Op-ed hopes bipartisan bill opens door for more gun control

AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe

Part of why I opposed the bipartisan gun control bill, despite knowing it doesn’t really do much, is because it suggests that moving the needle toward more regulation is possible. It lets anti-gun zealots believe that they have an opportunity to pass more laws in the near future.

It’s not the whole reason, mind you, but a part of it.

And, sure enough, we have an op-ed hoping exactly that.

Fifteen Republicans in the Senate and 14 in the House joined with congressional Democrats this week to break more than 25 years of inaction on gun safety. That these Republicans, many of whom had ratings of A or A-plus from the National Rifle Association, defied the gun lobby with their support of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act suggests they saw the political peril in doing nothing about the gun violence gripping the country. Indeed, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who voted for the bill, admitted as much when he said he hoped GOP support for the measure “will be viewed favorably by voters” as the party seeks to regain the majority next year.

The public sentiment for gun safety that has steadily built with each mass shooting, finally forcing Republicans to drop their ironclad opposition, offers hope that the legislation, signed into law by President Biden on Saturday, will be the first and not last step in bringing some rationality to the nation’s gun laws.

First, that bill was not “rationality” regarding gun laws in this country. For it to be so, it would have to have been something that might actually have worked to keep people safe.

Gun control doesn’t.

Yet let’s note the hopeful tone, the idea that this is just a stepping stone toward more regulation. Raise your hand if you knew this was coming.

This was never going to be the endpoint for them. Mass shootings could stop right this second, even before the law has had a chance to do anything, and they’d still keep pushing for gun control. For them, this is the beginning.

What they don’t get is that they got literally all they were going to get.

I mean, do you think Sen. Chris Muphy sat down with Sen. John Cornyn and just asked for the stuff that was in that bill? Of course not. They started with wanting a whole lot more and negotiated for what they could get. Even that has created a great deal of heat for those Republicans who backed the bill.

You can’t really think they’re going to give up more, now, can you?

That’s a silly question because clearly, the answer is “yes.”

That’s where they’re likely wrong. While the constituency may have been willing to accept this bill, the big wants for the gun control side will likely remain well out of their grasp.

For that, I’m thankful.

Yet I also can’t blame them for looking at it this way. Why wouldn’t they? After all, the only side that’s ever given up ground on the gun control debate has been the Republican side. Democrats don’t move backward. They don’t compromise except to take a little less than they really wanted. So of course they’d figure they’ll get more.

And while I doubt they’ll get it now, I can’t say definitively that they’ll never get it.