A Glimmer of Hope for Passing Gun Legislation: A Quiet Breakfast Deal

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Image by Brett Hondow from Pixabay

In the aftermath of the Texas shootings, Democrats are busy imploring Republicans to finally do something about gun violence. But their rhetoric makes out the GOP as a bunch of spineless murderers enslaved by lobbyists, which is not likely to produce more than the usual exploitations of political advantage by both sides digging in deeper.

But what if Joe Biden were to ask Mitch McConnell to come over for a breakfast chat to explore actually moving forward? Biden could start by asking what does the GOP favor? Maybe some fresh ideas from other countries? Democrats want to get votes for universal background checks, or the renewal of the ban on assault-style weapons — enacted once in 1994 and easily evaded by the arms manufacturers — or a ban on “ghost guns. So is there a watered-down, first-steps part of one of those goals that McConnell would agree to? To prevent the usual agree-and-stall-and-demogogy, put a strict expiration date for any such deal.

More seriously, what would the GOP want from their wish list in exchange?

Meanwhile, there does seem to be some movement by Republican Senators, as Axios reports. John Cornyn (from Texas), Susan Collins of Maine, Pat Toomey (PA and retiring), Krysten Sinema, Mitt Romney, Rick Scott (Fla), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (Ohio and also retiring), and Kevin Cramer (N.D.) are all mentioned, and that starts to add up and might pressure the survivalist McConnell. One other factor is the disarray of the NRA, a collapsing organization.

Dream on, you say, since the GOP strategy is to oppose anything the Democrats want and to oppose anything Biden might run on as a success. I don’t know if some back-alley negotiations like this actually go on through proxies, but I suspect both parties prefer to use such wrenching emotional turning points as the Texas killings as a way to score points, rally extremes, and paint the opposing party in lurid colors (taking away the Second Amendment and the Constitution vs. abetting the murder of school children). Nor is there any easy way around the structural impediments to the filibuster, as Ron Brownstein writes.

Lastly, might some Republican or national statesman such as Mitt Romney try to put together the dozen or so missing votes to pass something in the Senate? All very quietly, of course, with no word leaking out if the compromise fizzles. 

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David Brewster, a founding member of Post Alley, has a long career in publishing, having founded Seattle Weekly, Sasquatch Books, and Crosscut.com. His civic ventures have been Town Hall Seattle and FolioSeattle.

7 COMMENTS

    • Sorry for the dumb mistake about Sinema, though she may be a key swing vote in passing such legislation, but not for lifting the filibuster.

  1. In 2013 they were able to muster 55 votes in the Senate for a bipartisan background checks bill co-sponsored by Manchin and Toomey. Never say never, I suppose, but it’s hard for me to imagine that there’d be more votes for something like that now, in this more polarized environment.

  2. A plausible scenario, if Lyndon Johnson were still in the White House, Everett Dirksen were still Senate Republican leader, and if we still had white-shoe Republicans like Clifford Case, John Chafee and Hugh Scott in the Senate.

  3. It’s pathetic that federal legislation cobbled together by many D’s and a few R’s would be perceived as accomplishing anything that would reduce firearm deaths and injuries. Other than politicians being able to claim that they had “done” something.
    State legislation, on the other hand, can be productive. Like Washington’s “red flag” law that allows guns to be removed from individuals deemed to be at risk for injuring themselves or others.

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