Monday, April 15, 2013

Gun bill could be worse than nothing

By Frank Moraes 

(Ed. note: I take a similar view of Manchin-Toomey, supposedly a wonderful bipartisan compromise, in a post I put up this morning -- see here. -- MJWS)

Have you seen the opening to this past weekend's Saturday Night Live? (You can also watch it here.) The skit makes fun of what I wrote about last week: "The Great Liberal Gun Policy Victory." In the end, I argued, what we would get is a law that is almost useless. I'm never one to avoid accountability, so let me lay it on the line: I was wrong.

The law would be worse than useless.

Karen Tumulty and Ed O'Keefe reported at The Washington Post, "Gun Debate in Senate Likely to Feature Amendments to Weaken or Strengthen Laws." They pointed out that the gun lobby and their pals "are working on a series of amendments that could have the opposite effect -- loosening many of the restrictions that exist in current law."

What kind of amendments? Things that far outweigh anything positive in the bill:

Most worrisome to those who advocate new gun limits is an expected amendment that would achieve one of the National Rifle Association's biggest goals: a "national reciprocity" arrangement, in which a gun owner who receives a permit to carry a concealed weapon in any one state would then be allowed to do that anywhere in the country. Other pro-gun proposals would make it easier for dealers to sell their merchandise between states or let certain people who had been treated for mental illness regain the right to buy weapons.

You may be wondering, what are those amendments that could "strengthen" the law that the title of the article refers to. Well, in the article, they only mentioned one: the assault weapons ban. And they noted that it has effectively no chance of passing. But that concealed carry reciprocity? Last time the Senate voted on it, it got 58 votes.

Things are not quite as bad as it seems, however. Everyone thinks that if these amendments get passed, it will just kill the bill. And maybe that is for the best. As Jonathan Chait noted this morning, "Any real effort to address the plague of mass gun violence will require not a catalyzing event, or even a string of them, but years of organizing and effort." I would only add that the liberals have to stop meeting conservatives 90% of the way. The worse case scenario, as we see with concealed carry reciprocity, is much worse than 100% failure.

Wouldn't it be sad if our response to Sandy Hook was to make such tragedies more likely.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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