The New York Times (and plenty of other news outlets) has reported that we have a gun control bill that can make it through the Senate. Hoo-fucking-ray! Let’s look back on what’s happened the last 4 months. Mass murders in America every few days. About 40 gun suicides per day. About 25 gun murders per day. But we can’t talk about limits on handguns even though they are used in the overwhelming majority of gun related deaths. Let me rephrase that: it isn’t that such handgun limits would be impossible to get through Congress, it is that we can’t even talk about them. (Except for extremists like me.)
So after Sandy Hook, what do we get? The most liberal among us called for a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines as well as background checks for all gun purchases. Well, right off the top the assault weapons ban was thrown away. I can’t say that I care that much. Assault weapons are, after all, just scary looking guns; what makes them most dangerous are their 30 round banana clips. But there was still hope that we might be able to limit magazine sizes to 10.
To work NRA! This floors me. Really! The main argument I heard about limiting magazines to 10 was, “Why 10? Why not 9? Why not 11?” That’s what passes for serious debate in America. The answer, of course, is that everyone thought that number was a good compromise between interfering with the fun of gun enthusiasts and protecting society from the harm from (I’ll just say it!) gun enthusiasts. Related to this tactic is the “It won’t do any good!” argument. Moderates try to placate the NRA crowd by limiting their proposals. Then the NRA comes in and (rightly) argues, “It won’t do much good.” Okay then, how about a handgun ban? Oops! I forgot, we can’t talk about that. (It might cause the NRA to explode.)
Okay, so forget the magazines. Now we are limited to background checks, which, of course, the NRA (rightly) argues would not have prevented Sandy Hook. But okay, moving on… The arguments against universal background checks are truly frustrating. We already have a background check system. But the NRA crowd is arguing that fully implementing it (eliminating loopholes) would be tyranny—tyranny, I tell you! That can only be true if the existing law is tyranny. But none of them are willing to admit that. Hey, the NRA is nuts, but even they know that argument would never fly.
So after all, it looks like the Senate will be able to pass a law that will partially reform the background check system. It will now require background checks of individual sales at gun shows. I haven’t seen the legislation (and I’m not going to wade through it anyway), so I can’t say if it allows other loopholes, like individual gun sales at bake “wink, wink” sales. Regardless, people will continue to be able to buy guns without background checks through private sellers at their homes or out of their car trunks.
There’s still one thing I don’t understand. I guess it is assumed that the House will be forced to allow a vote on this bill if the Senate passes it. But is that true? Won’t Boehner just be able to run the clock out on the bill? I know the optics would be very bad, but I hardly think it would negatively affect Boehner. But maybe the NRA crowd is satisfied. In fact, I suspect they would have been satisfied with more legislation. They knew something was coming and were just trying to limit the damage. And what they got was something more conservative than what they were in favor of only 10 years ago.
Take a moment to bask in this great liberal victory.