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I think we all agree that the people who won the gun control debate, at least this time, were the paranoid wing of the gun rights side.

I consider myself in the rational wing of the gun rights side, and I think I can defend this by pointing out that I've been saying for years that we've needed universal background checks, which is exactly what the unamended bill that was just yanked from the Senate would have established. If nothing else, UBCs would have given the BATF the best of all hammers to use against gun traffickers that supply the majority of firearms to street gangs. This, and not assault weapons, is the major firearms problem in the US, and it should have been addressed. For this reason, UBCs should have been a slam dunk.

Instead, they went down in flames.

What went wrong?

It's easy to blame the NRA - and maybe they should get the blame, since they're the ones who shifted the battle away from the AWB and toward background checks. But, to blame them for the atmosphere of paranoia that ended up dominating the debate is simplistic. One of the benefits of being a Genu-Wine Gun Geek is that I get a front row seat to the conversations that "gun nuts" have among themselves, and I can tell you that if the NRA hadn't led the way against background checks, the NRA board of directors would probably have lost their jobs. Either that, or they would become irrelevant as more strident groups - SAF, GOA, CCRKBA, JPFO, etc. - took over. I can also tell you that those "gun nuts" pay attention when legislators, or even bloggers like yourselves, say they want to take people's guns away. Such talk is, in fact, all they need to justify their paranoia. And why not?

I think leading the discussion with emotionally heated language was a huge tactical error. It kept the gun control side engaged, but it also helped to transform the gun rights side from a demoralized, disorganized mess into a pissed off, determined, organized mob. It turned the discussion from one of crafting sane solutions to real problems, into a cultural battle. While progressives can win most cultural battles, they're still losing this one, and will continue to do so.

I think putting Feinstein front and center was a gamble that backfired. Her AWB was draconian, and if the fight was held there, UBCs would have passed more easily. Simply put, the NRA calculated that AWB would never pass the House no matter what. Rather than making a show of fighting AWB and letting UBC pass, they made a fight out of UBC. Again, I think they did this to save themselves from a revolt on the right.

So, what now?

Now, the gun control side is promising to elect Democrats to replace the Republicans that opposed these bills. They are also promising to primary the Democrats who voted against Manchin-Toomey. The last few elections, however, have demonstrated that primary challenges are risky. Progressives primaried Lieberman, who won as an independent. They primaried Spector and ended up with Toomey. On the other hand, the Tea Party's primary wins gave the GOP such brilliant candidates as Sharon Angle, Christine O'Donnell, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, all of whom went on to symbolize everything that was wrong with the Republican Party. Occasionally primary challenges will produce a superstar, but more often than not, it costs one's party a seat.

I think the smarter strategy would be to re-think the desired outcomes. What are the specific problems? What are the specific, limited, balanced solutions to those problems? Can we craft these solutions in such a way that they don't unfairly restrict the liberties of gun owners? Then, focus on strategy and tactics. Can we sell these solutions without alienating the opposition? (It's going to be a hard sell, granted.)

Let's not kid ourselves - this is going to take years to accomplish. But, I'm reasonably optimistic that a balance can be stricken that preserves the rights of gun owners while sharply reducing the slaughter in our streets. It's going to have to start with both sides calming down, taking a deep breath, and making the decision to treat the other side as honest brokers, for once. And on that, I am a pessimist.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
    My Blog
    My wife's woodblock prints

    by maxomai on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 12:03:32 PM PDT

  •  Heh. Classic. (9+ / 0-)

    Blame the victims.

    "Too emotional."

    What next?

    "You should never go out dressed like that!"

    Calling other DKos members "weenies" is a personal insult and therefore against site rules.

    by Bob Johnson on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 12:09:34 PM PDT

    •  Honestly? (4+ / 0-)

      Bob, if you want to know what part of the problem is, just take a look in the mirror. You've been a source of vitriol and nonsense in this "discussion" from the word go.

      ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
      My Blog
      My wife's woodblock prints

      by maxomai on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 12:21:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I am the one that caused the Senate cowards (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Satya1, Glen The Plumber, tytalus

        ... to vote down background checks.

        Hilarious.

        And you want to preach this?

