Senators Chris Murphy, Joe Manchin, and Pat Toomey are desperately hoping to keep the dreams of gun control alive in Congress and are announcing they’re ready to work with President Trump on universal background checks in an op/ed at USA Today. In fact, not only are the anti-gun politicians pushing for a renewed effort on gun control, the senators claim that they “nearly had a deal” with Trump before the Democrats’ push for impeachment derailed negotiations, and now they want him to return to the table for more negotiations.
For the time being, negotiations with the White House on background checks have come to a halt. But we think it’s important to note how far this debate moved over the summer and fall, and how close we were to a bipartisan agreement.
We are ready at a moment’s notice to restart these deliberations, because we remain confident that with the president’s support, a measure to expand background checks to include all commercial gun sales could become law. This measure, once implemented, would undoubtedly make our nation safer and show Americans that even during this heated political moment, Republicans and Democrats can still come together to pass landmark legislation that will save lives.
The three stooges for gun control are offering a slight tweak to the universal background check bill passed by the House earlier this year, by calling for background checks on “all commercial sales,” even though the law already states that every firearm sold by a licensed firearms dealer must go through a background check. What these senators really want is a law requiring background checks on private sales of firearms, which amounts to a universal background check law, no matter how much they might protest otherwise.
Even as the senators claim that a federal background check bill will make people safer, they ignore the evidence showing that requiring background checks on all transfers of firearms doesn’t even lead to an increase in background checks, but violent crime can and has increased after universal background checks become the law of the land. The senators can’t or won’t acknowledge the failures of universal background check laws. Instead they offer empty promises of safety by requiring that every transfer of a firearm go through a background check, even though there’s no way to even attempt to enforce the law without a national gun registry as well.
Besides the inadequacies of the proposal by these three senators, there’s absolutely no reason for Trump to work with them to push a gun control bill he’s repeatedly said he would veto. Politically speaking, it would do nothing to help him with his base, and in fact would cause a large number of gun owners to back away from their previous support just as we head into an election year.
If universal background checks don’t reduce violent crime or lead to more background checks, and but would damage the president’s support among gun owners, there’s not much of an argument in favor of what Manchin, Toomey, and Murphy are calling for, short of being able to say “We did something.” Maybe that’s enough for politicians fixated on focus groups and public polling on things like background checks, but for those who actually care about smart, effective, and constitutionally sound policies to address violent crime and the root causes, the adminstration’s new Project Guardian initiative will do far more to improve public safety than the worthless background check bill that Manchin and his cohorts are calling for.