Democrats are desperate to push gun control forward while they have the majority in the House. However, anyone with half a brain knows that, despite their best efforts, Democrats don’t have a hope in hell of getting anything passed beyond there, especially with the deep partisan divide that has taken hold of our nation.
To get anything done, Democrats are going to have to woo some Republicans over to their side, and that’s precisely what they’re trying to do.
Democratic supporters who helped sweep in a new class of lawmakers promising a gun law overhaul might have to wait longer than they’d like for that agenda to materialize in the form of bills.
While Democrats wrestled back the majority in the House, Republicans still control the Senate, and Donald Trump is still in the Oval Office.
That doesn’t mean Democrats won’t try to win over some Republicans who have expressed interest in tackling a few gun law issues, such as outlawing bump stocks and closing a loophole that allows private arms vendors to sell guns without federal regulation.
I am going to break in here to point out a flaw.
“Private arms vendors” sound like dealers who are skipping out on doing background checks. That’s not what’s happening, though. What’s happening is that someone decides they have a gun they want to get rid of for whatever reason, so they sell it to another individual. It’s like selling a used car or an old bed. It isn’t some back-alley gun deal made legal.
Anyway, let’s continue.
So far, House Democrats have indicated they will prioritize measures that have at least some bipartisan support, bills they think could eventually garner 60 votes in the Senate and Trump’s signature.
That nitty-gritty coalition-building process could slow the number of bills that make it to the House floor. But if advocates want results and not a pileup of legislation that is dead-on-arrival in the Senate, that’s the most realistic approach, Democrats said.
“You start with those that you’re most likely to get support from across the aisle, and you build up to things that people consider more extreme, like bans,” Democratic Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada said.
So how are they doing it?
That’s easy. There have always been some Republicans willing to sell out gun owners.
Titus is working with Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick to reintroduce a bill that would authorize the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to regulate the movement and sale of bump stocks that allow semiautomatic weapons to fire at the rate of a machine gun.
The Trump administration moved in December to unilaterally ban bump stocks by reclassifying them as automatic weapons, but the Gun Owners of America sued the administration over the policy.
Other gun safety bills House Democrats will propose in their nascent majority will be similarly narrow and issue-specific instead of sweeping packages that failed in 2009 and 2010 when they controlled the House, had 60 votes in the Senate and held the White House.
Take HR 8, for instance, introduced by five Democrats and five Republicans earlier this month that would require gun sellers, including private vendors, to conduct background checks on buyers.
“That’s the only thing in the bill,” said Robin Lloyd, a former Democratic House aide who now heads the government affairs program at former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ namesake gun control advocacy group.
Now, it’s a smart move for Democrats to do it this way. Sweeping measures tend to have something in them to piss everyone off. It makes them easy to defeat. Even some Democrats will vote against those kinds of measures simply because there’s something in them that their constituents may not like.
But doing these individual measures turns up the heat on all the Democrats and even some Republicans in less than secure seats. It forces them to go on the record on this particular issue. I don’t like it, but it’s smart from a strategic sense.
The saving grace is that the Democrats don’t have the muscle in the Senate to even bring this for a vote. The question is will enough Republican senators oppose measures like this?
Don’t think for one minute that Democrats failing to gain control of the Senate means we’re safe. It means we’re not totally screwed, but there will still be a fight. It means it’s up to us to remind our senators how we feel about gun control. They need emails and phone calls and everything else we can send to make it very clear that this is a line they don’t want to cross.
The truth is that every little bit that gets nibbled away by bills like this is used to justify the next nibble. They need to be stopped and stopped cold.
Get ready to fight.