When your cause is just, as wanting to hand unchecked power to the Justice Department to infringe people’s civil rights on mere suspicion surely is, there’s no burden too heavy to bear.
Paul Ryan wants a vote on John Cornyn’s version of “no fly, no buy,” which would allow the DOJ to bar someone on a terror watch list from buying a gun if they can prove to a judge that he’s an actual threat, not someone who landed on the list because his name is kinda sorta similar to some known terrorist’s. Not good enough, say Nancy Pelosi and John Lewis. A bill like that would be “ineffective,” by which they mean that some watch-listers would be allowed to go on buying guns because, um, there’s no concrete evidence for why they shouldn’t be allowed. An “effective” bill apparently requires giving Clinton crony Loretta Lynch authority to suspend certain Americans’ rights for whatever reason she, in her wisdom, settles on.
Bear this in mind the next time someone on the left presumes to lecture you about Trump’s threat to civil liberties.
But in a Friday conference call, House Democrats reached “a clear consensus” to oppose the measure, calling it the handiwork of the National Rifle Association, an aide said. Similar legislation, backed by the NRA, was blocked by Democrats in the Senate last week.
Democrats also called for two amendments: one to allow the U.S. attorney general to decide without court approval whether someone on a watch list could buy a gun; and another to expand existing background checks to all commercial gun sales including those at guns shows.
Democratic Representative John Lewis of Georgia, who led last week’s sit-in, asked for a meeting with Ryan to request the amendments, which consist of legislation originally sponsored by Republican Peter King of New York, the aide said.
“If these amendments are not allowed, then members will have further discussions about possible actions to take in response to this refusal to allow a vote on commonsense gun legislation,” said a House Democratic aide.
There are various “tells” here that prove that Democrats’ supposedly passionate opposition to the Cornyn bill is really grandstanding bullsh*t on stilts designed to get their base aroused, not keep guns out of potential terrorists’ hands. One: Obviously their amendment giving the DOJ unchecked power isn’t going to pass the Republican House, nor should it in light of its constitutional defects. Joining the GOP to pass Cornyn’s bill would at least give the DOJ some power to thwart would-be Omar Mateens, subject to judicial oversight. If Democrats would rather pass nothing and let the next Mateen buy guns unchecked than give Republicans a “win” by accepting their plan then clearly the politics of this matters more to them than the threat of another terror attack.
Two: Zeroing in on the no-fly list as fertile ground for new gun-control measures makes lots of sense politically but little sense pragmatically if your goal is reducing gun violence. Throwing up extra obstacles for gun buys by watch-listers seems like common sense given that they’re already under some suspicion, but the number of people on the list is tiny compared to the total number of Americans who buy firearms. Democrats are invested in this not because there’s been an epidemic over the past 15 years of watch-listers shooting up soft targets but because it’s an easily salable “reasonable” idea and because they’re eager to get a foot in the door legally to strip gun rights summarily from Americans who aren’t under suspicion. If we can establish that Loretta Lynch has supreme power to stop gun purchases by people on one sort of list, well, eventually we can expand that power to other lists. Terrorists aren’t the only people who are too dangerous to be allowed with guns, y’know.
Three: Warning in advance that there might be a new sit-in if Ryan doesn’t let Democrats vote on their amendments is basically daring him to deny a vote. If he gives in and allows one, he’ll be pilloried by the right for appeasing the left after their protest stunt. Now that they’ve been rewarded for their bad behavior, his critics will say, we’re sure to see more of it. Meanwhile, the amendments will be voted down, of course, handing Democrats the “Republicans block common-sense gun control again!” fundraising pitches they’re after even though it’s Democrats themselves who are blocking the common-sense Cornyn bill. On the other hand, if Ryan refuses to allow a vote on the amendments, the same fundraising pitches will go out except this time there’ll be a layer of shrieking about racism on top of them. That’s why it’s John Lewis rather than Nancy Pelosi who’s requesting the meeting with Ryan. Refusing to allow a vote after meeting with her is straightforward partisan politics; refusing to allow one after meeting with Lewis, why, that’s tear gas and nightsticks on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. For purposes of Democratic pandering to their base, disagreeing with Lewis about anything is prima facie evidence of racism. It will be in this case too. Essentially they’ve set a procedural trap for Ryan here where any outcome allows them to rattle their tin cups before Democratic donors with the election looming.
One thing to watch out for next week: Pay attention to how many media outlets describe the GOP proposal this way.
A neutral description for the Republican plan is the “Cornyn bill.” A more charitable — and accurate — description would be a “no fly, no buy bill with due-process protections.” The Hill’s description, the “NRA-backed bill,” is coincidentally the same description being used by Democrats like Steny Hoyer. You know why: Anything related to the NRA has talismanic power over the left as a harbinger of evil. The last thing Democrats want people to understand after all of this is over is that the NRA isn’t obstructing a common-sense measure to more closely scrutinize gun purchases by people accused of terrorism. And not only that, the NRA is taking due process more seriously than the Lords of Enlightenment in the Democratic caucus are. That’s not supposed to happen in the progressive understanding of good and evil. So the Cornyn bill becomes the “NRA bill” and all right-thinking people know we needn’t bother ourselves about that.