        I think leading the discussion with emotionally heated language was a huge tactical error. It kept the gun control side engaged, but it also helped to transform the gun rights side from a demoralized, disorganized mess into a pissed off, determined, organized mob. It turned the discussion from one of crafting sane solutions to real problems, into a cultural battle. While progressives can win most cultural battles, they're still losing this one, and will continue to do so.
        Really?

        Calling other DKos members "weenies" is a personal insult and therefore against site rules.

        by Bob Johnson on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 12:25:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm done engaging you. (0+ / 0-)

          I don't think you're the least bit interested in anything but trolling. Throw bombs elsewhere.

          ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
          My Blog
          My wife's woodblock prints

          by maxomai on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 12:26:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Heh, that's what I get for disagreeing with your (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Glen The Plumber, tytalus

            ... post.

            I don't think the Newtown families or Obama or even Feinstein are to blame for background checks going down. The NRA and its lackeys in the Senate were going to push back on any and all legislation, regardless.

            Of course, you consider disagreement with your point of view to be "trolling," but I'd say that's more of a reflection on you than it is on me.

            Calling other DKos members "weenies" is a personal insult and therefore against site rules.

            by Bob Johnson on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 12:29:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  meh. I disagree (9+ / 0-)

    It was doomed from the start. The tactics didn't matter. The filibuster was always enough to kill it in the Senate. The Republicans always had 40 votes.

    I'd still blame Feinstein, but for her insistence on keeping the old filibuster rules.

    •  The thing is... (4+ / 0-)

      ...I think UBCs could have passed the House.

      AWB, never. Magazine ban, never. But UBCs, maybe.

      ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
      My Blog
      My wife's woodblock prints

      by maxomai on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 12:22:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not just her stance on filibuster. Despite... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FrankRose, maxomai

      ...what I've been told was advice given to her, she took her usual approach of listening solely to herself and decided to be first out of the gate on legislation with the AWB.

      Now, whether one agrees with the AWB concept or not, it was obvious except to the wildest, wishful thinkers that the AWB was DOA the moment the grandstanding DiFi opened her mouth back in January with this legislation.

      But the real problem was timing. Harry Reid and other Democrats didn't make the effort to twist her arm and push her to wait before introducing her legislation, thus giving the other items a chance to be introduced. By being first she put the most controversial item up front and tainted the rest of the gun debate by ensuring that her proposal would get disproportionate attention.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 03:25:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree, in part, with this aspect of (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FrankRose, maxomai

        after action analysis.

        But PBO also advanced AWB2 as a fundamental part of this signature 2nd term initiative ... and it was a political disaster on his part as well ... as so many shunned and ridiculed Cassandras have argued here for some time.

        Thirty percent of the Democratic caucus was lost on the AWB2 Amendment ... and activists like Greg Dworkin in Connecticut have been quite candid that their state-level AWB is the just the start.  Gun owners in my state and community pay attention to these facts ... and anyone that believes this massive political failure is simply the result of Republican intransigence, NRA shilling or ideological extremism of gun "fetishists" has no claim to any reality-based community.

        Sure, let's just primary those who opposed this poorly constructed legislative package ... say those who also throw rose petals and uprates to Governor Dean's advocacy of a 50 state electoral strategy. And without a Begich, Baucus, Pryor, Hagen, or Landrieu ... there would no Affordable Care Act, for example.  And who would likely replace them? In Alaska it would likely be Joe Miller, for those who pay some level of attention to these obvious level-two questions once past the knee-jerk masquerading as strategy.

        This was a perfectly foreseeable and totally avoidable political miscalculation of 9.2 magnitude -- that has unnecessarily polarized the liberal, progressive and Democratic community and invigorated the right.

        As a stand-alone bill, and with additional modification efforts to address certain identified problems -- such as remote FFL access in rural states -- it should be able to cross the 60 vote threshold.  Likewise, there is clear bi-partisan support at some level for enhanced mental health screening for inclusion in the NIC database -- but despite Schumer's hysteria in floor debate, I do not want a marginally competent agency to make sweeping determinations about who is or is not legitimately on a proscribed list.  Veteran concerns and HIPPA privacy rights are perfectly valid problems to be corrected, but if more carefully addressed with proper judicial determinations and defined remedies this type of measure should pass as well.

