Well, it’s finally here: a piece of gun control legislation that could actually pass. The Fix NICS Act, which seeks to strengthen background checks by penalizing federal agencies that fail to forward criminal records to the FBI to update the National Instant Criminal Background Check system. The horrific shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas that left over 20 people dead, prompted the legislation. The shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley, was an Air Force veteran, who was court martialed for domestic violence in 2012. He was convicted and sentenced to a year in jail. He was given a “bad conduct” discharge (not the same as dishonorable) in 2014, but his criminal record was never forwarded to the FBI. That’s how he was able to obtain firearms, when he shouldn’t have. If one is convicted of domestic violence, they’re prohibited from purchasing or owning firearms.
There’s bipartisan support for this legislation. It could pass, but Democrats could torpedo it, despite strong support from Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), a key gun control advocate. Why? Well, because if this passes, that would be the end of the legislative offensive on gun rights. Oh, and they might want to use this for the 2018 midterms (via WaPo):
Even though one of their own is co-sponsoring the Fix NICS Act, which would punish federal agencies that don't submit criminal records to the national criminal background check system for firearms, Senate Democrats have spent their first few days back in Congress this week dissing the bill.
“What will prevent future tragedy? Comprehensive background checks will. The Fix NICS bill will not,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “Let’s not set our sights too narrow or squander this moment.”
It's not that Democrats don't want to patch up what both sides say are obvious holes in the background-check system; it's that they think this is a small step to reinforce an existing law rather than expand it. And if they support it, that might be the end of gun control reforms in this Congress, since Republicans will be reluctant to act on much else.
There is no such bill circulating after the massacre at a Parkland, Fla., high school. The lack of viable gun-control legislation in Congress right now is also precisely why Democrats feel pressured to resist this incremental step.
Democrats are fully aware that this vote is their only point of leverage in the debate, so they've got to play hardball to try to extract as much as they can from it. The Post's Ed O'Keefe reports they're also working with gun-control groups to find a way to politicize this whole issue to their advantage in November's midterm elections.
It's difficult to see another gun-control measure coming up for a vote right now.
The article mentions that universal background checks and a new ban on so-called assault weapons are not going to happen. It doesn’t have the votes in the Senate and it would certainly meet a quick death in the House. The best the anti-gun Left can hope for is force the Senate to hold a debate and vote on these measures that will go down and flames. But hey, at least we can use this issue for the midterms, right? That’s the Democratic mindset right now. It’s not about saving lives; it’s about getting more of them elected, even if that means cannibalizing bills that they support.