The “concern” here may have less to do with whether the two sides can get together than whether they can get together *soon.* Supporters of the bill want it passed before the July 4th recess, knowing that gun-rights advocates will use that period to organize and try to pressure Senate Republicans in favor into changing their minds. But in order for the bill to pass before then, they need it to hit the Senate floor and start moving ASAP.
As in, within the next 48 hours.
So the fact that they’ve hit a snag — two snags, actually — doesn’t mean the bill is dead. But it increases the chances that it’ll eventually die by extending the timetable for passage past the recess. Big news.
I think Cornyn has been operating in good faith during this process, sincerely wanting to reach a deal, but the suspicions between lefties and righties on guns run so deep that liberals on Twitter today are accusing him of having intended to sabotage the bill all along. “HERE WE GO,” they’re saying, pointing to these tweets:
CORNYN: “I don’t think we’re at that point yet, but because if we can settle these two issues, I think we’re on our way, but I am concerned now, given the time it takes and the need to complete our work, really by tomorrow, that we got to settle these issues…”
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) June 15, 2022
More from CNN:
Cornyn: “One of the issues has to do is whether the funds that we will vote for will be available to states that don’t have red flag laws, but do have crisis intervention programs and things like mental health courts, veterans courts, assisted outpatient treatment programs.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 15, 2022
The other issue: “Well, the other issue has to do with the way that nontraditional relationships are handled in terms of domestic violence and misdemeanors. We got to come up with a good definition of what that actually means.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 15, 2022
That last bit refers to the so-called “boyfriend loophole.” Currently, domestic abusers are barred by federal law from owning guns if they were married to, lived with, or had a child with their victim. What about someone who abuses his girlfriend but doesn’t live with her, though? The bipartisan group may be struggling with how to define the scope of a relationship such that domestic violence committed within its parameters is grounds for losing one’s Second Amendments. Should the “boyfriend loophole” apply only to romantic relationships? If so, how many dates are needed before we should worry about violence in the aftermath of a break-up?
I guess the idea is that if you’ve dated someone briefly and “only” committed a misdemeanor in menacing her, you shouldn’t lose your right to a gun. I guess?
As for what Cornyn says about grant money, he’s vague. Does he mean that he wants states without red-flag laws to receive some federal money for mental-health treatment but not as much money as states that have RFLs? Or does he mean they should receive the same amount and apportion the funds as they see fit to try to stop lunatics before they shoot up a school? Because if it’s the latter, it would destroy the incentive to pass red-flag laws that the feds are supposedly trying to create. The grant idea was a compromise between left and right — in lieu of passing a federal red-flag law, Congress would set aside money to try to induce the states to set up their own.
If Cornyn’s position is now that states should get funding whether or not they set up a red-flag system, I imagine that might be a meaningful problem. And if they end up unable to compromise on it, there won’t be much left to the legislation. There’ll be some money for mental health plus the new background check system that includes juvenile records. Assuming AOC and the Squad don’t tank that in the House.
Maybe it’s just a negotiating tactic?
This is either a big problem or a way to get people to speed things and finish the legislation ASAP. Will probably know for sure tomorrow https://t.co/TFXyGgSt72
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) June 15, 2022
Or maybe it’s Cornyn losing his nerve:
On Monday, Tucker Carlson said red flag law proposal would lead to gun confiscation, and attacked the Republican senators who supported it, calling out Cornyn specifically for “Democratic talking points” from Pelosi and the DNC. https://t.co/sme7cJVW9w https://t.co/fcJjbyjH1x
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) June 15, 2022
I don’t know. According to Punchbowl, yesterday he made a presentation to GOP senators claiming that 84 percent of Americans who live in households with at least one gun support the package as described in the outline last weekend. No Republican official wants to piss off Fox News primetime, but Cornyn’s not up for reelection until 2026. If the numbers are on his side on this, he can certainly shrug Tucker off.
Does this sound like a guy who’s losing his nerve?
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) at hearing on the impact of gun violence on kids:
“Every time one of these shootings occurs we hear people say, ‘Do something’ … Unfortunately, there are also people who say, ‘Do nothing,’ and I for one am not going to be part of that cause.” pic.twitter.com/bVFJH7xWnD
— The Recount (@therecount) June 15, 2022
Meanwhile, political media is mulling over Mitch McConnell’s surprising announcement yesterday that he’ll vote yes on the bill assuming that it accurately reflects the outline announced last weekend. This NBC story astutely describes McConnell’s strategic thinking in getting to yes. He knows Americans are exasperated at seeing Congress forever paralyzed in the wake of mass shootings. He’s also eager to weaken the left’s campaign to eliminate the filibuster by showing voters that the Senate can still compromise. Mainly, though, he’s worried about losing suburban voters:
One day after the 2020 election, he said he’s “disturbed by the loss of support in the suburbs” for GOP candidates. “If you look at our situation, the Republican situation nationally, I think we need to win back the suburbs. We need to do better with college-educated voters than we’re doing lately, and we need to do better with women.”…
Liam Donovan, a lobbyist and former Republican campaign operative, attributed the intra-party shift to a growing prevalence of mass shootings and a “realignment of the GOP coalition.”
“Suburban Romney voters who had once been squarely part of the base are now up for grabs, if not beginning to lean Democrat, and this is the sort of issue that could make a big difference at the margin, both in the midterms and going forward,” Donovan said.
They’re going to get something done here, whether or not it contains money for red-flag laws, for the simple reason that neither side can afford to take the political blame for failure.
In lieu of an exit question, read Kevin Williamson on a glaring omission from the Senate gun deal. Why aren’t Republicans pushing to incentivize prosecutors to enforce gun laws already on the books, he asks? If you want stop the enormous number of violent crimes committed by habitual offenders, making sure they’re locked up when they violate extant gun laws is an easy way to do so.