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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How The NRA Undermined Congress’ Last Push For Gun Control

How The NRA Undermined Congress’ Last Push For Gun Control

by Joaquin Sapien, ProPublica.

Last week, President Obama unveiled sweeping proposals on gun control, including a ban on military-style assault weapons, a reduction of ammunition magazine capacity and stiffer background checks on gun buyers.

National Rifle Association president David Keene quickly accused the Obama administration of being opportunistic. The president is “using our children to pursue an ideological anti-gun agenda,” he said.

The NRA has already begun to lobby on Capitol Hill to counter the administration’s effort.

To get a sense of what the NRA might do, it’s helpful to look at how it scored a victory during the last major federal initiative to tighten gun control.

After a Virginia Tech student killed 32 students and faculty in April 2007, the Bush administration proposed legislation that would require all states to share the names of residents involuntarily committed to mental health facilities. The information would be provided to a Federal Bureau of Investigation database.

The idea, in part, was to help gun dealers get important information about whether potential customers were mentally ill.

In order to get the support of the NRA, Congress agreed to two concessions that had long been on the agenda of gun-rights advocates — concessions that later proved to hamstring the database.

The NRA wanted the government to change the way it deemed someone “mentally defective,” excluding people, for example, who were no longer under any psychiatric supervision or monitoring. The group also pushed for a way for the mentally ill to regain gun rights if they could prove in court that they’d been rehabilitated.

The NRA found allies on both sides of the aisle to champion the concessions.

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) reportedly pushed the provisions, ultimately with the support of the bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), whose husband was killed and her son wounded in a 1993 shooting on the Long Island Railroad.

The NRA agreed to support the bill, in exchange for provisions pushing states to create gun rights restoration programs.

Here’s how it worked. It would cost money for states to share their data: A state agency would have to monitor the courts, collect the names of people who had been institutionalized, and then send that information to the FBI on a regular basis.

So, to help pay for data-sharing, Congress created $375 million in annual federal grants and incentives. But to be eligible for the federal money, the states would have to set up a gun restoration program approved by the Justice Department. No gun rights restoration program, no money to help pay for sharing data.

A spokesman for Dingell’s office did not respond to calls for comment on this story. A McCarthy spokesman, Shams Tarek, said the congresswoman is now working on new legislation to “provide more incentives and stiffen penalties for states to put names in the database.”

“We definitely think there’s a lot of room for improvement,” said Tarek.

The NRA supported Dingell and McCarthy’s version of the bill, but the group won further concessions when the legislation reached the Senate.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) who once joked he’d like to bring a gun with him to the Senate floor, blocked the legislation, citing concerns about privacy and spending.

He negotiated language that, among other things, would allow a person’s application for gun rights restoration to be granted automatically if an agency didn’t respond within 365 days of the application and allowed people to have their attorney’s fees reimbursed if they were forced to go to court to restore their rights.

The final bill was sent to President Bush for his signature in January, 2008.

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • The fact that the NRA manages to convince our politicians to vote against the wishes of a majority of Americans, even when faced with horrific tragedies, is a sad commentary on our society. We have the tools to elect politicians committed to do what is best for our country, instead, we elect ideologues whose only priority is to prostitute themselves by selling their soul to the highest bidder in exchange for contributions to win the next election.
    The NRA managed to dilute Reagan’s gun control reform efforts, they did it again when Bush tried to do the same in 2007, and they will do it again in 2013, not because it is not necessary, but because it affects the interests of the arms industry. We rather sacrifice our citizens, including our children, than impact the arms industry bottom line and our twisted interpretation of the Constitution.

    • jstsyn

      So what else is new? The politicians sell out to all big business and you don’t think that hurts Americans too? Only one instance bothers you?

      • No jstsyn, this is not the only socio-economic issue that bothers me, it just happens to be the topic of discussion.

    • petrakaye

      You state it well, Dominick. It’s so wrong that our politicians, some anyway, can be bought at the expense of what is right. Anyone who can’t enjoy hunting or target shooting without military type weapons is no sportsman in my mind. And anyone who feels they need a magazine of more than 10 bullets to ‘protect’ his/her family has no idea of the full repercussions of using them. Those weapons should be under lock and key, and what invader of your property is going to wait while you unlock them? I’m a woman with a pistol in my bedside table. I don’t wish to kill anyone, so the first shot is birdshot, the second is business.

  • jointerjohn

    We are at a seminal juncture where we must choose whether to control our destiny or surrender it to those who can buy the most TV commercials. If we take our heads out of our asses, turn off the TV and think, we can take back control of our country. If we continue to be the dupes of empty entertainment, big corporate sports and dumb-down amusements we are doomed.

    • Right on, Jointerjohn! Some of that consists of discussing with those we don’t agree with. I have found that demonstrating a willingness to consider another’s view goes a long way towards consensus. It doesn’t mean full agreement will automatically happen, but this crazy sticking point equating reasonable restrictions with denial of 2nd amendment freedoms can generally be worked out.

  • Pamby50

    Unfortunately our legislatures are to beholden to corporate america that they forget about we the people. Even if we the people vote in someone to represent us, the head of the party will brow beat them until they sucumb. Even something so simplistic as a back ground check has become controversial. I fear nothing will change.

    • amarquez647

      Get rid of the head. I am greatly disapointed with Reid. He went back on his promise. It’s time for strong leadership. A man or woman with real cojones. Well, in a woman case, strong ovaries.

  • SaneJane

    The NRA has very neatly shifted the discussion from firearms to the mentally ill. How is it invasive to have a data base of gun owners but not invasive to have a database of those who have received mental health treatment? How is it un-American to require a federal registry of guns but OK to trash the lives of innocent people. In my opinion, all firearms should be registered upon first sale and every sale thereafter recorded so someone is responsible for that gun. If I let my dog run loose and it bites someone, I am liable. If my vehicle causes damage, I am liable. If my gun injures or kills someone, I should bear responsibility if I was negligent in securing my firearm.

  • We should vote Wayne Lapierre as president. Everyone on here complaining about how the NRA is buying out our gevernment officials get over it, at least some Americans still believe in the constitution and fight for it. I dont disagree on stricter background checks or any of that crap but i will not tolerate someone who sits in a office all day trying to take away my firearms, no matter what they look like or what type or rifle they are.