One is a (mild) surprise, the other is not. The surprise is Rep. Chris Jacobs, who’s facing a contested primary in August in his New York district.
Congressman Chris Jacobs goes on the record saying he would support a series of gun control measures, including banning access to semiautomatic rifles like AR-15s, restricting magazine capacity to 10 round, & raising minimum age to 21 for firearm purchase. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/9uMFYsb1jZ
— Ashley Rowe (@AshleyroweWKBW) May 27, 2022
At the same press conference, Jacobs called for raising the minimum age for buying certain weapons to 21, banning high-capacity magazines, and prohibiting the sale of body armor to civilians. What makes that surprising is that Jacobs was endorsed by the NRA in 2020. And since there’s no prospect of an assault weapons ban actually passing the Senate, he’s staking out a position here needlessly, with no obvious political upside for him in his very red district.
The reason it’s only a mild surprise is that his newly redrawn district encompasses parts of Buffalo, site of the last mass shooting before Uvalde. “I hope I’ve been compassionate when I read and heard about previous incidents like this that have happened over the years, but I guess there’s just something markedly different when it happens in your city, to people you know,” he told the Buffalo News. “This has been a profoundly impactful event for me.”
Either he’s gambling that gun control will be less of a political liability for him in a city that’s reeling from a slaughter or his grief has led him not to care about the electoral consequences of doing something which he thinks might help reduce school shootings.
The other House Republican who’s ready for an assault weapons ban is less of a surprise. That’s Adam Kinzinger, who’s effectively a center-right independent these days and is retiring from Congress at the end of the year. Although what Kinzinger has in mind sounds less like an outright ban than simply raising the bar to possessing an AR-15. He wants training and certification in order to wield the most dangerous weapons, which would weed out a few of the crazies.
Adam Kinzinger: “I have opposed a ban [on AR-15s] fairly recently. I think I’m open to a ban now.” pic.twitter.com/gF54DPW5Z6
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 29, 2022
Why are some Republicans having a rethink on gun control? This sentiment is part of it:
insane how the only notable change since Sandy Hook is that kids are now formally trained to hide, barricade doors, fight, or run for their lives. that was the solution. to literally put the responsibility on them to figure it out and wish them luck.
— Zara Rahim (@ZaraRahim) May 24, 2022
Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde, and many others — America’s “strategy” for reducing school shootings is functionally to do nothing and wait for some submerged organic cultural shift to drain the urge to kill out of disturbed young men. Unsurprisingly, that strategy isn’t working. The other cause for exasperation is the fact that some of the most outspoken gun-rights politicians clearly aren’t serious about addressing the crisis:
This is even worse than militarizing schools themselves. This is, what, roving armed militia?
The sheer creativity of the anything-but-gun-control crowd is simultaneously impressive, weird, and awful. https://t.co/8r8q9WIyjt
— Robert E Kelly (@Robert_E_Kelly) May 29, 2022
Ted Cruz’s proposal to reduce the number of entrances to schools is of a piece with that. These aren’t solutions you’d hit on if you were earnestly trying to solve a plague of mass murder, they’re solutions you’d propose if your top priority is to dogmatically steer the debate away from any new restrictions on gun ownership. I refuse to believe that a guy as brilliant as Cruz, if handed a problem like school shootings in an ideological vacuum, would respond, “Let’s focus on doorways.”
Many schools have thousands of children, teachers and staff who could take hours to funnel in and out of a single entrance every day. Even more use portable buildings or have multiple buildings, with children and staff often moving among them. Not to mention that renovations to older schools, which officials say typically have more exterior entrances, put a heavy burden on local taxpayers…
“Let’s say you had a high school that had 3,000 students, and you’re going to use one entry point to bring those students into that building every day,” Avera said. “That’s going to literally double the amount of time it takes to get folks in that building.”
Schools also have to account for staff and deliveries for things like lunch items and classroom materials, Avera said.
As for Greene’s idea of letting parents patrol the school grounds (don’t most parents work full-time?), that’s a strange position for populists to take after having spent the past two years worrying about kids being traumatized by COVID protocols. If having to wear a mask every day affected their mental health, one would think the permanent presence of de facto armed guards might breed some anxiety as well. The same logical disconnect applies to arming teachers. A few months ago, Florida’s “don’t say gay” law was defended on grounds that the state needed to step in and protect kids from the many “groomers” populating the state’s schools. Now, to prevent the next Uvalde, we should … arm the groomers?
How militarized do we want the education system to be, Kinzinger asked?
Rep. Adam Kinzinger on calls from his party to “harden” schools: “Turning schools into military camps … even if it does work, which it won’t, but even if it does, that’s not the kind of country I want to live in … they’re scared to talk about [the gun issue].” pic.twitter.com/5TfGkpuysn
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 29, 2022
Democrat Chris Murphy is leading the bipartisan talks in the Senate on new gun restrictions and told an interviewer this morning that he’s staying realistic. An assault weapons ban isn’t in the cards, he acknowledged; even if it were, it would be no panacea for school shootings. Columbine happened smack dab in the middle of the 10-year AWB passed during the Clinton years, after all. Murphy is focused on universal background checks, which are popular but also sure to be ineffective, and red-flag laws. Although he might want to pay some attention to how gun purchases are being financed too:
— Matt Ford (@fordm) May 28, 2022
“Buy now, pay later” is a perfect way for someone who’s plotting to go out in a burst of homicidal rage to get hold of guns quickly despite lacking the means to afford them.
A federal red-flag law will be tricky since there are sound administrative reasons to leave that subject to the states, but frustration in Congress that most red states refuse to consider passing such laws may lead some centrist Republicans to consider forcing one on them. I’ll leave you with Dan Crenshaw, who dismissed the idea of a federal RFL in an interview this morning — and then dismissed the idea of Texas passing an RFL of its own. We can’t punish someone before they’ve broken the law, he says. Right, but there are already mechanisms in the United States aimed at preventing someone from breaking the law when they’ve showed they’re a special threat to do so. TROs are granted to women who are menaced by their exes, for instance. If Crenshaw has a better idea to reduce mass shootings, let’s hear him out. But it needs to be more meaningful than “something something money for mental health.”
Dan Crenshaw says on CNN that he doesn't support red flag laws nationally or in Texas because "what you're essentially trying to do with a red flag law is enforce the law before the law is broken" pic.twitter.com/hps12VSE1E
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 29, 2022