By BENJY SARLIN
The White House and gun control supporters are gearing up for a whirlwind month, with plans to pass reform legislation before outrage over the Sandy Hook massacre has a chance to fade.
While the fiscal cliff has dominated Washington’s attention in recent weeks, lawmakers and activists are laying the groundwork for their big push. Vice President Joe Biden, tasked with heading a commission to investigate gun violence, has been quietly meeting with experts, interest groups, and public officials and is expected to release a set of recommendations within weeks. Boston mayor Thomas Menino, co-chair of Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, told the Boston Herald this week that an optimistic Biden had assured him that Obama would sign legislation “by the end of January.”
“We had been led to believe their report would come by end of January, but we’re hearing they may want to have something out by January 15, even quicker than expected,” Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, told TPM.
House Democrats are moving ahead with their own plans as well. On Friday, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), chair of the newly created Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, announced the appointment of 12 vice chairs, including Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), the body’s leading voice on gun control. According to a Democratic aide, the group plans to release its recommendations in early February and is already organizing public hearings on the issue.
Obama has personally identified an assault weapons ban and limits on ammunition magazine size as top priorities. Other possible reforms could include background check requirements for purchases at gun shows, a loophole that’s helped create a huge market of off-record arms purchases.
Pro-gun groups have dominated Congress in recent years and, while lawmakers approved by the National Rifle Association have mostly kept their heads down in recent weeks, any legislation could face an difficult path to passage, or even a vote, especially in the Republican-led House.
Glaze said his group would work hard to build public support, hosting local events with various mayors, dozens of whom will descend on Washington later this month for The United States Conference of Mayors winter gathering.
Gun violence survivors are also planning trips to lobby lawmakers to support legislation. Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who survived a mass shooting in 2011, could play a prominent role in that regard: on Wednesday she met with Bloomberg in New York and on Friday traveled to Newtown to comfort families who lost loved ones in the attack there.
But Glaze acknowledged the NRA has long held an advantage not only in its cash resources, but in its large and active grassroots membership, which has rallied in the past to whip members of Congress against gun control bills. For gun control advocates, they’ll have to offer a compelling case that lawmakers who squelch reforms will pay a price in the midterm elections and that means building their own active network of supporters. Glaze is confident they can do so, citing recent polls showing restrictions on extended ammunition clips and an expansion of background checks to be popular nationally.
“The broad solutions are there and if Congress doesn’t act I think theyre going to be digging themselves further into a big hole,” he said.
The Brady Campaign, the gun control group founded by former Ronald Reagan press secretary Jim Brady, is also expected to play a role in promoting legislation, but it’s an open question whether they can compete with the NRA’s experienced leadership. TPM reached out to the group’s staff in recent days for information on its plans, but received no response.
So now we have an idea of where the opposition to the 2nd Amendment are coming from as well as Biden and Obama. I hope that the NRA is geared up and ready for this. I would have no problem with background checks being done on Gun Show sale of guns or private citizens selling guns; we should be responsible for who we sell our guns. However, who is going to do the background checks on guns that are sold out of trunks of cars, in alleys and basements of run down buildings, or from homes? You see, that is where the majority of guns being used in crimes are being sold and no one seems to be addressing these areas. It is continued monitoring and control of legal gun owners that they prefer over doing something to monitor illegal gun sales and activities.
Lawmakers only take it so far and then fall short of the direction that they should be concerned. Gun Shows do not attract criminals, surprisingly. They don't want to risk being seen purchasing guns. But somehow this doesn't seem to sink into those anti-gun proponents minds; they are so determined that they completely miss this fact.
Once again I am confused why the 'back ground check" issue is put out there with so little rebuttal since the biggest hole in the back ground check process is the failure to include much in the way of mental health records in the current instant check due to medical privacy constraints pushed by the Left. Of course the same constraints don't seem to be an issue if some Fed dork somewhere wants to look at your records to make you pay more or limit care options, A lot of the "progressive" states don't allow private firearm transfers so that is sort of a red herring as well.
Linda: Anyone who buys through a FFL holder MUST PASS A FED INSTANT BACKGROUND CHECK under current law! The shows I've been at all have police as security so law enforcement is there if there is a questionable buyer. BTW, private sales, where allowed. are done at flea markets and a whole host of other places so not sure what the alleged "gun show loophole"' really is. Sounds a lot like the ignorance pushed about "assault weapons" and "high capacity magazines" that the real capacity seems to vary based on the gun control idiot expounding on the issue who has no clue as to the variety of magazine needs depending on the actual firearm itself.
John, I was aware that FFL holder must pass a fed instand background check under the current law; I was stating that I had not problem with that if you read closer. I am also aware that the shows are policed; was being a little sarcastic and sorry if it was misleading. That is why I was mentioning trunks of cars, alleys, etc.
As far as medical records are concerned, they cannot access your records without your signing a consent, John. That is also the law and strictly enforced as that is an area of medicine I am personally knowledgable and my training was in this areas and I worked for many years in this area, medical records. When you take out an insurance policy (medical) or go on medicare, you sign such a consent to allow your records to be released to the insurer. So it is a little different. If they want to access a person's mental health records, they would have to have their consent, too. So, if they want to have you sign a consent form to view your medical records (which would include mental health records) in order to buy a firearm, this is how it would have to work. People have the right to privacy and so they would have to determine if they want their medical record entered into the sale or chose to just not buy a weapon at that point.
