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Kamala Harris rolled out a plan yesterday on what she wants Congress to do about guns within her first 100 days as president -- and if Congress won't do it, she'll take executive action. Get ready for the usual gunhumpers to moan that her plan would simultaneously destroy liberty and do absolutely nothing.

From Congress, Harris wants to see, finally, a universal background check law. That's certainly doable; the House passed such a bill earlier this year, although of course it's currently DOA in the Senate. We could change that in 2020 maybe! In addition, Harris wants Congress to bring back the assault weapons ban and repeal that stupid 2005 gift to the NRA, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which prohibits liability lawsuits against gun manufacturers and gun dealers. And if Congress still has enough Republicans who keep voting with the NRA to block those and other measures, Harris will take executive action, by which we mean, of course, "do tyranny," like the time Barack Obama did tyranny with a cell phone fee of four dollars a year.


If universal background checks aren't passed, Harris offers a couple of suggestions that might work from an administrative standpoint. Currently, all federally licensed firearms dealers must do background checks, but about a fifth of gun purchases take place between private parties -- at gun shows or through online sales. And that's a BIG loophole, Team Harris notes:

As a result of this loophole, these gun sellers are not required to conduct background checks by federal law, and millions of guns are sold each year with no questions asked in the 30 states without universal background checks. This is how dangerous people buy guns: about 80% of all firearms acquired for criminal purposes are bought through unlicensed sellers.

So if Congress won't regulate those sales, Harris would change the definition of which sellers need a federal firearms license: Any business or person selling five or more firearms a year would now be a "dealer" who needs licensure, and hence would have to do background checks. Yr Wonkette is not a lawyer, but that sounds like it would probably fall within the executive branch's authority. Sure, the guy selling stolen guns out of his van won't be applying for a license, but this policy would also hand prosecutors another tool to go after such already-illegal activity.

And if the Merchants of Death Protection Act isn't revoked altogether, Harris nonetheless sees some options, like revoking the federal firearms license of gun dealers that flagrantly break laws.

Under our plan, any willful and serious violation of federal, state, or local law will lead to a license being revoked. This includes conduct the PLCAA often protects, such as violating negligence laws by selling a gun to a straw purchaser, violating public nuisance laws by supplying dealers that consistently sell guns used in crimes, or violating unfair business practices statutes by marketing assault weapons to children in video games.

That last line, frankly, sounds kind of dumb to us, but the rest looks viable. Further, Harris would pursue federal lawsuits against bad actors in the gun business. But what about the PLCAA's prohibition on suing gun manufacturers and dealers? The proposal points out that while the law "may prevent victims of gun violence from taking bad actors to court, it can't stop the federal government." Crafty! In a related suggestion, she would direct that fines levied on firearms dealers be dedicated to funding mental health treatment and violence prevention programs.

Harris would also take action to close the "boyfriend loophole" in laws prohibiting gun sales to people convicted of domestic violence. It's already illegal for abusers to buy guns, but that prohibition may not apply when the abuser was dating their victim but not married to or living with them. Since "nearly half of all intimate partner homicides are committed by a dating partner," Harris wants that loophole closed. As the proposal says, "People convicted of domestic abuse shouldn't be able to buy guns just because they're not married to the person they abused."

Finally, Harris would close another loophole the Trump administration opened up through through administrative action of its own:

In February 2017, the Trump Administration quietly narrowed the definition of "fugitive from justice" for purposes of determining when a person is prohibited from buying a gun. Now, a gun sale is not denied to a fugitive from justice unless it can be shown that individual fled a state "for the purpose" of avoiding charges.

Christ, that's nuts. The proposal points out there was a 65 percent drop in gun sales being blocked by that "fugitive from justice" prohibition after the rule change, resulting in "thousands of gun sales being approved to individuals with outstanding arrest warrants." Then again, almost all of those crimers were American citizens, and since the only bad guys with guns Republicans care about are undocumented immigrants, what's the big deal?

Harris pledges that this proposal is only a start on what she'd like to see in terms of reducing the carnage for guns; for the first 100 days, this isn't bad! We'd love to see other candidates say they'd do the same -- or more?

[Kamala Harris / NYT]

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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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