        The gun control advocates ignore that this public health issue of firearm violence involves different geographic needs and concerns, high risk politics in some communities and complicated policy questions that implicate contentious constitutional issues.  But it is much easier simply to demonize and ridicule with whom there is disagreement ... because it has proved so completely effective in this case and with no political cost whatsoever to the Left's larger agenda.

        •  incorrect assertion (0+ / 0-)

          state level laws are just the statrt but while AWB is appropriate for CT, I NEVER said it was the start for a nationwide push. In fact, I have been downplaying the importance of an AWB because iof it's complexity. I think high capacity magazines are more important to focus on, and backgroubnd checks most of all.

          Your analysis of what "we" think is bullshit, frankly, and very diusappointing. We have stressed the public health aspects of this first and foremost, and are happy to work with anyone to see that empasized.

          It's hard to discuss things with people who distort facts.

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 08:33:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  My distinct recollection (0+ / 0-)

            from earlier discussions was that your group was also working on broadening prohibitions to include semi-automatic handguns and that your recent legislation was effectively "just the start."   Is that incorrect?

            The CT legislation has had AWB has an integral main point element together with other components (as I've also repeatedly emphasized as better policy directions) -- with no reference or indication that I can see that it carries any less importance or weight.  A public health focus dictates that your group follow elementary standards of epidemiology -- and no credible or fact-based argument for AWB supports that as any relevant independent variable for effectively all firearm related violence   ... whether you believe that is bullshit or not.  

            And my direct quotation, by the way, referred to "state-level" and not nationwide -- be careful what you assert is a distortion.

            It is hard to discuss things with people who have a particular agenda -- and this thread has been addressing the massive political failure and fall-out arising from a poorly constructed legislative package that incorporated AWB front and center ... care to address that particular observation in context?

            •  my comment seemsd to have been lost (0+ / 0-)

              but it may show up tomorrow.

              The things my group (united physicians of newtown) wants:

              research by CDC and others, unfettered by gun rights folks as happend a decade ago

              mental heal issues, including the role of health professionals addressed

              cease and desist attempts to gag pediatricians form discussing gun safety with parents (see FL and SC doc v Glock laws along with half a dozen other states)

              we want background checks and keeping guns out of the hands of those who should not have them.

              And in additon, AWB would be great but not as important as the above.

              as far as senate goes, it's slanted to small state rural constituencies, where 6-8 states might equal the population of Ca. NYC is 10 times bigger than ND. It's always an uphill battle.

              How do you win? Continue to win the hearts and minds of the public, who already support background checks, and use Bloomberg's money to counter the lies fgorm gun rights supporters about what UBC do. No registry (that's illegal).

              where it's possible to punish at the ballot box, do it. eventually we win. You cannot thwart what 85% of the public wants.

              http://www.nationaljournal.com/...

              Why the Senate Vote May Signal 2016 Problems for the Gun Lobby

              "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

              by Greg Dworkin on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:13:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  As to first principles ... (0+ / 0-)
                as far as senate goes, it's slanted to small state rural constituencies, where 6-8 states might equal the population of Ca. NYC is 10 times bigger than ND. It's always an uphill battle.
                ... this is an enduring systemic characteristic of American Federalism, or a Laurence Lewis always ignorantly castigates simply as "states rights."  It embodies essential tensions, which is precisely what a system of checks and balances is designed to do ... irrespective of any demagogic outrage from time to time on either side of the political spectrum concerning a particular pet issue.

                As we've discussed before, any sensible person would support OBJECTIVE CDC research, removal of impediments to health practitioners, CAREFULLY constructed background check reform -- that resolves proper HIPPA privacy protections, does not indiscriminately broad brush entire classes of people such as Veterans with non-relevant diagnoses or perpetuate discrimination and stigma associated with mental health disorders and impede pursuit of voluntary screening and treatment.

                And you again confirm my initial and primary point:

                And in additon, AWB would be great but not as important as the above. ... How do you win? Continue to win the hearts and minds of the public ...
                It's thus perfectly clear that you, your group and the CT legislature and governor have made AWB an equally central feature of reform because of politics and not data.  And as California, New York and Connecticut adopt these types of ideologically-based reforms as "first steps," the majority of people in my state and communities observe that and are galvanized in opposition -- and not because they are NRA shills or dupes to lies.

