Cruz has counter proposal on guns, but there are problems

AP Photo/John Raoux

Sen. Ted Cruz is one of the lawmakers out there who is generally pretty good on guns. The Texas Republican has made his stance pretty clear and he was not one of those who sided with his fellow Texan, Sen. John Cornyn on the Senate gun deal.

In fact, Cruz has his own proposal to address guns and it doesn’t target law-abiding citizens.

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz condemned the bipartisan gun control legislation soon coming to a vote, calling on the U.S. Senate to instead consider legislation he crafted with Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso that he said targets criminals instead of every gun owner.

Instead, Cruz called on senators to support the “Safe Kids Safe Schools Safe Communities Act” – which he said is focused on the criminal element rather than the weapon used.

“It’s focused on funding prosecutors that if you commit a violent crime with a gun, you’re going to be prosecuted by the Department of Justice and sent to federal prison. If you try to illegally buy a gun, if you’re a felon or fugitive, if you try to legally buy a gun, you’re going to be prosecuted and sent to federal prison,” he said.

“This bill provides $36 billion for funding over ten years for police officers, armed police officers in schools. It doubles the number of police officers in schools. It provides $10 billion in funding for mental health counselors. So if you have a kid that has serious mental health issues, you stop him early before he commits the crime.

Now, on one hand, this is far more preferable to the bill in the Senate right now and there are aspects of this that really should be non-controversial.

However, there are still issues with this.

First, let’s not that this bill isn’t going to go anywhere. It’s better than the Senate deal, but our definition of “better” is part of why it’s not going to get any help from the Democrats.

As for the issues, there are really two that I see.

The first is that this bill is that it still seems to be premised on the idea that it’s somehow better for your loved one to be stabbed to death than shot. It focuses on guns as if they’re a particular scourge, but the issue is and has always been violent people. Those prone to violence will still be violent no matter what kind of weapon they can access.

Additionally, this is a bill that punishes people after the fact. While I personally don’t see that as a bad thing, we’ve got a political environment looking at preventing so-called gun homicides.

Yes, this bill may have some prevention aspects to it, but it does so in part by deterrence. Right now, many people are less than impressed by deterrence, especially when you realize that if deterrence was going to work, the potential punishment for murder would do the trick.

It doesn’t.

The bill also seeks to remove criminals from society, and there is where it’s more likely to make some kind of impact. Yet it won’t help the one place most people are focused on right now. Nothing in this bill will really impact mass shootings.

Mass shooters tend not to have long rap sheets, for example. They can generally buy their guns lawfully because of that, so there’s nothing here for them except a potentially even longer prison sentence. How does that work, though, when your killer isn’t planning on surviving the encounter?

Now, all that said, I’d much rather see Cruz’s bill pass than what we’re likely to have crammed down our throats, mostly because it won’t impact law-abiding citizens and will likely put criminals behind bars for even longer, thus reducing the criminal population on the streets.

But I can’t pretend this bill is without its issues.