Democrats cut deal with NRA over guns

In what Congress-watchers call a "stunning breakthrough," the powerful National Rife Association and Senior Democrats on Capitol Hill have cut a deal that will strengthen background checks on those buying firearms.

Called a "marriage of convenience," the deal marks an unusual alliance between traditional enemies in the longtime battle over federal gun control legislation.

Writes Jonathan Weisman of The Washington Post:

Senior Democrats have reached agreement with the National Rifle Association on what could be the first federal gun-control legislation since 1994, a measure to significantly strengthen the national system that checks the backgrounds of gun buyers.

The sensitive talks began in April, days after a mentally ill gunman killed 32 students and teachers at Virginia Tech University. The shooter, Seung Hui Cho, had been judicially ordered to submit to a psychiatric evaluation, which should have disqualified him from buying handguns. But the state of Virginia never forwarded that information to the federal National Instant Check System (NICS), and the massacre exposed a loophole in the 13-year-old background-check program.

Under the agreement, participating states would be given monetary enticements for the first time to keep the federal background database up to date, as well as penalties for failing to comply.

To sign on to the deal, the powerful gun lobby won significant concessions from Democratic negotiators in weeks of painstaking talks. Individuals with minor infractions in their pasts could petition their states to have their names removed from the federal database, and about 83,000 military veterans, put into the system by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2000 for alleged mental health reasons, would have a chance to clean their records. The federal government would be permanently barred from charging gun buyers or sellers a fee for their background checks. In addition, faulty records such as duplicative names or expunged convictions would have to be scrubbed from the database.

"The NRA worked diligently with the concerns of gun owners and law enforcement in mind to make a . . . system that's better for gun owners and better for law enforcement," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), a former NRA board member, who led the talks.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) had been pushing similar legislation for years. But her reputation as a staunch opponent of the gun lobby — she came to Congress to promote gun control after her husband was gunned down in a massacre on the Long Island Rail Road — ruined any chance of a deal with the NRA.

By contrast, this agreement is a marriage of convenience for both sides. Democratic leaders are eager to show that they can respond legislatively to the Virginia Tech rampage, a feat that GOP leaders would not muster after the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado. Meanwhile, the NRA was motivated to show it would not stand in the way of a bill that would not harm law-abiding gun buyers. Even so, it drove a hard bargain to quiet its smaller but more vociferous rival, Gun Owners of America, which has long opposed McCarthy's background-check bill.



    The NRA is a criminal protection racket that was taken over by the gun industry long ago. It is the mythology built around guns that is the real problem. And, no one addresses that. Guns are just plain lousy protection in a society that is saturated with fools who own them. Look at Iraq. The perfect case in point.

    John Hanks, Laramie, Wyoming

  2. alicelillie

    So, the NRA compromised with anti-gun lawmakers.

    Surprise, surprise. The NRA is not really pro-gun. They have supported numerous gun restrictions at the federal and state levels.

    There were at least 20,000 federal gun laws on the books in 2000, per Harry Browne, Libertarian for President in 1996 and 2000. Bush, who NRA supported (even endorsed, I am not sure), said in his acceptance speech at the 2000 GOP convention that he would enforce every one of those laws on the books then. The Convention roared its approval. I made the mistake of trying to eat during that nauseating speech.

    The NRA, the GOP and Bush are all solidly for gun control, let’s face it. Maybe not to the extent of some of these loony-tunes, but they are far into gun-control territory.

    And, let’s face something else: Every one of these laws is unconstitutional. The Second Amendment says what it means and means what it says.

    These people claim to support the Constitution. I think they had better study it again.

    JPFO and Ron Paul, and Libertarian contender Steve Kubby are right. All federal gun laws must go. We’d all be better off.

    Why belabor all the reasons to allow guns; these have almost become cliches, as true as they are. Guns are inanimate objects. We need to control criminals, not objects. The police cannot be everywhere (thank God). Etc.

    The thing is, to own real and personal property is a God-given right. If you buy, make or find something that does not rightfully belong to someone else, it’s yours. A hunk of metal fashioned into a self-defense impliment is no different. If you have to get permission to own that, then they could make you get permission to own anything. And they do. Cars, dogs, even cats have to be registered. What’s next? Knives? Fertilizer? Alcoholic beverages? Cigarettes? Already you have to reach a certain age for Big Brother to permit you to obtain certain things. And I have to grovel to federally-annointed pharmacists to get a product the doctor recommended.

    It is as though government officials were *better* than you are if you cannot unilaterally decide what to go out and buy, or to make, and have to grovel to them for permission. Or, if a parent cannot decide what a child or young adult living at home can have.

    Gun control is actually everything control.

    This isn’t freedom.

    This isn’t a free country.

    I want to live one day in a free country before I die just to see what it’s like, but it does not look very good.

    Alice Lillie

  3. murph

    Gun control people simply don’t get it.

    Gun controls by themselves do not work in the way they are intended, namely to reduce violence and death by guns.

