Dems Hope To Pare Down Gun Control Bills To Entice GOP

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Democrats want a lot of gun control. They haven’t made it a secret by any stretch of the imagination. We know they want it and we’ve had to trust the GOP half of the Senate to hold the line for us.

So far, they’ve done precisely that, thankfully. Then again, it’s not hard to imagine them doing so in such a partisan environment.

For Democrats, though, they’re sure they can get something through the Senate, even if they have to pare it down from what they originally wanted.

Senate Democrats are struggling for the total unity they need on major infrastructure and elections bills. Their gun control point man is determined to avoid that kind of quicksand.

Instead, Democrats are preparing to vote on a scaled-down guns bill — most likely a curtailed plan to boost background checks for firearm buyers. The goal is to unite the party and pick up a limited number of Republican votes, even as their effort appears headed towards the same doomed fate as previous proposals to curb gun violence. Despite the all-but-certain GOP filibuster facing Democrats on guns, they’re well aware that a unified 50-vote Senate majority is the only way to put unmitigated political pressure on their opponents.

It’s a stark contrast with Democrats’ approach to their sweeping elections package, which lacks total support from their Senate caucus and is unlikely to win any Republican votes when it comes to the floor this week. But it’s just a matter of math in the evenly divided Senate, according to Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who had spearheaded the latest round of gun control negotiations.

“I’m not interested in bringing a proposal to the Senate floor that can’t even get 50. And the quickest way to get 50 is to keep all the Democrats together,” said Murphy.

Rather than put up House-passed bills that established universal background checks and closed other loopholes, Democrats are leaning toward scheduling a vote next month on legislation increasing the number of online and gun show transactions covered by federal background checks. Unlike the House-passed gun bills, Senate Democrats are betting such legislation could unite them and even tempt Republicans to join them.

Murphy has long argued that he felt the original bills could get to 60 votes, but since that’s not happening, he’s trying to change his tune.

Among the scaled-down efforts is a potential proposal that will expand background checks but fall well short of anything universal. In particular, Murphy is talking to Sens. Lindsay Graham and Pat Toomey, hoping to lure them to the dark side.

Look, I’m going to be clear here. Anyone who backs even these new proposals needs to lose their seat.

This isn’t a compromise. Gun-control backers don’t know how to compromise. All they know how to do is take a little less than they did originally. Gun rights in this country would still be taking a step backward and that’s something gun rights advocates have had enough of over the years.

That’s also what people like Chris Murphy don’t get. We’ve given and given over the last century and what have we gotten in return? Vilified for not giving more.

I’m sorry, but the only way to scale down those bills so we would support them is to make them non-gun control bills entirely. Maybe rewrite the bill so you name a post office after Col. Jeff Cooper or John Moses Browning. We could get behind that, probably.

Otherwise, Murphy’s welcome to keep banging his head against the wall.

Still, don’t rest on your laurels. Call your senators and make damn sure they know you oppose any additional gun control and you expect them to hold the line via the filibuster if that’s what it takes.

Dec 04, 2021 11:30 AM ET