shows. The Protecting Our Kids Act raises the minimum age for the purchase of most semiautomatic rifles to 21 and bans high-capacity ammunition magazines.
From the Washington Post:
Besides the minimum-age measure and the ban on high-capacity magazines, the House legislation passed Wednesday includes proposals that would crack down on gun trafficking, create new safe-storage requirements for gun owners, and codify executive orders that ban untraceable “ghost guns” as well as “bump stock” devices that allow a semiautomatic rifle to mimic machine-gun fire.
Republicans mostly ranted and raved, denouncing the bill as a direct attack on the Second Amendment, which has served the undertaking industry so well. Five Republicans, including Adam Kinzinger, supported the bill, and two gun-humping Democrats voted against it (Rep. Jared Golden from Maine and soon-to-be former Rep. Kurt Schrader from Oregon). However, the bill is expected to go nowhere fast in the Senate, which Democrats only technically control thanks to the dreaded filibuster.
It’s hard to envision what sort of Monkey’s Paw gun bill might eventually emerge from the Senate. Shortly after the Texas gun massacre, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy seemed cautiously optimistic when discussing ongoing negotiations with Republicans.
[T]here are more Republicans interested in talking about finding a path forward this time than I have ever seen since Sandy Hook. And while, in the end, I may end up being heartbroken, I am at the table in a more significant way right now with Republicans and Democrats than ever before. Certainly many more Republicans willing to talk right now than were willing to talk after Sandy Hook.
It’s true that Republicans were more willing to talk after the Uvalde, Texas, massacre. Unfortunately, most of what they had to say was dribbling nonsense. We were treated to straight-faced appeals for door control and an army of Rambo teachers. There were also the usual broadsides against violent video games and single mothers. You gotta love the classics.
However, Murphy remained undaunted. He insists he won’t let "the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
\u201cOn "The View," Sen. @ChrisMurphyCT (D) acknowledges Democrats are forgoing large provisions of gun control legislation in the name of compromise:\n\n"I'm not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good."\u201d— The Recount (@The Recount) 1654631885
During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Murphy conceded that any bipartisan bill that could get 60 votes wouldn’t ban assault weapons or include comprehensive background checks. However, the bill might provide increased mental health funding, additional safety measures for schools, and some "modest" gun control regulations.
"We're not going to do everything I want,” Murphy said.
That also includes raising the minimum age for purchasing AR-15s. Sen. Thom Tillis from North Carolina, who’s involved in the bipartisan talks, expressed skepticism: "When I think of that, I think do we take a look at the age you can enlist in the military? So there are a lot of complexities to that question.”
Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey is an actor not a senator, but he does seemingly comprehend the difference between trained military personnel and random unhinged teens. Tuesday, venturing into the belly of the beast on Fox News, McConaughey told Brett Baier: "[You] go into the military with an intent and purpose. Even going into the military, it's, like, over a week of training before they're putting a live round into that semiautomatic. We're talking about in a civil society to be able to purchase that kind of weapon, and then that afternoon do what you will with it? I think we could be more responsible than that, yes, sir, I do.”
Unfortunately, Murphy and other Senate Democrats aren’t negotiating with McConaughey, an actual serious person, but are wasting their time with moronic Republicans who insist that people need AR-15s to kill “varmints.” Considering what an AR-15 does to living tissue, they might as well recommend rocket launchers for termites.
Hell, even some (extremely) few Democrats, like Senator Jon Tester from Montana, decline to support raising the minimum age for assault weapons, which is about as total a gimme for "give the country what it wants" as a Democrat could encounter. It is damn dispiriting.
\u201cJohn Cornyn says mass shootings "are a symptom of a larger problem," which isn't guns but "is the failure of our mental health system in America."\u201d— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1654718690
Republicans like to generally scapegoat people with mental health issues when dismissing calls for gun control. Senator John Cornyn from Texas said Wednesday that mass shootings "are a symptom of a larger problem” and represent “the failure of our mental health system.” People struggled with mental health issues even during the right-wing’s romanticized “Leave It To Beaver” past where women were in the kitchen and queer people were in the closet. However, US gun laws have steadily weakened. This is not a riddle of the Sphinx.
We are glad the House bill passed, even if it’s ultimately symbolic. Americans can at least see what Democrats can achieve when they’re in the majority and the GOP doesn’t wield a minority veto. We can easily compare the Protect Our Kids Act with whatever Senate Republicans grudgingly approve. Unfortunately, the difference might quite literally be life and death.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."