A Pre-Autopsy of the Senate Gun Package: Not half a loaf; not half a slice; a few crumbs at best. So pass it already.

COMMENT: The restrained Associated Press headline on its story reads “Senate negotiators announce a deal on guns, breaking logjam.”

The Raleigh NC News & Observer called it (more accurately, I think) an OUTLINE of [a] gun violence agreement.” The story’s lead paragraph dubbed it a FRAMEWORK.” [Emphasis added.]
The AP article, by Alan Fram, ASSOCIATED PRESS, Updated June 12, 2022, also acknowledged that:

> “The proposal falls far short of tougher steps long sought by President Joe Biden . . . .” And it was at best a
> “limited breakthrough offering modest gun curbs . . . .” Further,
> Leaders HOPE to push any agreement into law rapidly — they HOPE this month — before the political momentum fades that has been stirred by the recent mass shootings . . . .” [Emphasis added.] But

> “Participants cautioned that FINAL DETAILS and LEGISLATIVE LANGUAGE REMAIN TO BE COMPLETED, meaning FRESH DISPUTES AND DELAYS might emerge.” [Emphasis added.]

Senate bargainers announced a bipartisan framework Sunday responding to last month’s mass shootings, a noteworthy though limited breakthrough offering modest gun curbs and bolstered efforts to improve school safety and mental health programs.

The proposal falls far short of tougher steps long sought by President Joe Biden and many Democrats. Even so, the accord was embraced by Biden and enactment would signal a significant turnabout after years of gun massacres that have yielded little but stalemate in Congress.

Leaders hope to push any agreement into law rapidly — they hope this month — before the political momentum fades that has been stirred by the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. Participants cautioned that final details and legislative language remain to be completed, meaning fresh disputes and delays might emerge.

Participants cautioned that final details and legislative language remain to be completed, meaning fresh disputes and delays might emerge.

North Carolina’s Republican senators, Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, were among 20 senators, including 10 Republicans, who released a statement calling for passage. That is potentially crucial because the biggest obstacle to enacting the measure is probably in the 50-50 Senate, where at least 10 GOP votes will be needed to attain the usual 60-vote threshold for approval.

“Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities,” the lawmakers said.

The group, led by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., and North Carolina’s Tillis produced the agreement after two weeks of closed-door talks.

WHAT THE AGREEMENT WOULD DO ON GUNS
COMMENT: A MORE ACCURATE SUBHEADING: WHAT the “framework” MIGHT Do; Further comments follow the AP article’s summary of the “outlined” potential provisions:

AP: – The compromise would make the juvenile records of gun buyers under age 21 available when they undergo background checks. The suspects who killed 10 Black people at a grocery store in Buffalo and 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde were both 18, and many perpetrators of recent years’ mass shootings have been young.

— The agreement would offer money to states to enact and put in place “red flag” laws that make it easier to temporarily take guns from people considered potentially violent, plus funds to bolster school safety and mental health programs.

— Some people who informally sell guns for profit would be required to obtain federal dealers’ licenses, which means they would have to conduct background checks of buyers.

“Right now we have people who are practically dealers, but they’re kind of viewed as hobbyists or various other categories,” Tillis told McClatchy last week as he disclosed details of the package he was negotiating with Murphy, Sinema and Cornyn.

— Convicted domestic abusers who do not live with a former partner, such as estranged ex-boyfriends, would be barred from buying firearms, and it would be a crime for a person to legally purchase a weapon for someone who would not qualify for ownership.

Congressional aides said billions of dollars would be spent expanding the number of community mental health centers and suicide prevention programs.

COMMENT: More plainly, the “outline” MIGHT do all the above. BUT it might just as likely do NONE of it. The article adds that

AP – “Congressional aides said . . . some spending decisions are UNRESOLVED, as are FINAL WORDING on JUVENILE RECORDS and OTHER GUN PROVISIONS that MIGHT PROVE CONTENTIOUS. And the licensing option would apply only to “SOME PEOPLE”. [Emphasis added.]

