Is The NRA Ready To Make A Deal on Gun Control?

In the aftermath of the shocking yet exhilarating electoral victory crafted by Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania’s 18th CD, I have seen numerous comments within the gun violence prevention (GVP) community raising concern about Lamb’s ‘pro-gun’ approach.  That’s understandable, given the fact that his very first television ad contained a snippet showing him blasting away with his beloved AR-15. Which presents something of a dilemma for the GVP crowd going into November, because they have tied themselves to a campaign to ban assault rifles, among other things.

lamb             Actually, Lamb isn’t the first post-Trump Democratic candidate to fashion a campaign around being pro-gun.  Last year a Republican, Greg Gianforte, overcame an assault of a reporter as well as the charge that he was a carpet-bagger to win a special election against Rob Quist, the latter beginning his campaign with a television ad showing him shooting what he claimed was his family’s trusty, ol’ Winchester to prove he was a Montana native through and through.

If I wanted to make a quick buck, I’d go downstairs to my private gun range (that’s right, I can get up from this computer, walk down a flight of stairs and bang away to my heart’s content) and do a couple of shooting videos that could then be sold to the DNC.  And every Democratic candidate running in one of those ‘soft’ red Congressional districts could splice a piece of video into their television ads to prove they are ‘pro-gun.’

Could control of Congress in 2018 depend on which party is better at selling a message about how much they love guns?  Whether or not this turns out to be the case, what I find interesting is how the NRA has suddenly begun to change its messaging in what is obviously an appeal to sell itself beyond its most extreme base. According to Chris Cox, the NRA is ready to engage in a ‘broad discussion’ about the ‘culture of violence’ which exists today. The purpose of this discussion is to “take action to prevent violence and protect 2nd Amendment rights,” including gun-violence restraining orders (GVRO) which the NRA used to oppose.

Even the NRA’s hard-and-fast opposition to expanding background checks all of a sudden appears to have changed.  Before last week, America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ opposed any extension of background checks, anywhere, anytime at all. But last week the narrative changed. Here’s Wayne-o’s latest message to the faithful: “We will oppose any attempt to make people engage in a background check to transfer a gun to a relative, neighbor or friend.” How’s about selling a gun to someone you just met? I didn’t notice that Wayne-o is saying that any and all gun transfers should take place without a NICS check.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that when the 116th Congress begins its 2019 session that the majority switches from red to blue. And let’s further say that a new gun-control is proposed expanding background checks to secondary sales. Right now the bill that has been filed by Senator Murphy (D-CT) basically prohibits the transfer of any gun to anyone without first doing a background check unless the person receiving the gun is a spouse, domestic partner, child, sibling or other relative of the person getting rid of the gun.

Guess what? Figure out how to define ‘friends’ and ’neighbors,’ add them to that list and you’ve got yourself a comprehensive, national background-check bill. But it takes both sides to come up with language which each side can sell to their constituencies as being nothing other than what they have always said.

Until last week the NRA opposed any extension of background checks – no ifs, ands or buts. All of a sudden, the tune has changed. I’m not saying the NRA is morphing into a gun-control organization. But it’s one thing to take a shot at the enemy, it’s quite another to sit down and make a deal. Is either side in the gun debate willing to see something like this actually occur?

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21 thoughts on “Is The NRA Ready To Make A Deal on Gun Control?

  1. Thank you. I worked on a bill trying to get those “friends and neighbors” into New Mexico House Bill 50, a secondary market background check bill which died a slow death in the 2017 New Mexico legislative session. Why? Because the gun control hard liners (helped by Everytown lobbyists and a plethora of Moms) had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the idea of compromise. Meanwhile, the original bill had all but one of New Mexico’s sheriffs in hard opposition and scores of gun toting gun owners hollering that the bill was an infringement, prelude to confiscation, unconstitutional, etc., etc.

    A few days before the end of the session, my legislator, the sponsor, introduced a version very similar to the one I wrote as a substitute bill but at that point too many people were grumpy and a Democratic committee chair tabled it. Whatta waste of time.

    I suspect that with a Dem governor, they will again introduce the Everytown bill (it was the exact bill they introduced in Maine and Nevada) and this will play out all over again.

  2. It’s not going to help. If Omar Mateen can walk through a background check – if James Holmes can walk through background check – how does the new strategy help? Most countries don’t do background checks, and that’s why.

  3. If the NRA really wants to represent a majority of gun owners, they will come to the table immediately. And that means supporting universal background checks (which super majorities of gun owners support) as well as reasonable limits on concealed carry and magazine capacity. Let’s get back to the old days when the NRA promoted gun safety and responsible use.

  4. Mateen got through because his spouse didn’t report him for DV. Holmes was borderline–his shrink was unsure of whether to report him for a “5150”. The USAF shooter in Texas got through because the AF didn’t bother reporting him to the NICS. And Dylan Roof. Yeah, no system is idiot proof but that’s not a justification for doing nothing.

