I confess to some surprise. I wrote in a recent post that nothing would be done in response to the gun massacres in two U.S. cities. Well, it appears something may be done. Not much, mind you, but as Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer put it, “It nevertheless represents the most significant reform to gun safety laws that we have seen in decades.” Even Republican Senator Mitch McConnell referred to “clearly making progress.”
A Senate committee of 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans has struck a deal on a limited set of gun safety measures that has a chance of passing both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The presence of the 10 Republicans should allow for the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster in the evenly divided Senate. The House passed a sweeping package of reforms but it will have little chance in the other body.
Gun law reform in individual states is a mixed bag. While some blue states are upgrading their laws in light of the massacres, some red states are loosening their laws even further.
The Senate deal has a way to go before it’s law. It has to be turned into legislation and that alone will prove challenging—as always, the devil will be in the details. The National Rifle Association will no doubt campaign against it, and they have an impressive record of success.
The agreement enhances background checks on those under 21 (both the Buffalo and Uvalde shooters were teenagers). Federal incentives will be provided for states to enact laws allowing for the seizure of guns from those deemed a threat to themselves or others, and persons accused of domestic violence, either against spouses or dating partners, will find it harder to obtain guns. Funds will be provided to strengthen safety and mental health services in schools.
The deal is far short of what the Democrats would like to see, and it has been likened by some to applying a Band-aid to stem a hemorrhage, but it’s better than no bandage at all. And it’s at least some movement in the right direction. That hasn’t been seen in the U.S. Congress for a long time. Just seeing Democrats and Republicans agreeing on a gun law is refreshing (and surprising) progress.
I sincerely hope I’m proven wrong in saying nothing would be done.