COMMENT: The actual provisions described have not been put into agreed legislation. That is, the “framework” is crumbs from a loaf that is not even half- baked yet.

AP-Yet underscoring election-year pressures from Buffalo and Uvalde, the parties’ shared desire to demonstrate a response to those shootings suggested momentum toward enactment was strong.

AP- REACTION TO THE PLAN “I want to thank Senator Chris Murphy and the members of his bipartisan group — especially Senators Cornyn, Sinema, and Tillis — for their tireless work to produce this proposal,” Biden said in a statement. “Obviously it does not do everything that I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction, and would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades.”

Given the bipartisan support, “there are no excuses for delay, and no reason why it should not quickly move through the Senate and the House,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the accord “a good first step to ending the persistent inaction to the gun violence epidemic” and said he would bring the completed measure to a vote as soon as possible.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has supported the talks, WAS MORE RESTRAINED. He praised the bargainers’ work and said he is hoping for a deal that makes “significant headway on key issues like mental health and school safety, respects the Second Amendment, earns broad support in the Senate, and makes a difference for our country.” [Emphasis added.]

COMMENT: “Restrained”? McConnell’s statement was a non-commitment and non-endorsement, even of the “framework/outline”.

AP-The agreement was quickly endorsed by groups that support gun restrictions including Brady, Everytown for Gun Safety and March for Our Lives, which organized rallies held around the country on Saturday.

The National Rifle Association said in a statement that it opposes gun control and infringing on people’s “fundamental right to protect themselves and their loved ones,” but supports strengthening school security, mental health and law enforcement.

The group has long exerted its sway with millions of firearms-owning voters to derail gun control drives in Congress.

MORE SWEEPING STEPS BLOCKED

The agreement represents a lowest common denominator compromise on gun violence, not a complete sea change in Congress. Lawmakers have demonstrated a newfound desire to move ahead after saying their constituents have shown a heightened desire for congressional action since Buffalo and Uvalde, but Republicans still oppose more sweeping steps that Democrats want and Sunday’s agreement omits.

These include banning assault-style firearms such as the AR-15 style rifles used in Buffalo and Uvalde, or raising the legal age for buying them. AR-15s are popular and powerful semi-automatic weapons that can fire high-capacity magazines and have been used in many of the nation’s highest-profile slaughters in recent years. One of them, the killing of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, occurred six years ago Sunday.

Democrats have also wanted to ban high capacity magazines and to expand required background checks to far more gun purchases.

NONE OF THESE PROPOSALS HAS A CHANCE IN CONGRESS. [Direct quote. Emphasis added.]

Highlighting that, the Democratic-controlled House approved sweeping bills this past week barring sales of semiautomatic weapons to people under age 21 and large-capacity magazines, and giving federal courts the power to rule when local authorities want to remove guns from people considered dangerous.

Currently, only 19 states and the District of Columbia have red-flag laws. Those measures will go nowhere in the Senate, where Republicans can block them.

The last major firearms restrictions enacted by lawmakers was the 1994 assault weapons ban, which Congress let expire 10 years later.

For years, congressional Republicans representing rural, pro-gun voters have blocked robust restrictions on firearms purchases, citing the Constitution’s Second Amendment.

Democrats, whose voters overwhelmingly favor gun restrictions, have been reluctant to approve incremental steps that they have thought would let GOP lawmakers argue they have tried stemming the tide of violence without meaningfully addressing the problem.

LAST COMMENT: Congress has about a week to deal with this “framework/outline” before its annual series of breaks & recesses shuts it down for most of the rest of the summer. Will they get any of this done? I don’t know the future.

I’m also a Quaker, and we  aren’t supposed to gamble. But if I was going to break that rule, I wouldn’t bet the ranch on any of that “outline/framework/unbaked loaf.”

For that matter, I wouldn’t even bet the ranch dressing.

Go ahead, Congress, prove me wrong.

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