Really obvious gun control legislation

Anybody honest about gun policy will admit that the assault weapons ban is mostly (though not all) for show.  It would make a tiny dent at most in gun deaths.  You really want to cut down on gun deaths, you need to cut down on the extraordinary amount of gun trafficking, both legal (i.e., private sale loophole for background checks) and illegal– straw buyers.  The fact that the NRA and assorted gun nuts opposes even these blindingly obvious steps as “the first step towards government confiscation of all firearms!” is what is so frustrating about all this.  Greg Sargent has a nice post on Democratic plans to have a straight up or down vote on simply cracking down on straw buyers:

But beyond that, there’s still another major provision of Obama’s gun package that also has a shot — and it will be introduced in Congress this week with bipartisan support.

I spoke this afternoon with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who will introduce a measure tomorrow or Wednesday, with GOP Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, that would impose much more serious penalties on so-called “straw purchasers” who currently get little more than a legal slap on the wrist for buying and reselling guns to those who fail background checks. Gillibrand believes this will be a very difficult proposal for Republicans to oppose, since it is designed only to target gun sales that are explicitly all about putting guns into the hands of those who presumably shouldn’t have them, having failed background checks.

“This piece is bipartisan already,” Gillibrand told me. “I think it has a great chance of success, because it doesn’t effect law abiding gun owners at all.”

Crucially, Gillibrand said she will be calling for a straight up or down vote juston this proposal. Just as a vote only on the universal background check piece would do, this will force Republicans — and red state Dems who are reportedly skittish about gun reform — to take a position directly on something that is only about keeping guns out of the hands of those who don’t have them. “Eighty five percent of weapons used in crimes in my state come from out of state and 90 percent of them are illegal,” Gillibrand said.

Pressed on whether the House GOP would really allow a vote on this provision, given GOP hostility to gun regulations, Gillibrand insisted it would, given that it should be a no brainer: “It’s a bill that can be significantly bipartisan.” She even said Kirk has been reaching out to some House Republicans to gauge support.

Safe to say if Republicans cannot bring themselves to defy the NRA and vote for this, there’s really no hope of any sensible gun policy whatsoever.  And to the gun nuts who would oppose such obviously sensible legislation– what the hell is wrong with you?!

I haven’t written about the new assault weapons ban proposal because I’m a slacker, but I think it will ultimately prove to be politically useful because it will allow various people to say they opposed new gun control by opposing it and allow Democrats to compromise by giving up on it while, hopefully, allowing more important legislation to go through.  From what I’ve read, the new ban is actually much smarter policy than the old one and would very likely actually save some lives.  Alas, far too many Americans love their AR-15’s more than they love other people’s children.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Really obvious gun control legislation

  1. Mike from Canada says:

    If you want to be attacked online, simply suggest that more guns equates to more gun deaths. Every firearms ‘enthusiast’ I suggested this to denied it.

    I compared it to more cars on the road. More cars equals more car related deaths. Or more skiers on the slopes results in more skiing related deaths. Really, its simple statistics. Or math. I explained it as simply having more firearms available when people get into stupid arguments and one shoots the other. Or stupid accidents like those shown in the video you linked to. Not only was it generally denied that more guns equates to more firearm related deaths, I was asked to show proof that people use firearms and shoot each other when angry.

    What can you say to someone who won’t even acknowledge reality?
    It’s as if some of them turn off their brain when talking about firearms.

    As John Stewart pointed out on The Daily Show, the level of hypocriticism is extreme. They say there are plenty of laws and they just need to enforce the ones there are, but Republicans have passed laws that go out of their way to ensure that firearm laws can’t be enforced. Laws written by the NRA. It’s a clear case of a lobby group lobbying for an industry creating laws that are not in the interest of the majority of Americans. It’s shameful.

    I pointed this out in a forum. I was told I should be ashamed of myself for name calling Republicans.

    I’ve given up trying to point out some of the absurdity of some positions they hold.

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