But we are still missing the point; those that want weapons for illegal use are still going to have access no matter what they do to stop this. It will continue to happen. They are only addressing the issue with those that legally purchase weapons and are still ignoring the real culprits, those that obtain them illegally.
Linda; I'm almost in full agreement with you, but there is a "caveat" there which may or may not be completely legal, but unfortunately, may be necessary.
I can understand why it should be that your medical records (mental as well) might be private and be used only between yourself and your chosen doctors or psychiatrists etc. Simply because if they were open for display there would likely be a zillion people who would no longer be elizible for many different types of jobs.
But when it comes to psychopaths or schizophrenics (who can and often do, turn to committing very anti social acts, wouldn't you agree that a doctor (or a panel of experts in that field) should be able to protect the masses by reporting such a person?
Likewise, there are people who appear to be perfectly healthy, but are subject to blacklouts at random. No warning, no way to pull over and sleep it off, it just happens and if they are riding down the road at 60 miles an hour and black out, whose fault is it if they hit a van loaded with 4 adults and 8 kids and kill them all?
Do you not agree that this person, who may have been a patient of a doctor, should have been told that they should not drive, and therefore that doctor has a responsibility to notify the licensing bureau of that state that John Doe is subject to this that and the other thing?
Sure it sounds unfair, but so does mass murder if proper steps are not taken.
Linda: I get your point but mine is more specific: What is this "gun show loophole" everyone keeps talking about? I hear it but no one is saying what it is! I live in a state with lots of gun shows and no firearms ID card system like some states have. If I buy any type of firearm at the show and the dealer is a FFL holder they go through the same instant check process as would be done in a brick and mortar store selling firearms. The only exception in my state is a private owner can sell to me without the check. Now the same private owner can sell at a flea market or via a estate action or just because we happen to talk and he mentions he has a particular piece for sale. You can also inherit the weapon or pass it off to a relative with no background check as well. Some states do not allow private transfers of any type to occur legally even if it is a father giving a family heirloom to a son. It appears that the "gun show loophole" really is to prohibit all transactions of any type with out going through a FFL dealer be it one who operates a store or at a gun show. I'm not in favor of that
If that is the case then that brings up the issue of the value of the Federal instant check system that is only as good as the data it has. That means all states need to keep their register of felons/etc up to date and the current rules on determining "mental health" status need to be readdressed (BTW, I think that could well lead to an overreach as well). When you fill out the Federal form it asks a number of questions as well including are you in the country illegally and are you a substance abuser. Sort of wonder how that stacks up to current "progressive" moves to make being here illegally a non issue or for more "liberal" drug laws that are also progressive" issues to push. Not sure how any of the push for stricter control over purchasers would have had an affect on AZ, CO, or CN incidents. Same with controlling the weapons since the only confirmed "assault weapon" usage was the CO incident and that weapon apparently jammed so he used a shotgun. Reports on CN said the rifle was still in his car so that wouldn't have played a part if true.
Unfortunately this whole "gun control" discussion going on the political arena is way too much of an agenda driven process with too much emotion and misinformation rather than logic and facts. NOT TOO SURPRISING WHEN WE GET INTO THE SO CALLED "SOCIAL ISSUES".
John, chill. No matter what we do it is not going to be 100% foolproof. The whole point is to make the language stronger on who should NOT be given a hand gun. They will make the language stronger but it won't prevent people who intend to kill others from doing so. Anyone can buy a gun in the black market if they have the money.
Everything Obama talks about is a freaking CRISIS. This is how he gets things through congress....he is our CHICKEN LITTLE PRESIDENT. The sky is always falling....that's his presidential style.
He needs to be stopped but no one knows how to stop him.
My problem on this whole thing, Diane, is what exactly this stronger language is to be? Currently you cannot sell pistols to anyone under 21, no pistol sale can be made interstate except through a FFL holder at each end of the transaction, all sales going through a FFL must follow the Federal guidelines as to the paperwork and the instant check, and many states have additional requirements that include a firearms ID to purchase and even a permit per pistol signed by the local police chief as NJ does. None of these current restricts prevent the three biggest tragedies of late including two where the shooter purchased his guns legally even though there were mental health issues that the police (in the case of the Gifford shooting) and the shooter's doctor (in the case of the CO shooting) were aware of before hand. This is a CRISIS because this is a prime "social issue" of the Left, especially the likes of Dear Leader/Finestein/Schumer/Bloomberg/Malloney/etc, and also is a issue the Leftwing media dearly loves as well. it also takes the spot light off of things like Benghazi/spending reduction/Fast and Furious/other issues the Left wishes to avoid. Most of what I hear blathered about on this issues (as well as many other issues) if full of half truths, no truths. ignorance, and political grandstanding. The underlying point is the GOP and 2nd Amendment supports should stifle this now since it is unproductive and a distraction from real problems. We have how many threads going on this issue on Political Derby and are not addressing bigger problems like the ones mentioned above or the stealth nuclear disarmament of the US without a treaty the Dear Leader is cooking up now.