There have been a couple of tragic mass shootings recently and, of course, politicians feel they have to show the voters they’re “doing something about the problem.” Accordingly, the House passed H.R. 8 — a totally useless gun background check bill that supporters claim would have prevented the shootings that occurred in Atlanta and Boulder.
They’re kind of fuzzy on how that would be possible. But Democrats can go to the voters and claim they were doing “something” about gun violence because they targeted law-abiding Americans who don’t shoot people and tried to force them to jump through hoops just to buy a gun.
A senior Republican aide said H.R. 8’s requirement that licensed gun dealers perform background checks nearly every time someone sells or even lends a gun to another person is a non-starter.
“H.R. 8 is just dead on arrival,” a senior Republican staffer said. “Period. It doesn’t have the votes. Not only does it not have the votes quietly it doesn’t have the votes loudly because Manchin and Toomey are out there opposing it.”
It’s a loony idea and at least one Democrat is opposing it. And since it’s not likely that Democrats will use reconciliation to ram it through the Senate, there’s no way the bill could pass.
But even many Republicans want to be seen “doing something about the problem” and there’s talk of a more bipartisan approach.
Staunch opposition has led to speculation that Democratic leadership will revive a bipartisan 2013 bill that would only apply background checks to private sales. Democratic threats to abolish the filibuster to ram through gun-control legislation could alienate Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), a sponsor of the 2013 background check bill, according to a senior aide.
“Senator Toomey is not interested in playing political games or being an example in a background check exercise,” the aide said. “He’s interested in achieving an actual outcome.”
In 2013, Toomey not only cosponsored the amendment to extend background checks to private sales but also played a leading role in selling the policy to voters and fellow senators. He was able to convince four Republican colleagues to vote for the proposal despite strong opposition from the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups. The amendment failed to meet the 60-vote threshold to break the filibuster. Toomey, a key swing vote in the Senate, said Democrats should put forward a background check bill that reflects a bipartisan consensus, according to the aide.
“He’s interested in a consensus product, he’s not interested in political theater,” the Toomey aide said. “He’s not interested in helping lead a project that’s just ultimately doomed to fail.”
So Chuck Schumer is stuck with trying to promote a totally partisan Democratic bill that wouldn’t prevent a single shooting and would energize the gun lobby. Unfortunately for him, the radicals don’t care. They want to stick it to Republicans and gun owners and this bill would be a good start.
But you can’t make lemonade out of apples. There’s just no way this bill goes anywhere in Washington except down the memory hole.