The gun safety bill that House and Senate leaders unveiled Monday is very strong. If passed as proposed, it will give the state what will arguably be the toughest gun safety laws in the country.The Chicago Sun-Times editorial board focuses on the need for a strong universal background check system:
That's as it should be. Newtown happened here and the country is watching Connecticut. The feckless wonders in Congress are backing off, cowed again by the man behind the curtain, the National Rifle Association. If Connecticut doesn't take the lead to lessen the impact of one of the worst public health problems in the country, the movement could wither.
That's why we'd like to see one part of the bill made stronger, and that concerns large-capacity magazines, here defined as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The bill immediately bans the sale or purchase of large-capacity magazines going forward. But it allows those who already have them to keep them, and then ties itself in knots creating hard-to-enforce restrictions on their use. Just ban the damn things, as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and some parents of Newtown victims have requested.
Without a universal system of background checks, the guns will keep flowing. Last year, Chicago police confiscated 7,400 guns that were used in crimes or were illegally owned, but more firearms quickly arrived on the streets to replace them. Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has likened trying to stop the torrent to drinking out of a firehose.Head below the fold for more analysis from papers across the country.
The NRA opposes universal background checks. It helped push through a measure that prohibits the FBI from hanging on for longer than 24 hours to records of those who pass the existing background check system. That makes it hard to spot a pattern of straw purchases. Lawmakers should not be swayed by the NRA on this issue.
Waiting for the U.S. Senate to act, though, is not enough. We need to act on the state level, too.
Cook County in Illinois is adding a $25 tax to all firearm purchases and is standing firm in the face of lawsuits:
The anticipated $600,000 in revenue from the new tax will help the county’s health and hospital system, Preckwinkle said. About 30 percent of trauma patients last year at Stroger Hospital were gunshot victims, she said, and each cost taxpayers about $52,000 to treat.Adam Clark Estes at The Atlantic looks at the NRA's next push:
Last month, a group of Chicago area firearms dealers and owners sued over the tax, claiming it violates their constitutional rights. Preckwinkle said that group failed to secure an injunction from a judge to temporarily stop the tax, and she said “we don’t calculate whether or not people are going to sue us when we look at reasonable gun policies.”
While it's no secret that the organization has perfected the art of lobbying over the years, they appear to have performed an opus of sorts on Capitol Hill in the past few weeks. Not only has the Senate bill been heavily diluted, but the NRA now has lawmakers parroting its points. Evidence actually suggests that the NRA might help kill the expanded background checks portion of the bill, despite the fact that it was one of the less controversial parts just a couple of months before. "We are in better shape now than our critics and even some within our ranks believed possible when this battle started," NRA president David Keene told The Huffington Post's Howard Fineman as this chapter was coming to a close late last month. All the while, folks like Hutchinson, who is also running for Governor in Arkansas, kept returning to this idea that the Obama administration and friends have a "hidden agenda" to take away everybody's guns.Margaret Hartmann at New York Magazine looks at the NRA's unrelenting assault on reasonable gun control measures:
A week after President Obama suggested that we as a nation should be ashamed of ourselves for forgetting about the Newtown tragedy so quickly, he plans to make a similar call for more gun control at a visit to a Colorado police academy on Wednesday. However, despite the president's ongoing effort to keep the campaign for reform alive, it seems increasingly unlikely that even some of the mildest federal gun control measures will pass. The NRA's lobbying efforts in Congress appear to be going over better than its disastrous public response to the Sandy Hook shooting, and the group is currently pushing language that would undercut the proposal to make gun trafficking a federal crime.Richard G. Thomas lays out the history of NRA control of Congress:
The Senate will start debating gun legislation when Congress returns from its two week Easter recess next week, and the Washington Post reports that senators are currently going over the legislative language with various interest groups, including the NRA and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Last month the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a plan to increase penalties for straw purchases, or buying a gun for someone who can't pass a background check. According to the Post, NRA lobbyists are pushing a revision that would make it much harder to prosecute gun traffickers...
After Congress conducted no gun votes in 2012, the Senate last month handed the NRA a victory by blocking President Obama’s nomination of Caitlin J. Halligan for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She crossed the NRA in 2003 by asserting that gun manufacturers could be sued for the misuse of their products by third parties. She was solicitor general for New York State at the time.The Atlantic's Dominic Tierney on "the great gun gobbledygook" and how hardliners want more guns to protect themselves from the government while also wanting increased military spending:
And in policy wins occurring without benefit of record votes and the accompanying public scrutiny, NRA-backed lawmakers in recent years have hemmed in the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives by steps such as limiting its budget, restricting its ability to gather records of gun sales and refusing to allow the Senate to confirm an AFT director.
Since passage of the assault weapons ban in 1994, the House and Senate have conducted at least 48 substantive votes on gun issues, with lawmakers aligned with the NRA winning about 80 percent of the time. On those rare occasions when a pro-control measure passed one chamber or the other, it was eliminated later in the legislative process.
The specter of government despotism looms so large our only salvation lies with a nation of armed watchmen.Peter Hart at FAIR points out that no, the public hasn't given up on gun control.
But curiously, Rubio also strongly supports beefing up government power by creating a vast military establishment. In 2012, he described defense cuts as "catastrophic" because "history has proven that the stronger the U.S. military is, the more peaceful the world becomes." According to Politico, in a recent speech at the University of Louisville, "Rubio made the case for American military might around the world."
Wait a sec, won't American military might mean a government that's in more places at more times? Isn't this precisely the terrifying prospect we must arm ourselves against? [...] It's almost like George Washington grasping his musket as a defense of liberty -- while also seeking extra funding for the British redcoats.
Also, in case you missed it, this Bloomberg account of Newtown parents begging for common-sense gun control by Annie Linskey is a must-read.
Finally, Jonathan Capehart at The Washington Post puts it all in perspective:
Imagine how much could get done if Obama’s consistent calls for help from the American people on gun violence were backed up by a consistent flood of calls to congressional district and Capitol Hill offices. The president has done as much as he can possibly do. With the Senate set to consider anti-gun-violence bills next week, where’s his backup?