                This site has taken the off-ramp into crazy town on this complex and constitutionally contentious issue, with Front Pagers like Hunter braying about "masturbatory fantasies" or Teacherken promoting an utterly absurd "just primary" the cowards diary ... always ignoring that those red/purple state Democratic votes also gave us better essential balance in Supreme Court and even the ACA -- as flawed and imperfect as it is.

                And as to your 85% argument ... I'm reminded of the Romney crowd that similarly misunderstood the data, believing that national polling was representative of state-level opinion.  And if cultural wars are now being promoted again by the Left, then there will be political hell to pay ... in the same manner as Obama, Reid, Feinstein and Schumer's utterly catastrophic political miscalculation and defeat this week with a terribly constructed and promoted legislative package.

                But what do I know? ... call me Cassandra.

                •  it's clear you have an agenda (0+ / 0-)

                  to push.

                  There's no :centrality:  of AWB to what I said.

                  I am afraid I'll have dismiss any further observations on your part as obvious bias.

                  sorry.

                  "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

                  by Greg Dworkin on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 03:01:38 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  This is from YOUR groups' Position Paper ... (0+ / 0-)

                    the United Physician's of Newtown

                    IV. Firearms

                    To require firearm safety including gun locks and safes.

                    To support comprehensive, universal background checks   for the purchase of firearms and ammunition.

                    To prohibit the access of firearms and ammunition to high-risk individuals.

                    To endorse legislation banning civilian access to assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.

                    Could you please identify how the advocacy of an AWB as a point of emphasis is any less significant or central to any other position you have advanced.

                    Credibility is earned with honesty ... not self-serving dismissals of an "agenda" when it is merely pointed out that you are denying or obscuring your own.  And please recall ... the context of this entire thread -- started by Meteor Blades no less and the substance of which you have yet to address -- is that the AWB emphasis was a serious political error.  So I apparently have simply ratified his obvious "bias" and "agenda" as well.  What a bunch of bollocks ... and a real shame for someone who supposedly carries the authority of fact-based reasoning.

                    http://unitedphysiciansofnewtown.org/...

  •  Thank you for telling it so plainly and truthfully (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ancblu
  •  I think both Bob Johnson and ferg (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG

    are both correct.  I don't think rational arguments would have mattered.  

    Also the tone of this piece takes a narrow view of the NRA in just this action, but the NRA has been eroding the capabilities of law enforcement and distorting the issues for decades.  It is the irrationality, CT thinking and fear mongering of the classic NRA approach that has gotten us to this point.  This present state of affairs didn't just suddenly fall from the sky.  That other nutjob organizations may be waiting in the wings is irrelevant if they're just going to use the same tactics as NRA.

    What is going on is an empathy deficit so persistent that "sociopathy" isn't such a stretch anymore for describing it.

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 12:41:09 PM PDT

  •  For things like this tactics don't matter almost (0+ / 0-)

    at all.

  •  Can you please shed some light on this: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Johnson, tytalus
    ...it also helped to transform the gun rights side from a demoralized, disorganized mess into a pissed off, determined, organized mob.
    Can you speak to what exactly was demoralizing the "gun rights side"? It's not as if there has been some kind of constant assault of draconian gun control laws being passed all over the country in the last decade. What exactly about reality had gun enthusiasts "demoralized"? Stand your ground laws? Concealed carry laws? I'm having a hard time seeing just what it was about the recent pre-Newtown atmosphere that would have gun enthusiasts doing anything other than basking in an amazing amount of freedom to own and carry an amazing amount of weapons nearly anywhere and any time.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:29:57 PM PDT

    •  It was Newton itself (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, FrankRose, noway2, ancblu

      The pre-Newton atmosphere was practically "basking in glory." The post-Newton atmosphere was anything but. After Newton came the certainty that a stampeding herd of draconian, punitive regulations would follow. Wayne LaPierre's incredibly awful public statement in response just made matters worse. People responded with the worst panic buying I've ever seen - they wanted to get guns, magazines, and ammunition before the ban came.

      Four months ago, if you had told these people that the worst they had to worry about was universal background checks, most of them would have welcomed that possibility, even if only grudgingly.

      As they got organized, even less-than-universal background checks became a bridge too far. That kind of shift in less than six months is pretty striking, isn't it?

