Senate Democrats, with the support of 14 Republicans, voted Tuesday to take a large step towards gun control legislation that is opposed by the National Rifle Association.
Proponents dub it “gun safety” legislation, and it follows horrific mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. Whether the bill’s passage and implementation creates a significantly safer country or simply placates foes of the 2nd Amendment is another story.
It is said in the legal profession that “hard cases make bad law.” The same principle may be applied to tragedies and periods of grief. Consider the laws that could have been enacted in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he intends to see the bill passed this week before senators head out for the two-week July 4 break.
The gun control deal expands background checks for purchasers ages 18-20 and adds abusive dating relationships to prohibited buyers lists. This closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole.”
A misdemeanor domestic violence conviction for unmarried persons will mean a chance to restore 2nd Amendment rights in five years — if the person has a clean record.
Further, financial incentives are built in to encourage states to adopt “red flag” laws intended to disarm those believed to be a danger to themselves or others. Even states that do not adopt these provisions may use the funds to support crisis prevention programs.
The NRA said the legislation “falls short at every level.” Government officials get too much discretion and too many provisions are “undefined and overbroad” in ways that allow violations of constitutional freedoms.
The powerful advocacy group further said it will support laws that enhance school security and mental health services along with reducing violent crime.
A joint statement from Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) lauded the bipartisan measure. The four said the legislation will “save lives and will not infringe” upon law-abiding citizen’s 2nd Amendment freedoms.
Maybe. The devil is in the details, and senators had only an hour to study the proposal before it was put to a vote. The 80-page bill passed 64-34, meaning it was certainly not fully read but also that, unless votes change, it is filibuster-proof.