Senate Ready To Pass Gun Bill After All? Huh!
The Senate appears ready to actually pass a real bipartisan gun bill, modest though it may be, after a procedural vote yesterday moved the legislation forward on a 64-34 vote yesterday. It's likely to get a final vote by the end of the week, which is encouraging. The vote came a few hours after the bipartisan negotiators released the text of the bill and announced that they had overcome Republican qualms that had appeared to put the bill in danger last week.
All 50 Democrats in the Senate voted to move the bill forward, as did 14 Republicans, including lead GOP negotiators Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina). In a statement, the negotiators, who also included Democrats Chris Murphy (Connecticut) and Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona), said,
Our legislation will save lives and will not infringe on any law-abiding American’s Second Amendment rights. [...] We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our commonsense legislation into law.
Modest though the "Bipartisan Safer Communities Act" is, it does include provisions that are likely to reduce some gun deaths. Most notably, it funds grants to states to implement "red flag" laws that allow judges to temporarily take guns away from people who are a threat to themselves or others. As we've noted, red flag laws really do save lives, and even prevent mass shootings.
The bill also closes the "boyfriend loophole" by prohibiting gun ownership by those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse or stalking of a dating partner or recent dating partner, and enhances background checks by allowing checks of juvenile records before a firearm purchase.
Other provisions clarify who must register as a federal firearms dealer (It's this one guy named Dave), and also will crack down on gun trafficking and illegal "straw purchases" of firearms, like when a person with a clean criminal record buys a gun from that asshole Dave on behalf of someone who's prohibited from owning a gun. People pardoned by Donald Trump will still be able to buy all the guns they want.
Also too, the Texas Tribune explains, the bill
includes $11 billion for mental health services and $2 billion for community-based antiviolence programs. It also includes money to help young people access mental health services via telemedicine, money for more school-based mental health centers and support for suicide hotlines.
Gosh, those are the sorts of things a civilized nation should already have, even without horrific massacres persuading a few Republicans to talk about "mental health" instead of doing anything about guns.
As we noted last week, Republican negotiators created a lot of drama about the bill's support for red flag laws and the closure of the "boyfriend loophole," because what is a "recent" dating partner and how dare we keep stalkers from protecting themselves from Antifa? Politico explains the bill offers an out for first-time offenders if they keep their noses clean:
The legislation would change federal law so that if a person has a misdemeanor conviction for assaulting a dating partner or a recent former dating partner, they would be barred from purchasing a firearm. Under the deal, that person’s right to purchase a firearm would be reinstated after five years if he or she is not involved in any violent acts or felonies during that period. This would apply to people in this newly created category who are first-time offenders.
We'll see how that works in practice; if it turns out that guns are returned to people who then go on to kill former partners — which seems a real possibility — that may need revision. Haha, as if Congress will pass another gun law in the next 30 years. Also, as the New York Times points out, the prohibition on gun ownership for non-married abusers can't be applied retroactively, so only partners of recent or future abuse or stalking can dare a sigh of relief. Maybe it'll be of some comfort that bipartisan compromise is allegedly how great laws get passed.
The Times also notes that in addition to providing funding for new red flag laws — but not a federal one, so red states can continue to insist that taking away the guns of someone who has, say, threatened schoolchildren is tyranny and decline to instate them — the bill will also give grants to support
what Mr. Cornyn described as “crisis intervention programs,” including programs related to mental health courts, drug courts and veterans courts.
Still, it's a hell of a lot better than anything that's been passed since the last major gun law in this country, way back in 1994 when we first got the national background check law and the 10-year assault weapons ban that George W. Bush allowed to expire. Congress has nibbled around the provisions of the background system since then without making it significantly better, and it's still possible for people to sell used guns in private transactions without a background check.
As you'd expect, gunhumpers immediately whined that the very small changes to national gun laws would be unconstitutional and would "make gun owners second class citizens." Missouri candidate for US Senate Eric Greitens, who recently ran an ad fantasizing about hunting and murdering fellow Republicans, called it a "gun confiscation bill" and claimed it would be "one of the most anti-2A laws ever passed." Also, fuck that guy. Needless to say, the National Rifle Association condemned it as well.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida), who as Florida governor supported a much more robust gun law following the 2018 massacre in Parkland, Florida (including a state red flag law), voted against the Senate bill because he still thinks he can be president some day.
Even so, the bill has the support of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted to advance it yesterday, so it's likely to pass before the July 4 recess, and then it should easily pass the House and be signed into law.
Like, unless five Senate Republicans suddenly decide to not vote for it and it's killed off by the filibuster. But what are the odds of a last-minute reversal by Republicans, huh?
Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 a month to help us keep this little mommyblog mommyblogging!
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.