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Giffords campaigns for Hillary, 2016. Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords joined Nancy Pelosi in Washington yesterday to roll out a Democratic bill requiring background checks for all gun purchases, including private transactions and sales at gun shows. The bill, House Bill 8, was timed to mark the eight-year anniversary of the deadly shooting in Tucson during a meet-and-greet with Giffords in a Safeway parking lot. Six people died, including nine-year-old politics geek Christina-Taylor Green. She'd be a high school junior now. Maybe a kid who might have traveled to Washington last summer to protest guns.

Fifteen people were injured, including Giffords, who suffered permanent brain injury after being shot in the head. Giffords has since become a fearsome force for common-sense gun regulations, which has made her, of course, the subject of some truly vile reactions from the usual gun-humping suspects.

Now that we've had nearly two decades since Columbine to try out the "let's have more guns everywhere" approach, maybe it's time for a different strategy. Let's also not forget there was a "good guy with a gun" at the scene of the Tucson shooting -- and that thankfully, he decided not to shoot the guy he saw holding a gun. That was another good guy who had taken the gun away from the shooter.


Giffords and Pelosi were joined by all five Democrats in Arizona's House delegation, including newly elected Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who now represents -- after some redistricting -- the Tucson-based district that's more or less where Giffords served.

It's an emotional return to Washington for Giffords:

The background checks bill has bipartisan support, since a few Republicans aren't altogether terrorized by the NRA. In addition to Democratic sponsor Mike Thompson of California, New York Republican Peter King is cosponsoring HB 8. Nancy Pelosi assigned it the number HR 8 to mark the anniversary of the Tucson shooting, and because a low bill number is one way to indicate it's a damn priority.

In the Senate, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who represented Newtown in the House at the time of the Sandy Hook massacre, joined 40 other Democrats in introducing a companion background-check bill. Yeah, the Senate's Republican majority may quash any meaningful gun reform legislation for now, but it's important to get those NRA-supported asses on the record.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence noted in a statement that, following the shooting that injured Giffords,

the newly sworn in Republican House of Representatives mourned for their colleague, sent thoughts and prayers, and held moments of silence. But they did little else. The inaction continued in the GOP-led Congress for eight years.

Time for that to change. And of course all the usual idiots are gunsplaining that since background checks can't stop all shootings, then why even bother having them? After all, the guy who shot Giffords had passed a background check, haw haw, she is DUMB. As everyone knows, laws that don't eliminate problems are useless, which is precisely why so many states have abandoned speeding and drunk driving laws, which have failed to eliminate traffic deaths. The very folks who say gun regulations can't conceivably screen out people who have no business owning a gun also insist, of course, that we need very restrictive voter ID laws to eliminate a handful of voter impersonation cases.

So yes, HB 8 won't address everything on the gun-grabbing agenda -- it addresses only background checks, but that's still a big deal: Because background checks are currently only required for sales through federally licensed dealers, about a fifth of total gun sales involve no background check at all. The bill includes exemptions for some gun transfers, so please can the outraged editorials about the injustice of having to get government permission for granddad's hunting rifle to be given to Johnny on his 18th birthday -- that's exempt, as are temporarily loaning a friend a gun for hunting. (Action movie heroes will totally have to fill out a federal form before tossing an AR-15 to a sidekick, however. Darn liberal regulations!)

Like a lot of legislation being introduced in the House, this is mostly a political bill since Donald Trump would of course veto it. But it's also a promise for what Dems can do if they take the Senate and presidency in 2020, and this time around, the country isn't in any mood to let the NRA set the agenda.

[CNN / Slate / Arizona Republic / WaPo / Politico / Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0)

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CLEAR YOUR CALENDARS FOR FEBRUARY 7! And then fill them back up with whatever the fuck you want, because Michael Cohen has announced through his lawyers that he is too scared to testify before an open session of Congress that day, citing threats to his family from Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani.

Wonkette has no reason to believe Cohen isn't being serious here, and NBC News reports Cohen's wife and father-in-law are particularly concerned about their safety if the man who used to call his boss MIS-TURRRR TWUMP goes to Congress and tells the truth this time. Still, we must pause to note that this is the same guy who said this to NPR reporter Tim Mak, back when Mak was at The Daily Beast:

"I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we're in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don't have," Cohen told Mak [...] "And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know."

"So I'm warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I'm going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?"

It's not so fun when the shoe is on the other foot, IS IT, MICHAEL?

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Did Nancy Pelosi do something to give Donald Trump the mistaken impression he has leverage here? We don't remember her doing anything like that!

Trump sent Pelosi a letter this morning to say that, despite how she told him to stay the fuck out of her House because of his government shutdown, he would still be coming to the House on January 29 to deliver his State of the Union address. And for some weird-ass reason, Trump and his advisers in the White House actually thought she would back down. It's both hilarious and alarming that Trump and his people are that stupid, isn't it?

Anyway, Pelosi took the dare. She took the dare. Was there anybody besides those dumb fucking idiots in the White House who thought she wouldn't take the dare?

Pelosi sent a letter right back to Trump to kindly explain to him that no means "go fuck yourself," and that if he'd like her to stick her foot further up his ass and kick it around a bunch, he's welcome to test her some more:

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