      And again, we can blame the NRA for leading the charge in DC, but we can't give them credit for coming up with that change. The paranoid wing have the loudest voices, and they're the ones that changed the conversation on the right. I think that, if we're going to shut them out, we have to start by not alienating people who might otherwise be more reasonable. We can start by not calling those more reasonable people idiots and murderers.

      ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
      My Blog
      My wife's woodblock prints

      by maxomai on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:52:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OK. So ANY restriction at all is distasteful to (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maxomai, tytalus, Student of Rhetoric

        at least a portion of gun enthusiasts. I get that. I would like to be able to shout "fire!" in a crowded theatre and I also think that slander and libel sound like a lot of fun, but there are restrictions on that kind of speech.

        One of the reasons, I think, why the "more reasonable"--and they are out there--proponents of gun rights tend to get smeared with the same brush as the NRA and other nutters, is because there is a perception that unlike proponents of free speech and free exercise of religion, 2nd second amendment proponents come across as advocating absolutely no restrictions at all. The perception problem, IMO, is not with the proponents of gun control, but with the tone-deafness of pro-gun extremists who shout louder than anyone else in the room.

        What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

        by commonmass on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:58:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Kinda (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          commonmass, ancblu, FrankRose

          I think both sides are dominated by persons who are obnoxiously tone-deaf and mutually alienating. It just so happens that Daily Kos is where the tone-deaf proponents of gun control, who come across as not respecting the Second Amendment one iota, congregate. Hence my posting this essay here. I am hoping that, maybe, I will get through to a couple of people that the approach they've been taking is unproductive.

          My next essay is for arfcom, and that is where I am going to tell them that unless they change their attitude, the fight to preserve gun rights is a long-term losing battle. I doubt that will be well received, either. Whatever. I come not with soothing words, but with a bucket of cold water.

          ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
          My Blog
          My wife's woodblock prints

          by maxomai on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 02:09:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Personally, I think that within the next (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            maxomai

            two decades we are going to see a SCOTUS decision which is going to re-define the Second Amendment, and I wouldn't rule out that including a finding that the right is not universally individual in nature. Just a hunch.

            What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

            by commonmass on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 02:15:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Personally (0+ / 0-)

              I think we're going to see that in the next couple of years, with respect to concealed carry. We've had hints at this from their refusal to hear an appeal of a 2nd Circuit decision upholding "may issue."
               

              ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
              My Blog
              My wife's woodblock prints

              by maxomai on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 04:10:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Are you speaking of internet trolls only? (0+ / 0-)

            From my view of the fight in Maryland, there were the absolutists and the moderates.  The moderates seemed to be running the show at MSI, the state level RKBA organization.  MSI was not brought into early conversations with the O'Malley administration on gun law proposals.  After much arm twisting, he got the law largely passed as he wanted it.  It will be challenged in court and I won't be surprised if large parts are ruled unconstitutional.  What he did not count on what his efforts to divide the two major groups of gun owners (people who like traditional guns vs people who like modern guns) failed badly and managed to unite all gun owners against his bill.  The bill nearly died a few times and its passage will result in a few state reps loosing their jobs.  

            I think that had Democrats handled this diffrently, Universal Background Checks would be the law by now but the price would be fixing some issues in the FOPA 86 and some kick California and New York provisions and it would pass with broad majorities.  

            What I am thinking of is to have the state police, county sheriff or any other LEO agency in addition to existing FFLs issue a certificate to a prospective buyer that would be validated at the time of sale and would effectively perform a background check.  In exchange some of the rules protecting traveling with a gun would be strengthened so things like this don't happen (I'm sorry its Faux News but its late and I am tired and its the best I can find on short notice).  As for other provisions limiting the total costs for satisfying any regulatory requirements to $75 and setting some upper limits such as prohibiting states from regulating possession transfer or use of magazines that contain 20 or fewer cartridges.  

  •  Recced for discussion purposes. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maxomai, ancblu

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 03:28:14 PM PDT

  •  People shouldn't get emotional over the deaths (0+ / 0-)

    of 20 six-year old children??

    I don't agree with your analysis. Money and entrenched power won this round. It's not over. Those who passionately want gun ownership to be regulated are not going to give up. Their emotion, their passion and their zeal will not allow them to give up.

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