Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Target Moves

If recent news reports are accurate, then the United States Senate will be discussing gun control measures that will look like John Cleese and the Ministry of Silly Walks: Take one small step, slide. take a giant stride forward, then backtrack a bit before moving forward again.

Whatever it takes.

Yes, the gun deal the Senate is discussing doesn't include a lot of things that I would like to see including bans on certain firearms and a limit on how much ammunition a person can purchase or use. According to the NRA, this is a good thing and it will protect my Second Amendment rights to carry an arsenal in my back pocket so the Obama Administration doesn't confiscate my guns in the name of public safety. I get that. But this is a major step forward in what will be a years-long process to bring our gun laws in line with socially responsible behavior and the sense that Newtown changed the debate for good over whether the constitution allows us unlimited personal firepower.

The negotiations over the proposed bill have been fraught with political dangers for both Republicans and Democrats. It's still so partisan that Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania didn't even want New York Democrat Chuck Schumer in the news conference announcing the deal for fear that Schumer's presence would put off gun rights advocates. And of course, there's still the prospect of a GOP-led filibuster, but support for that has waned over the past day. Looks like even Mitch McConnell is powerless to stop common sense. But he's trying.

I am cautiously optimistic that we will get a gun bill through the Senate. The House will be a higher hurdle, but enough conservatives can probably feel safe to vote for any compromise bill. If the House votes it down, look for President Obama to pull out all the stops to make it an issue in 2014.

It's imperfect, but it's a start. Get a bill passed. It can always be improved later on.

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