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A bipartisan group of senators have announced an agreement on gun legislation. I am not sure whether their deal has been reduced to legislative language, and I don’t know whether it will get through the Senate, or whether Democrats in the House will vote for it. (If I were a Democrat, I would think that the deal is extremely weak, and its main effect may be to take gun control off the table in November.)
As summarized by the senators’ press release (link above), the deal sounds pretty good to me. There is no foolishness about “assault weapons.” It includes a focus on mental health, recognizing the fact that our country is essentially without a mental health care system since the institutions were emptied and closed several decades ago:
Investment in Children and Family Mental Health Services
● National expansion of community behavioral health center model; major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs; and other support services available in the community, including crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.
I don’t have much faith in this kind of government program, but at least it gestures in the right direction–mental health–rather than toward pointless gun control regulations.
And this, I think, is a great idea. It actually closes a genuine loophole:
Under 21 Enhanced Review Process
● For buyers under 21 years of age, requires an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement.
As I understand it, the NICS system currently does not have access to juvenile justice records. Thus an 18 or 19 year old will show up as having no record, and therefore no impediment to buying guns. And yet, juveniles commit a high percentage of violent crimes. This strikes me as a good step in the direction of not coddling juveniles to the extent we have in the past.
I am not sure what this next point means. Is it intended to incentivize states to enact “red flag” laws? Here we need to see the actual legislation:
● Provides resources to states and tribes to create and administer laws that help ensure deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals whom a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others, consistent with state and federal due process and constitutional protections.
The bill apparently will help to finance school safety officers. This is really a local function and “support[ing] school violence prevention efforts” probably just means putting more liberals on the public payroll. But still, to the extent that it means more armed guards in schools, it is a move in the right direction, not the wrong direction:
Funding for School Safety Resources
● Invests in programs to help institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, support school violence prevention efforts and provide training to school personnel and students.
There is more to the bill, which you can see summarized at the link. The bottom line, based on the descriptions we have so far, is that it could have been a lot worse. In particular, bringing juvenile records into the NICS system is an excellent idea. And if “doing something” deflates the gun control issue politically, at least for the time being, this is not a bad price to pay.
STEVE adds: Everyone assumes that this bill is a lock to pass in the House, since there is no filibuster, etc. I’m not so sure. With the House so close, I could easily see five to 10 House Democrats in tough, semi-rural districts (like Virginia’s Abigail Spanberger) who will not want to cast a “gun control vote.” And some lefties like AOC might oppose the bill because it isn’t strong enough.
UPDATE: For what it’s worth, Maxine Waters says the House will quickly pass the Senate bill, and, per Waters, Nancy Pelosi believes the same. As Steve points out, it wouldn’t take many defectors to falsify that prediction. If the bill does pass the House, it seems to me that it will take the air out of the gun control balloon, as Democrats are desperate for accomplishments and will defend it as a positive compromise.