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David Hogg and Cameron Kasky are two of the nation’s best-known advocates for stricter gun laws.
four years ago both were in Parkland, Florida, When a gunman killed 17 classmates and staff at his high school. Both helped launch and lead a student-led movement in response to that massacre.
But this past week, the two reacted very differently to an emerging news bipartisan agreement That includes a series of incremental steps — such as federal support for state “red flag” laws and funding for mental health services — gathered and agreed in the wake of last month’s elementary school massacre. Uvalde, Texas,
Hogg said it was time to “celebrate” the agreement, telling time That the proposed legislation is “represented at the federal level more than ever before in my lifetime.”
Kasky, taking it to her twitter feeddenounced the agreement as “pathetic” and “a huge loss to the movement” – and described claims to the contrary as an “illusion”.
Hogg’s description of the historical context sounds correct – it would arguably be the most critical gun laws since 1994, when Congress passed a now-defunct “assault weapons ban,
But it is less than what the advocates were talking about a few weeks ago. Furthermore, with a topic as politically divisive as guns—and enough negotiating cabal to include Sensing Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas)—it’s safe to assume that lawmakers will find that there are more differences between them, not less, as they work through the details.
This is likely to lead to even more compromises and a worse bill, which is what it is saying. And he’s assuming there’s a compromise at all.
Murphy knows this. His allies in Congress do too. Still, they are praising the agreement and preparing to vote for it – “resigning themselves to take a small victory,” as HuffPost’s Kevin Robillard wrote on Monday“Hopefully this can ease the GOP’s fear of political blowback and pave the way for future action toward gun control.”
Will their hopes come true? Is this morsel of reform really worth implementing? It will be years before anyone can answer those questions with authority. But I can think of a few good reasons to believe that the deal will live up to the hype.
Most of those reasons are related to gun violence and the ability to do something about it. But one of them pertains to American democracy – and there is a possibility that this bill could indirectly help protect it.
Even a small dent in gun deaths would make a lot
First, a quick refresher America’s Gun Violence Problem,
The US is an outlier among economically advanced countries with a high number of gun-related deaths. And while this may reflect a number of factors, including a cultural affinity for weapons, the available evidence strongly suggests that the number one reason is the sheer number of firearms in circulation. Simply put, no peer country comes close.
The dramatic reduction in firearms will almost certainly lead to a dramatic reduction in firearm-related deaths. But there is no real possibility of this happening in the near future, because (a) the public probably won’t support it (b) Congress won’t vote for it (c) actually collecting all the guns in circulation would be an almost impossible task.
That’s why MPs like Murphy and the group giffords And brady has focused on minor steps, such as banning certain types of weapons or accessories, as well as tightening background checks or finding other ways to keep guns out of people’s hands, which are likely to lead to violence against humans. use them, whether against others or themselves.
New proposed agreement – which HuffPost’s Igor Bobik covered At the time of the announcement – imagines some very small steps in that direction. They include the ability to check juvenile records for background checks, and new funding for states that want to enact “red flag” laws that allow police to take guns away from people whose recent behavior (court evidenced through proceedings) suggest that they are likely to cause harm.
This agreement will also help to invest in school safety and mental health.lover loophole“Which excludes unmarried partners from rules that keep guns away from people with a history of domestic violence.
Lovers Loophole (And, Yes, It Happens More Often Lover Girlfriends using guns for violence) is one of the provisions that received little public attention until recently. But gun violence experts have talked about it for years, like HuffPost’s Amanda Terkel (writing with Kevin) noted This week, And provisions already on the books in several states have reduced intimate partner violence from 14% to 16%, a . According to study pair,
This may not seem like much, which is an ongoing topic for the provisions under discussion. Neither of those are going to have a singular, transformative effect. but in the country annual firearm deaths If there are in the thousands, a decrease of a few percentage points could mean hundreds, even thousands, of lives could be saved.
There are political downsides – and upsides too
The main case against passing such incremental changes is political – that is, it can actually set back the cause of reducing gun violence, by allowing opponents to pretend they have done something worthwhile. And as a result, can evade accountability. It’s a reasonable argument, in theory, but it rests on the assumption that voters will punish lawmakers for blocking strong gun measures.
How solid is this notion? Strong gun reforms are hugely popular and there have certainly been times in the not-too-distant time when opponents of those reforms faced political consequences.
One reason the arms embargo passed in 1994 (and a law creating a new background check system passed a year earlier) is that Bill Clinton won the 1992 presidential election, and one of the reasons he won repeatedly attacked his opponentIncumbent President George H.W. Bush, to block earlier proposals.
But since then history has given many more examples that legislators oppose gun laws and avoid punishment for it. This includes most Republicans who Voted against bipartisan law 2012 onwards sandy hook massacre, even though then-President Barack Obama made that law top priority for the start of his second term. (there was an exception Kelly AyotteA GOP senator from New Hampshire who was targeted by gun law advocates and who lost re-election in 2016.)
Republicans opposed to gun laws in general apparently feel some political pressure to act now; They would otherwise be unwilling to support even these mild steps. (Even Senate Republican Leaders Mitch McConnell Might be on board.) But to think that a really strong law would make for a stronger law is, at this point, a serious leap of faith.
And there is at least as much chance that such a vote could be habit-forming, in the way Democrats like Murphy are suggesting. If there are Republicans out there who are genuinely interested in modest gun legislation, but are afraid of offending Second Amendment extremists — and there are probably some — they may feel more confident voting for future proposals, perhaps even critical ones. If they don’t have support for it cause a huge backlash.
The impact can also extend to issues beyond guns, which brings me to the point I promised about how all of this could help save democracy.
The current environment feels more and more like an existential crisis for the republic, and a big reason is the lack of more citizen-minded leaders in the Republican Party – something on vivid display in past weeks, as have GOP lawmakers. repeatedly challenged Proceeding and conclusion January 6 Committee,
An explanation of why high-minded Republicans are so hard to find these days is something that may continue to fill the books—in other words, it’s a huge topic for this newsletter. But just as voting for sensible gun reforms can become a habit for a small number of Republicans, so too can turning away from the most extreme elements of the party who seek to suppress votes and reverse electoral votes.
There is clearly no guarantee that consolidating the deal currently under discussion will contribute to such growth, as are no guarantee The deal would make a dent in gun violence. It might still be a chance worth taking.