Gun Background Check Measure Dying a Well-Deserved Death in the Senate

Sen. Frank LautenbergU.S. GovernmentThe limp and pointless Senate measure to extend background checks to all sales made at gun shows and personal sales that originate with online listings appears to be losing steam. Democratic Senators from states where people actually care about their self-defense rights appear to be abandoning ship as they realize they're putting their political careers at risk in order to win nothing more than a political fig leaf for the president. And Republicans who might safely vote to gut the Second Amendment face enormous push-back from their pro-gun colleagues. Whatever is a senator to do, except abandon the worthless measure to its fate?

As Jacob Sullum has pointed out, licensed gun dealers always have to run background checks, so the "gun show exception" is actually a personal-transfer exception. Applying background checks to personal gun show sales might scoop up a few more transactions — or just drive people to arrange to meet where the rule doesn't apply. And actual online sales involving the shipping of a firearm already have to go through federally licensed dealers, who do background checks. The new measure would seem to require background checks for in-person sales that originate in online classified ads. Newspaper ads and flyers posted at a gun shop wouldn't be covered. What happens to people who advertise in multiple venues is anybody's guess.

Yeah, none of that makes any sense. And none of it would have prevented the Sandy Hook massacre, since Adam Lanza and his mom were both capable of passing any number of background checks, online, at a gun show, or stopped randomly on the street. That's a hell of a thing on which to make your political last stand. As the New York Times puts it:

In spite of a vote last Thursday in favor of debating new gun measures, some Democrats who are facing re-election next year in conservative states have already said they will not vote for the background check measure offered by Senators Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, forcing Democrats to look desperately across the aisle to fill the gaps.

Republicans, in the meantime, are bitterly torn between moderates who feel pressure to respond to polls showing a majority of Americans in support of some new gun regulations and conservatives who are deeply opposed to them. ...

Senator Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, says he will vote against the measure, and at least three other Democrats are expected to join him in trying to defeat it, including Heidi Heitkamp, a freshman senator from North Dakota. Some left-leaning Democrats may also balk because of the gun-rights provisions that have been added to the bill to entice Republicans.

Among the 16 Republicans who joined 50 Democrats and two independents in voting last week to proceed to consideration of gun legislation, roughly seven have already decided not to support the measure. Another half-dozen Republicans who voted to proceed on the bill remain ambivalent.

The Republican Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bob Corker of Tennessee, all of whom voted to proceed on the bill, are no votes right now, and several others are expected to also vote down the amendment on Tuesday, the expected day of the vote.

New Jersey's Frank Lautenberg is expected to support the measure — if he shows up. But he's three years older than the sun itself and has been largely absent from D.C. this year.

All of this is great political kabuki theater over a toothless gun bill. Real background check requirements would need to deeply regulate even personal transfers and would require some sort of registration system to be effective. They would also be unenforceable because they would attempt to reach into personal relationships — and would certainly land harmless people in prison in the attempt. It's hard to believe such an intrusive threat to personal liberty would pass, when the current Senate measure stumbles even before meeting an almost guaranteed doom in the House.

Meanwhile, Missouri, left to its own devices, is addressing school safety issues by allowing teachers to carry guns. So far, that seems to meet the approval of most parents. It's funny what states and localities can come up with in terms of locally acceptable solutions when left to their own devices.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I don't know when my senator's back up for election, but I hope in addition to this thing dying in the Senate, it ends Toomey's career.

  • albo||

    Yeah, what the hell is Toomey doing? Our state is pro-gun. The only anti-gunners are Philly Ds and some properous suburban Rs and Ds who think guns are icky except when used against the deer who eat herbaceous borders.

  • John||

    But Pat wants to be liked by the people that matter. You know the people in Washington who invite him to the good parties and write nice things about him in the Newspapers.

  • AuH20||

    John, there are also many nice parties in the Philadelphia area that Pat can be invited to after retirement, as an example of a "sensible" Republican.

  • John||

    That too.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The really cool critters, like Toomey, get to go on booze cruises on Manchin's boat.

  • Trespassers W||

    Huh. I never saw the "beltway cocktail parties" argument used against a political before.

  • Loki||

    what the hell is Toomey doing?

    Setting himself up for a future presidential run as the "maverick" republican who bravely defied the hardliners in his own party to reach across the aisle to work in bi-partisan fashion with democrats? IOW, he's trying to become the next John McCain.

  • ||

    Please God no. One John McCain is already too many.

  • phandaal||

    Good idea. That worked out really well for President McCain in his first election.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I hope this is true. I thought Obamacare was dead at one point also.

  • Loki||

    ^THIS^

    We've been burned too many times by bills that were supposedly dead somehow being passed at the last minute. Usually after they've been larded up with enough ammendments and political favors to buy key votes.

    Wasn't Dodd-Frank supposed to be dead at one point too?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    This is the same point I came into this thread to make. For being killed a dozen times, Obamacare sure is making a lot of ruckus.

  • Zeb||

    Getting Obamacare through the Senate was the tricky part. Here they might get it through the senate with similar tricks, but no way it passes the house.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: AlmightyJB,

    I hope this is true. I thought Obamacare was dead at one point also.


    And I thought they barely passed that one with a Democratic House and a few dirty tricks, which by the way also caused the Democratic defeat suffered in 2010, so don't think the same conditions apply now.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Well they already had a lot of those newbie dem reps fall on the sword for Obamacare so hopefully they've used up that resource.

