We’re beginning to learn some of the ideas contained in the U.S. Senate bill written in answer to the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting. Instead of resolving how to harden soft targets or requiring cops to try the front door to find out if it’s unlocked to neutralize a school murderer, we have a bill, so far written mostly in invisible ink, that goes after legal gun owners.
The bill is being authored by Gang of Four senators who are willing to sell out law-abiding gun owners because there’s no political downside for them. Texas Republican John Cornyn, who’s in GOP leadership, expects his voters to forgive him by the time he’s up for re-election in 2027. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has as her counterpart in the Arizona delegation the husband of Gabby Giffords, who’s the leader of an anti-gun group. Democrat Senator Chris Murphy can’t understand why Americans need or want guns. He’s the senator from Sandy Hook. And Republican Thom Tillis apparently doesn’t care what North Carolinians think about the right to bear arms. He too faces no voters for five more years.
The senators’ marching orders were to “do something” after the debacle in Uvalde.
The Washington Post reported that “the domestic violence so-called ‘boyfriend’ loophole that was at threat of being dropped, have been worked out and are part of the legislation.” It requires “expanded background checks for people aged 18-21,” as well as funding for states to enact so-called “red flag laws.” There’s funding for mental health programs, telehealth, and criminal purchases for “straw purchases,” which are already against the law. Oh, and almost as an afterthought, there’s money for “school safety.” Does the school safety provision require teachers to carry guns or pay for their training? Doubtful, but is unclear at this point.
The bill’s language states that so-called red-flag laws supported by the bill would allow persons targeted to retain the right to due process, an attorney (at their own expense), and the ability to confront witnesses before any guns are removed, as accorded by the Constitution. The issue, of course, is that red-flag laws are civil matters, and therefore targets are not accorded civil rights under criminal law. It’s a nice thought, though.
So far 20 entities, 19 states, and the District of Columbia have red-flag laws. The feds would pay states’ costs in implementing the laws that take guns out of the hands of people who family members, cops, and others determine need to have them taken away.
Senators call for an under 21-year-old waiting period and for juvenile records to eventually be included in the NICS background database.
NEW DETAILS on gun bill w/ @LACaldwellDC…
-bf loophole language includes automatic rights restoral after 5yrs
-under-21 gun buyers will have to wait at least 3 days, perhaps 10
-text to be filed this afternoon; first procedural vote as soon as tonighthttps://t.co/5OtH3goP36
— Mike DeBonis (@mikedebonis) June 21, 2022
Oddly, the Hyde Amendment, which prevents taxpayer-funded abortion, was a sticking point in the bill. Cornyn seems to think that all Second Amendment attacks will be forgiven as long as Americans aren’t forced to pay for abortions. Why not just throw border security and “the wall” in for good measure as long as we’re dealing away gun rights?
Ultimately, the Hyde Amendment and abortion didn’t seem to make the cut in the final bill.
CORNYN tells me there will be text “hopefully shortly.” Bill is hung up over “details.” Asked about getting booed in TX over the weekend: he’s “all for people exercising their first amendment rights” but the reaction doesn’t change how he’s negotiating the gun reform bill. pic.twitter.com/x0y0RDB4C1
— Allison Pecorin (@AllisonMPecorin) June 21, 2022
Cornyn says he doesn’t care what people think of him or his bill.
Senators had through Tuesday to get the superstructure of the bill put on paper to have any hope of recessing in time for the July 4 holiday. Senator Josh Hawley told Fox News that the Gang of Four wants to put this to a vote by the end of the week. Hawley suggested that instead of targeting legal gun owners, senators go after criminals instead.
Hawley: "What we ought to be doing is a crime bill that will focus on criminals. Not law-abiding citizens, criminals." pic.twitter.com/82qwwfxFB5
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) June 21, 2022
As the old legal saw goes, hard cases make bad law.
Senators, in their eagerness to be seen doing something before the midterm elections, seem to have forgotten this. Again.