Amnesia runs deep in the Democratic Party. Especially when it comes to compromise with Republicans. In 2009, Democrats watered down the Affordable Care Act to secure bi-partisan support. Yet not one GOP senator voted for the final bill. In 2015, they accepted Mitch McConnell’s justification for blocking consideration of Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court and took him at his word he would feel the same way if the president were from his own party. Can you say, “Justice Amy Coney Barrett?”
Which is why I do not share the enthusiasm of those who believe the compromise on gun legislation reached by the Murphy/Cronyn working group represents “progress.” I’ve not heard one Republican say, “This is a good start.” If not, what is it? Look at the trade-offs to secure 10 GOP votes. It looks more like “the end.”
Consider this one example. In lieu of raising the age from 18 to 21 for purchase of a semi-automatic assault weapon, the drafters agreed to “enhanced background checks” for purchasers under 21. This morning Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy who put the working group together explained how this provision might have stopped the shooter in Uvalde. When he walked into a gun store to purchase the two AR-15s, the dealer would have been required to contact local police to see if the shooter had ever had a run-in with law enforcement.
Senator, I know you mean well. You have been the leading advocate of gun safety laws since Sandy Hook. But this provision, WITHOUT background checks at gun shows and on-line sales, ensures weapons of war will continue to fall into the hands of young men who will use them on victims in such a brutal way the corpses are beyond recognition. What good is an ENHANCED background check if there are still pathways to acquire these weapons where the seller is not required to follow the same procedures as the owner of a licensed gun store.
You may not understand what is going on here, but I can assure you Mitch McConnell does. The proposed legislation has more loopholes than the tax code. Which means there WILL be another Sandy Hook, Parkland or Uvalde. And McConnell will come out of his shell and declare, “We restricted gun sales and that did not stop these travesties. That proves it was NEVER about access to guns. So let’s stop pretending it does. We have enough laws on the books. Let’s enforce those before we consider new ones.” [After which, McConnell holds a fund-raising conference call with the NRA and gun manufacturers and reminds them how he predicted passing the 2022 bill would shut down any possibility of REAL gun legislation.”]
This morning Joe Scarborough quoted Abraham Lincoln to justify this incremental approach to sensible gun legislation. “I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards.” Joe, if memory serves me correctly, Abraham Lincoln was the victim of gun violence. So was Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “The arc of history is long but it always bends toward justice.”
Sadly, these and other “slow walkers” took their last steps way before their time. And in the cases of Lincoln and King, we still have not realized their respective visions of a reunited America or racial equality. Instead, we should be listening to Albert Einstein. “To do the same thing over and over and expect a different result is the definition of insanity.” Approaching gun safety the same way America dealt with reconstruction and civil rights suggests, 100 years from now, we will be engaged in the same discussion we have following every mass shooting.
No, we will not have taken a step backwards. Instead, we will have been stopped dead in our tracks.
For what it’s worth.