Now that Nancy Pelosi has the Speaker’s gavel back in her hands, what will the first order of business be in the House? Ending the shutdown? Infrastructure? Healthcare? Nope. Aside from impeachment (which came up on day one), the first item on their list is gun control. I know… I know… you’re about to faint from shock. But the package they’ve assembled and plan to introduce on Tuesday isn’t nearly as broad and intrusive as many in the Democratic base might desire. In fact, the only confirmed detail in this plan is another move to expand background checks. (WaPo)
House lawmakers are planning to roll out a measure on Tuesday that would require universal background checks for nearly all firearms purchases, as House Democrats attempt to make good on their pledge to address gun control with their new majority.
The proposal, headlined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), is a bipartisan measure, with Rep. Peter T. King (D-N.Y.) (sic) serving as the lead Republican co-sponsor. According to an aide familiar with the package, the existence of which was previously reported in Politico, it will seek to impose universal background checks for the purchase and transfer of firearms, with some exceptions for hunting and family, but will not address an assault weapons ban.
There’s no mention of an “assault rifle” ban to be seen, nor anything about extended magazines or any of the other usual talking points. Personally, I’ve never been quite as upset about background checks when compared to actual gun bans because ferreting out dangerous criminals who may be attempting to purchase a gun from an authorized outlet is actually a good thing. My chief concern remains the fact that if you give the liberals an inch on these issues they’ll try to take a light-year.
There’s no sign that the Senate is going to support such a proposal, so it may all be moot anyway. But it’s worth asking Pelosi and her friends what specific problem they’re trying to solve. Their usual reasons don’t seem to carry much weight. The background check loophole is largely a myth circulated by gun grabbers to people who probably don’t understand the existing laws. The Democrats almost always point to mass shootings as a reason for doing this, but in one tragedy after another, we find out that the attackers were able to pass a background check before going over the edge.
The usual rhetoric about “keeping guns out of the hands of criminals” is a noble idea, but more background checks aren’t going to do much in that regard. The government tracks this sort of data on an ongoing basis and they’ve found that the vast majority of criminals engaging in gun crimes obtained their weapons illegally. One study from 2004 revealed that, of criminals in prison for crimes involving guns, roughly one quarter of them admitted to having stolen the gun they used. 40% said they had purchased their weapon on the black market and 37% got them through the “gray market” via illegal strawman purchases and various other illegal methods.
There’s the shocking reality of gun crime in America. People who are willing to engage in violent crime don’t generally flinch when it comes to violating background check laws. Go figure.
If the Democrats want to put through a meaningful effort to curb gun violence, we could really make some progress by furthering efforts to actually enforce the laws we already have on the books and support states and cities in their efforts to get people engaging in gun crimes off the street. That should be able to generate enough bipartisan support to pass easily.