    • @ Khal Spencer

      Yeah, I’m hearing you. The problem is that it isn’t just one or two events. People who shouldn’t have guns are passing background checks way more often than they should. After the event people say that, given what was known about the person, they shouldn’t be able to pass a background check. Although there may have been well-founded suspicions, there were no prohibiting facts, and the facts are all that count. Then the proposed solution is, amazingly, more background checks. Interactions with the police, the FBI, being on a no-fly list, being on strong medication – this is all very suspicious, but not proof that they are unfit, and so they pass the background check. Wash, rinse, repeat.

      The problem with background checks is this: real life is complex, whereas a background check is a simple go-no go test. Much of the information about someone needs to be carefully sifted, and some is missing and requires more investigation. This cannot be done in an instant background check. Only human beings can do this over a period of weeks.

      James Holmes is a classic example. In a face-to-face interview it wouldn’t have taken long to establish that he was not a well person. He had, for example, a belief that happiness was finite, and to be happy he needed to take other people’s happiness away. People has major reservations about how he was doing with his medication. There was also the silly haircut. However, there is no easy way to boil that down into a three second background check. So, he passed the background check, since he had not officially been prohibited. He bought guns, including an AR-15 223, planned an attack over a long period (so a three day waiting period wouldn’t have helped) and then executed the plan.

      Devin Kelley, the Sutherland Church shooter, also passed his background check. He had a very serious domestic violence conviction, but this was not on a computer. A human being could track down his life history, realise that he had been discharged from the military, with a bad conduct discharge, find out why, and ban the sale. However, this was not possible in three seconds. So, he passed a background check, and…

      Omar Mateen was a thug, who used his ex-wife as a punchbag. However, he was not convicted, and…

      If you would like a British case, Thomas Hamilton is a compelling example. He was, as is standard practice, a licensed gun owner. Every five years British gun owners need to be re-licensed, in the gun owner’s home, by a serving police officer. The license interview was a car crash. He bullied the police officer, and there was the small matter of the framed black and white photos of half-naked boys in his house. The gun license was, however, reissued after he passed an improvised background check, done on a police computer by the senior supervising police officer. Mr Hamilton subsequently walked into the Dunblane primary school and shot dead 16 five-year-old children, the teacher who tried to protect them, and finally himself.

      Background checks don’t work, on either side of the Atlantic. It’s worse than not being idiot proof.

      • @Khal Spencer: “What do we do?”

        Licensing. Instead of expecting a good and comprehensive answer in three seconds, dig deeper for the most interesting people, and wave most through – most people are realy nice, and you don’t need to interview them. Do one license every five years.

        Either for all guns, or perhaps for certain types of guns.

        Interesting things include contact with the police, FBI, terrorist watch list, no fly lists, genetically disposed to psychopathy, on powerful drugs, etc. Interesting people are not necessarily prevented from getting guns but you ask more questions.

        Step 1 background check
        Step 2 sieve for interesting people
        Step 3 invite interesting people for interview

        There should be a better solution than the above, and the gauntlet is thrown down.

  5. First of all we don’t have near as big of a ” Problem ” as most people think or the media portrays it as. The US ranks very low as far as homicides as a percentage of population when compared to other countries. We don’t even make the top 100. Depending on which statistics you look at the US has somewhere between three hundred million to six hundred million or more guns. This is far more guns than most other countries combined so of course a large percentage of these homicides are committed with firearms. But we don’t have a high homicide rate at all. And the vast majority of them are committed with hand guns. More people are killed with hammers and clubs than with rifles of any kind. And as a matter of fact ( again depending on what year ) almost twice as many people are killed with hands and feet in any given year than with rifles of any kind.

    All of that being said, most ( 65 to 85 percent ) of the US homicides (depending on what year and what statistics you look at ) are gang related. Of these most are convicted felons and it is already against the law for them to purchase or possess a gun in the first place. But I digress.

    But even though it is low if you want to reduce it even more, you have to drastically change the mental health care system in the US :

    1) All patients with Bipolar disorder, any schizophrenia, PDSD, etc. be treated similar prison parolees.

    A) When they are diagnosed they are immediately institutionalized
    B) If they are able to be stabilized on medication and are deemed fit by a VERY
    carefully selected panel or they are cured they may be released.
    C) They would have monthly, quarterly, and yearly evaluations and if they failed any of
    these they go back to the institution.
    D) If they violate any law or the procedure ( not taking their medication )then back to
    the institution.
    E) If anyone is released and they commit an atrocity then the medical professional that
    released them will be seriously sanctioned and/or lose their license to practice.

    2) Make it illegal for these patients to even apply to buy a gun or to possess a gun.

    3) Make it mandatory for every government agency including police departments ,military, health care facility to report every ineligible person to the ATF with very stiff mandatory penalties.

    4 ) Make it a stiff mandatory prison sentence for any ineligible person to even apply to buy a gun or in possession of a gun.

    5) Make it a stiff mandatory sentence for any dealer not to report someone who attempts to buy a gun who is ineligible.

    6 ) Make sure that anyone that any gun law violation is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law period.

      • What is your definition of a homicide and what are the definitions of homicide in the other OECD countries?