  • sarcasmic||

    The employees, who have furnished their own guns, each also had to pass a background check, a drug test and a mental evaluation — all of which must be repeated annually, as well as additional firearms training and recertification.

    So they're more competent than the average cop?

  • WTF||

    So they're more competent than the average cop?

    Well, it's not a very high bar.

  • Drake||

    Cops in NJ have to go through the same crap as everyone else to buy a handgun.

  • nipplemancer||

    and they all bitch about it. "But, but, We're special!!"

  • Drake||

    The ones I know bitch because it's a long tedious process and a fucking ridiculous pain in the ass.

  • nipplemancer||

    When I was in the reserves I served with a bunch of cops (staties mostly) and they hated that there were no LEO exemptions. I once asked why they should be exempt, when the rest of us, 'us' being the rest of our company, wouldn't be. After all, as Marines we were arguably as well trained if not better trained in the use of firearms than most LEOs. I never got an answer.

  • sarcasmic||

    fytw

  • Rich||

    It's hard to believe such an intrusive threat to personal liberty would pass, when the current Senate measure stumbles even before meeting an almost guaranteed doom in the House.

    "Let me be clear. If, uh, Congress refuses to act, I will, uh, use everything in my power ...."

  • phandaal||

    *while pointing fist - thumb pointed out and up - at the audience*

  • Appalachian Australian||

    It's not been a good weekend for gungrabbers. Five (yes, five) bills passed the West Virginia house & senate last weekend, and are virtually assured the governor's signature, despite hefty opposition.

    Word on the street is that Manchin's political future in West Virginia is doomed post-2018. Mountain Staters don't appreciate gun control, and have good long-term memories.

  • John||

    It would have been nice if they would have realized what a crap weasel he is before electing him. How many times do red states have to elect Democrats who promise to be different only to then become crap weasels before they learn?

  • AuH20||

    West Virginia... has a complex relationship with the Republican party. Its a logically Republican state, and should have been so ever since it broke off from Virginia proper, but its been solid Dem since at least the 30s.

  • Zeb||

    Lots of unionized coal miners and rural poor people. Democrats are a pretty good fit.

  • Virginian||

    Yeah they also get an insane amount of federal pork.

  • thom||

    I'm sure the Missouri story will be roundly and soundly mocked and smirked at at various brunches along the coasts this weekend.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    he's three years older than the sun itself


    Yeah. I laughed.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    It's funny in the "why aren't you laughing?" way to hear Senators saying, "This is what teh peepul want!" and "I'll vote for it even if it costs me my job" in virtually the same breath.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I thought Obamacare was dead at one point also.

    You, too, hey?

  • Drake||

    Thanks for getting up my hopes that my ancient senile Senator will pass-away quietly before the next election. That old commie is sure to hang on until Booker's coronation.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    That old commie is sure to hang on until Booker's coronation.

    It's a shame Senators can't just name their successors. A guy who has had that seat for decades should have bequeathable ownership rights.

  • Drake||

    Technically Lautenberg is the Junior Senator from NJ. The Dems took him out of retirement when it became obvious "The Torch" was toast.

  • db||

    It'll be nice if all this gun control crap blows over. I was at the Knob Creek MG shoot this weekend and the breaks between shooting periods seemed longer than usual, the actual shooting was less than usual, and ammo that used to go for $300 per thousand rounds was priced at $900.

  • Virginian||

    Pictures anywhere?

  • db||

    There wasn't much to photograph. Several vendors didn't bring much in the way of inventory and a few didn't even show. Model 1 Sales wasn't there. There were tons of AR uppers that weren't selling (reasonable prices, even). Lots of mags at premium prices but not sky high. There were a few more M249s than I've seen in the past but there were a lot kore dealer samples than usual. Frequently the dealers have a good number of transferables for sale but this time not so much. There were a bunch of Thompson SMGs but at crazy high prices.

  • db||

    Transferable other than M249s. I think there are only maybe 5 tranny M249s in the U.S. all the others are dealer samples.

  • Virginian||

    God I hate the feds.

    I wants it....I needs it....my precious......

  • ||

    Just got this on teh emailz. Looks like Baucus (D) MT is a NO.

    Thank you for contacting me about our Second Amendment rights. I appreciate you taking the time to contact me about this important issue.

    Recent tragedies have shaken all of us, and everyone wants to do their part to protect our children and communities from violence of all kinds.

    I have heard from thousands of Montanans, and it is very important to me that every Montanan has a chance to weigh in on an open and transparent debate. But, I do not support the bill that is currently being debated in the Senate, S.649. This bill does not do enough to protect the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners to keep and bear arms.... (emphasis mine)

  • ||

    Okay, Lets try that with the formatting I intended:

    Just got this on teh emailz. Looks like Baucus (D) MT is a NO.

    Thank you for contacting me about our Second Amendment rights. I appreciate you taking the time to contact me about this important issue.

    Recent tragedies have shaken all of us, and everyone wants to do their part to protect our children and communities from violence of all kinds.

    I have heard from thousands of Montanans, and it is very important to me that every Montanan has a chance to weigh in on an open and transparent debate. But, I do not support the bill that is currently being debated in the Senate, S.649. This bill does not do enough to protect the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners to keep and bear arms....

    (emphasis mine)

  • Drake||

    "...it is very important to me that..." I win reelection.

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