The idea that Sen. Dianne Feinstein would propose a bill that’s supposed to ban bump stocks but would actually ban anything other than stock triggers isn’t surprising. That some Republicans in the House thought it was such a swell idea that they proposed similar legislation? That’s surprising.
However, following the massacre of 58 people in Las Vegas, perhaps they just weren’t thinking clearly. It’s an emotional time, after all.
Yet that, coupled with word that Republican Sen. John Cornyn was considering working with Democrats on closing any gaps in background checks following the massacre in Texas has Bloomberg News claiming, “GOP Shows Small Shift On Gun Legislation After Texas Massacre.”
A Senate Republican chairman scheduled a rare gun-control hearing next week after a GOP leader from Texas said he’s willing to work with Democrats to close gaps in national background checks for firearm purchasers.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa said Tuesday his panel on Nov. 14 will discuss regulation of firearm accessories, such as the “bump stocks” used by the man who killed 58 people in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, and enforcement of the national criminal background check system for gun purchasers.
Earlier in the day, second-ranking Senate Republican John Cornyn said he’ll work with Democrats to close gaps in the background checks following the discovery that the gunman who killed 26 people in a Texas church on Sunday slipped through the system.
Cornyn told reporters that he’s talked with Democratic Senators Chris Murphy, Jeanne Shaheen and Martin Heinrich “and I think we are interested in trying to find a way to work together to deal with improving the background check system and fixing these holes.”
I get the confusion, and while I can’t speak specifically to what Cornyn is thinking, it’s important to note that the failure that allowed the Texas gunman to arm himself had nothing to do with an insufficient number of laws on the books. The problem is that the Air Force failed to pass relevant information to the NICS.
Without that information, the NICS had no reason to alert gun dealers they were selling to a prohibited person.
If you want to tighten up the system, start with making sure everyone’s submitting the relevant information like they’re supposed to. The laws are in place to have blocked the killer from buying a gun, but because of that failure, it didn’t happen.
That said, there are other chinks in the GOP’s pro-gun armor. The House version of Feinstein’s bump stock ban, for example, is just one. Sen. Jeff Flake’s efforts to pass laws that already exist is another.
Is the Republican Party shifting a bit on guns?
However, I can see why they may feel the need to be seen to shift, if even for a little bit. While it’s bad news for gun rights, shifting Republicans may be trying to look at the bigger political picture. By making a slight shift in light of these horrific events, they may believe they’ll be able to disprove the Democrats’ repeated claims that the GOP is intractable. By doing so, they may be able to pressure the Democrats to concede on some point of policy.
None of that makes gun rights activists particularly happy, nor the rank and file Republican voter for that matter.