      • If you use law enforcement data, the definitions are often very different. But the 2010 article by Hemenway took that into account because he was able to look a very comparable medical death records that all OECD countries use to figure their population (including us) and again our homicide rate is much, much higher: http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(15)01030-X/abstract. On the other hand, public health researchers miss two points in the more guns = more homicides argument. First, if you deduct gun homicides from all homicides and compare us to the rest of the OECD, generally speaking we are still higher but the gap isn’t as great as when you compare all homicides. So we start out more violent than other countries to begin with. Second, because PH gun research follows the standard epidemiological template for understanding injuries, the focus is on the victim because every medical condition needs to be analyzed first and foremost in terms of who experiences the condition. But gun violence is a particular type of violence needs to be studied not from the perspective of the victim, but from the perspective of the perpetrator, since a very small percentage (3% or less) of people who try to seriously hurt someone else do it by using a gun. More than 2 million aggravated assaults occur each year but less than 100,000 involve guns. So if you really want to understand gun violence by comparing it to other OECD countries you should compare gun violence rates based not on a per-capita basis but on a per-gun basis. And when you create a gun violence rate based on the number of incidents divided by the number of privately-owned guns, we rank somewhere in the middle of the OECD. Which changes the entire argument. I’m going to have a very detailed paper posted about this shortly.

      • You are only looking at one study that leaves off Mexico, Russia, Latvia, Brazil, Argentina, and on and on ? Not cherry picking are we ??? Comparing not just apples and oranges but also cabbages , turnips, potatoes, and squash.

        Also you did not read what I had written above or you did NOT understand it.

        I am convince that the freer we citizens are the more prosperous and happy we will be. I equally despise Republicans and Democrat politicians. But even though I don’t trust the Republicans I find myself agreeing with them more than I do the Democrats because at least the make some sense some of the time. Every once in while I think I might run upon a big government proponent/liberal/Democrat that may not be able to change my mind but maybe at least make an intelligent argument for expanding government and limiting my rights. But it NEVER happens.I guess I will never learn. I don’t know why I ever waste my time. SMDH

    • “1) All patients with Bipolar disorder, any schizophrenia, PTSD, etc. be treated similar prison parolees.”

      PTSD – Not unlike what soldiers get. They give for their country, and you propose to treat them as prison parolees?

      Omar Mateen would have walked straight through that bureaucracy.

      • The question was :” All that said, and I don’t disagree. What do we do ? ” And I qualified it with:

        First of all we don’t have near as big of a ” Problem ” as most people think or the media portrays it as . The US ranks very low as far as homicides as a percentage of population when compared to other countries. We don’t even make the top 100. Depending on which statistics you look at the US has somewhere between three hundred million to six hundred million or more guns. This is far more guns than most other countries combined so of course a large percentage of these homicides are committed with firearms. But we don’t have a high homicide rate at all. And the vast majority of them are committed with hand guns. More people are killed with hammers and clubs than with rifles of any kind. And as a matter of fact ( again depending on what year ) almost twice as many people are killed with hands and feet in any given year than with rifles of any kind.

        I went on to Say : All of that being said, most ( 65 to 85 percent ) of the US homicides (depending on what year and what statistics you look at ) are gang related. Of these most are convicted felons and it is already against the law for them to purchase or possess a gun in the first place. But I digress.

        Then I said :

        So let me make this as clear as I possibly can. I regret that we lose even one life but we can NOT remove all the risks out of life. I DO NOT think that we have a significant gun problem in the US. The odds of any law abiding citizen dying of gun violence is EXTREMELY LOW. I think we should prosecute criminals and give them harsh mandatory sentences while letting everything else take care of itself.

        And NO we will NEVER be able to stop ALL gun violence and still live in a free republic. I am more than happy to take my chances if we never have ANY MORE gun legislation. Furthermore all these lame-brained proposals like restricting the age limit to buy guns, banning assault weapons, etc. WILL NOT WORK.

        And NO we will NEVER be able to stop ALL gun violence and live and in a free republic.

        BUT if all these uninformed gun control advocates are determined that we ” Have to do Something ” then refer to the list above. I am NOT FOR IT. It will NOT stop mass shootings but it would seriously reduce them.

        If you have a better idea I am all ears ???

      • BTW Omar Mateen was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. So if I was allowed to set this system up unabated ( and I am not at all saying that I would want to ) and pick the employees to staff it; He would NOT have walked straight through it. I assure you.

      • “BTW Omar Mateen was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder”

        So was Stephen Fry, a British comedian who hasn’t shot anyone, and as far as I know doesn’t want to shoot anyone. Your plan isn’t discriminating between people who are OK and people who are dangerous.

        You’re still looking for a three second solution. The only way to improve matters is to spend more time on interesting people, which is licensing.

  6. As a gun rights person, I am not bothered much by the idea of a bgc at a transfer per se. Even at a GS. The important thing is that no searchable record be established linking individual guns to owners. In practice, that only helps confiscation, not catching bad guys.

  7. BTW, folks should consider that creating extreme incentives for having an untraceable gun will just increase the supply. I mean, if going thru the legal process is expensive and or humiliating, and has to be redone every five years, what does one expect except folks doing whatever it takes to stay off their radar. And is how honest people think.

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