Thursday, July 07, 2016

How Badly Will Ryan's Latest Pro-NRA Gun Bill Flop?


It wasn't that many years ago that there were enough NRA Democrats in the House-- like John Barrow for example-- to help the Republicans pass all the most heinous gun legislation the NRA was looking for. But between a growing refusal of Democratic base voters to keep reelecting Blue Dogs and other conservative gun-loving congressmen and the slaughter of infants in Newtown, there's been a real change inside the House Democratic conference. Even before Newtown, the NRA's bite was failing to live up to its bark. In 2012 the NRA spent considerable money trying to defeat its enemies and elect lackeys. That worked out very badly for them on election day. Big NRA supporters among House Dems who lost their reelections or were forced to retire, despite NRA financial help, included:
Jason Altmire (Blue Dog/New Dem-PA)- $2,500
Joe Baca (Blue Dog-CA)- $2,500
Dennis Cardoza (Blue Dog-CA)- $2,500
Ben Chandler (Blue Dog-KY)- $4,000
Mark Critz (PA)- $3,500
Kathleen Hochul (New Dem-NY)- $3,000
Tim Holden (Blue Dog-PA)- $4,950
Larry Kissell (Blue Dog-NC)- $3,000
Mike Ross (Blue Dog-AR)- $5,000
Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC)- $4,950
By 2014 another 6 NRA Dems were defeated for reelection and today there are just a tiny handful of Democrats currently in the House who are still bathing in gun lobbyist blood money:
Gene Green (TX)
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
Ben Ray Lujan (Chair, DCCC-NM)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Tim Walz (MN)
And that's not enough to do for Paul Ryan what they regularly did for Hastert and Boehner: give the Republicans the votes they needed to pass the NRA agenda or give the patina of being "bipartisan." And Ryan could have used a few dozen Democrats this week since it looks like his NRA-written gun bill lost so many Republican votes than Ryan and McCarthy now afraid to bring it to the floor. Constitutional sticklers-- mostly from the House Freedom Caucus like Justin Amash (R-MI) and Tom Massie (R-KY)-- claim Ryan's bill is unconstitutional and they have been successfully corralling other Republicans to oppose it.
“If the bill becomes law, it will mark a massive expansion of the government’s ability to restrict gun rights on the basis of precrime-- a crime not yet committed,” Freedom Caucus member Justin Amash (R-Mich.) posted in a lengthy diatribe on his Facebook page. This bill “is the actualization of dystopian fiction.”

Added Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), another Freedom Caucus member: “If it is a suspected terrorist and we have evidence to that extent, then Logic 101 [suggests] that person should either be in jail or out of the country.”

Other conservative lawmakers opposed to the GOP gun bill included Reps. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) and Raul Labrador (R-Idaho).

  Huelskamp lamented that the only reason Ryan planned to bring up the NRA-backed bill was because he had felt pressure following Democrats’s daylong sit-in on the House floor demanding a vote on gun control legislation.

On Tuesday night, Ryan huddled with Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and John Larson (D-Conn.) to find a compromise on gun legislation. But there were no signs of a breakthrough.

In an official statement yesterday, before the bill was pulled (at least for now), Ryan was sounding kind of defensive: "Last month, as part of our Better Way agenda, we put out 67 recommendations to keep America safe. Last week, Leader McCarthy-- working with our terrorism task force-- proposed common-sense legislation to address the threat to our homeland, including the Zeldin legislation. It’s common sense because it requires our government to prioritize its efforts to counter violent extremism. That includes defining the enemy as radical Islamic terrorism. Believe it or not, we do not do this already. This legislation is also common sense because it takes steps to make sure that guns don’t fall into the hands of terrorists. This is something that we have to get right. Law enforcement has been telling us, over and over, we have to get this right. Because if we get this wrong, we could undermine their own terrorist investigations... [W]e are not going to compromise the Constitution. We are not going to infringe upon anyone’s rights without due process. This is very important. The Constitution is a beautiful document. It is so efficient, you can fit it in your pocket. We are not going to actually pass legislation that infringes upon a person’s constitutional rights. So we have to get this right. We don’t want to infringe upon the 2nd Amendment. We don’t want to infringe upon the 5th Amendment. We don’t want to infringe upon anyone’s basic constitutional rights. We can get this right while honoring the Constitution."

He was soon whining to the media there were members from both sides that want to make changes to the bill. He was most concerned about the pressure he was getting on the right from the Freedom Caucus. But he was also getting pressure from his more centrist members who have Democratic opponents campaigning on ultra-popular proposals to expand background checks, end the ability of civilians to buy military weapons for personal use and keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists. Republicans in swing districts like Pat Meehan (PA-07), Frank Guinta (NH-01), Lamar Smith (TX-21), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Peter King (NY-02) and Fred Upton (MI-06).

Mary Ellen Balchunis, a gun safety advocate and the Democratic candidate running for the seat NRA shill Pat Meehan represents, was very clear she wants to see votes on solving the mass murder crisis that Ryan and Meehan are trying to duck: "No member of Congress should ever try to stop a vote on the vital issues of the day. Having a vote on common sense legislation that will take weapons off the streets is a no-brainer. Vote for it or against it, but I have a vote. This is why we elect people to Congress - to make the tough decisions-- and let the chips fall where they may... With money from the NRA and two A ratings, Congressman Pat Meehan is more concerned about NRA support than protecting the lives of the 7th District."

Similarly, the progressive Democrat running against NRA ally Peter King on the South Shore of Long Island, DuWayne Gregory chief officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, told us that Ryan's inadequate legislation should be " about putting commonsense measures in place to protect all Americans. The NRA is singularly concerned about gun owners, but Congress has the responsibility to protect all Americans and House Speaker, Paul Ryan, should act accordingly."

Up in New Hampshire, Carol Shea-Porter, reminded voters appalled by Republican-enabled shooting murders that "Frank Guinta no doubt wishes he could vote twice on this. 'Yes,' so he could pretend this was a courageous vote that made everyone safe-- mission accomplished, nothing else needed. 'No,' so he could pretend this was a courageous vote that protected our rights and freedom."

There is only one way the gun violence epidemic in the U.S. is ever going to be seriously addressed-- and Paul Ryan isn't part of the solution. Voters firing NRA-shills in Congress is. Although there is still work to be done among Democrats-- defeats for reactionaries like Collin Peterson and Henry Cuellar would make Congress a much better place in many ways-- they have largely gotten rid of the NRA whores inside their congressional party. But among the Republicans, it's going to take voters starting that long-overdue process in November. Replacing Pat Meehan, Peter King and Frank Guinta with, respectively, Mary Ellen Balchunis, DuWayne Gregory and Carol Shea-Porter would be excellent places to begin. Please help them-- and America-- by tapping on the thermometer:
Goal Thermometer

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At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The real American religion requires killing for private profit, a sacrifice we are all expected to submit to at all levels of our society. Therefore, there will never be any meaningful gun regulation.

At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Dallas shootings will only strengthen the NRA pose that no one is safe without a gun. Sooner or later, the NRA will get what it seeks.


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