June 15, 2022

Bipartisan Gun Deal

“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his support Tuesday for his chamber’s emerging bipartisan gun agreement… The plan would for the first time make the juvenile records of gun buyers under age 21 part of required background checks. Money would be sent to states for mental health and school security programs and for incentives to enforce or enact local ‘red flag’ laws that let authorities win court approval to temporarily remove guns from people considered dangerous.” AP News

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From the Left

The left generally supports the proposals in the deal but argues that they are insufficient.

“The legislation is still being written, could still be derailed, and is far from perfect… But the bill could still have an impact

“Many mass shooters show warning signs prior to their attacks. Police were called to the home of the Parkland shooter 39 times in incidents involving him or his brother in the seven years prior to the 2018 assault on his former school. If a red-flag law — like the one passed by Florida Republicans after Parkland — were in place at the time, it’s possible that a state court could have seized his legally purchased guns after he made direct school-shooting threats if the police filed such an order…

“Federal law bans convicted domestic abusers from owning guns if they have been married to, have a child with, or have lived with their victim. The ‘boyfriend loophole’ refers to those domestic abusers who are not in those three categories being able to own guns. In 2017, Everytown for Gun Safety found that 23 percent of over 150 evaluated mass shootings involved a perpetrator with a reported history of domestic abuse… Closing the loophole could stop violent offenders from going on to commit mass shootings or other acts of gun violence.”

Matt Stieb, New York Magazine

Critics note that “while expanding access to and investment in mental health services is useful regardless of the reason, that alone can’t stop mass shootings. Nor can the proposed expansion of security measures in schools; although the framework is thin on details, it suggests investing in ‘programs to help institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, support school violence prevention efforts and provide training to school personnel and students.’ Theoretically, that could mean increasing the number of police officers at schools — who, as reporting continues to show, did not prevent the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.”

Ellen Ioanes, Vox

“[The] limited framework means no ban on assault weapons or high-capacity cartridges, which President Biden has repeatedly called for. No direct expansion of background checks to online sales and gun shows, which the senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey proposed in 2013. And no equalizing of the age at which young people can buy handguns and semi-automatic rifles. (The age requirement for purchasing handguns from licensed dealers is twenty-one; for rifles, it’s eighteen.)…

“After the loss of thirty-one more American lives to two separate shooters armed with AR-15-style rifles, both of whom had just turned eighteen, the refusal to raise the age requirement for semi-automatic rifles seems particularly absurd… In our broken political system, the fact that any deal was reached can be classified as progress. But progress has never seemed so slow, painful, and inadequate.”

John Cassidy, New Yorker

From the Right

The right is generally skeptical of gun control bills but open to considering some of the proposals in the deal.

The right is generally skeptical of gun control bills but open to considering some of the proposals in the deal.

“Subject to the details, we remain open to ‘red flag’ laws. But we remain steadfastly opposed to such measures being imposed — or micromanaged — from the federal level. A lack of funding has never been a key obstacle to the creation of state-level crisis intervention statutes, and it is not now, either. What, then, beyond preempting their designs, can be the purpose of a federal role? The same question obtains for the provisions providing funding for mental health, school safety, and telehealth…

“The framework’s other two ideas are defensible in outline, but one of them — a crackdown on straw purchasers and unlicensed gun dealers — is already the law and needs to be enforced, not reiterated, while the other (including more information in the background-check system) will depend entirely on the execution and would be better dealt with in a smaller, standalone bill.”

The Editors, National Review

“When you’re talking to 21st-century liberals about gun control, if you offer them a square inch they will try to take one hundred acres. It’s what they always do and they’ll do it again now. I’m not saying there aren’t positive steps that can be taken and there may be some in the current proposal. But there are also areas where you simply have to hold the line because the first crack in the wall will quickly turn into a breach in the dam…

“We should remember that the fundamental premise of all red flag laws boils down to one thing. They are an avenue to suspending or removing the constitutional rights of citizens before they have been convicted, or in some cases even charged or credibly accused of a crime. Once you do that, we’re back to the situation involving square inches and hundreds of acres I mentioned above.”

Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

Others argue, “Both Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) deserve praise for putting this deal together… The legislation includes more funding for mental health programs, a long-overdue move that one hopes will mark the beginning of a more hands-on approach to mental illness. And the outline proposes more money for school security, an obvious and necessary response to recent events…

“It is [also] right that deadly weapons should be taken away from people properly deemed psychotic or a genuine danger to others, but such laws must be tightly drafted and administered to avoid abuse. Some raise concerns because people can contest court orders only after they are issued, an apparent breach of due process…

“The Senate plan of adopting no one red flag law and leaving the details to states is the right way to go, as it will provide a body of case law — poorly drafted laws can be fine-tuned or thrown out, and good ones can become a model for others.”

Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

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