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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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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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