    Guns in the hands of civilians keep the government on edge and for good reason.

    If you like gun control so much, go where it is instituted with a vengence. Bet you are the same people that advocate that if you don’t like our country, go somewhere else.


    Get your facts and conclusions straight before you rant on. You think gun suicide is the only way to go? What next, eliminate duct tape and plastic bags? Get real!

    You forgot in your stats the amount of gun deaths that were prevented by armed civilians. Actually, it is quite extensive. Look it up and see for yourself.

    Where in this world did you get this crap about popular belief? “FACT: Contrary to popular belief, young children do possess the physical strength to fire a gun: 25% of 3-to-4-year-olds, 70% of 5-to-6-year-olds, and 90% of 7-to-8-year-olds can fire most handguns.” I was taught to use a gun at the age of 7, if I remember rightly. So what? You want to talk about stupidity in child gun use, read about the 11 year old using a .50 cal handgun to shoot a 1000 lb. pig. Bones not developed at that age and the recoil on those pistols is ferocious. I really wonder how that gun is affecting his wrists. You want to bitch about stupid parents, start there.

    “Opinion: Go ahead and push the “Right to Own a Gun”. But shut your stupid mouths about it being a “good” thing. We’re a wanton killing nation. War and killing define the bestial us. Welcome to the most “enlightened” nation on earth.” Go back and get your stats right before you offer another opinion without weight. You want to see violent societies, go see Africa. You want real violence, check out Iraq. The sarcasm you offered about “most enlightened nation on earth” is dead on, but not for your reasons.

    I sure would like for you to start pointing to where you think your gun elimination would or has worked. Another thing you should consider, there are statistics that completely refute yours. But then again, I don’t buy your assumptions to begin with.

    Even Steven, right on. I have had 3 armed confrontations in my life so far. Thank god for Ruger.

  4. geyser

    Just what has changed? The way I read it, we just made it easier for certain people to buy a gun. What has the NRA given up? Not a damned thing. What are we debating here. Have a doctor write a note, He’s not crazy anymore, sell him a gun. I’m a Veteran, I use to have bad dreams but, not any more, sell me a gun.
    Oh wait, it’s the Shop Owner that gets it. I’m up to date, give me my money.
    I would really like to know, just what the Democrats think they have done or accomplished? It makes a nice Headline but, the story is mush, bottem line, there will be more guns sold, on the streets and in homes.
    The gun seller will get richer and the NRA will have more members. As for Gun Control, it got weaker. This was a one sided concession.

    Taking One Day at a Time

  5. Stoney13

    Look, you whiny-assed busy-bodies trying to take my guns away, if you hate guns SO much then carry your asses off to a country that doesn’t have any!

    This is AMERICA damn it! We BELIEVE in the right to keep and bear arms, and if that upsets you, then tough shit!

    Your ilk is the reason that millions of Americans are sitting in prison for smoking a green weed that never hurt a soul!

    Thanks to idiots like you my son who is old enough to be drafted and sent off to die for his country, isn’t considered old enough to have a beer with his dad!

    Murph gave some damned good arguments against the type of gun control you haters want. I agree whole-heartedly with them! To me gun control means hitting what you aim at!

    Enough of this Nanny-state bullshit! Your not going to turn this country into your own delusional view of “Sesame Street” where noone stains their precious, pink panties because a dirty-bad-nasty gun shot startled them!

    We like our guns, and you can’t have them!!! Get over it!

    Stoney Browning

  6. Stoney13

    What have you got the ass at? Bad dreams, or Veterans?

    Do you think that if a Veteran has a bad dream then the tri-lettered storm-troopers need to kick down his door, and collect all the guns? What a fucked up mind you’ve got!

    So according to you the people who actually went out and fought for our country have to give up the freedoms they risked their very lives to defend? Are you even looking at what you post here?

    I wonder how it would go down if Freedom of Religion was treated like The Freedom to Keep and Bear Arms? You’ve got the freedom to join, and participate in a religion, it’s just if it’s not the “right” religion, then you have to… Oh, I don’t know…Say…Wear a badge proclaiming yourself to be part of that religion? Or maybe you have to live in a certain place with others practicing that religion. Or register with The State so the cops know where to go when members of your religion get picked for the kicking? Didn’t they try that in this little European country back in the late ’30’s, or early ’40’s?

    Oh that’s wrong, you say!!! Oh that’s UnAmerican you say!!! Well just what the fuck is different from that and the hoops that gun owners have to jump through just to own a gun!

    The threat of armed resistance keeps the politicians, if not honest, then at least mostly harmless. Because We The People can defend ourselves from tyranny, tyranny goes where the fight is not so strong!

    We like it that way! It’s worked well so far!

    Stoney Browning

  7. pondering_it_all

    Is it just my imagination, or is there a huge loophole in their plan: A background check to see if you are mentally disturbed before you can buy a gun, is a good idea. But what about somebody who already owns a gun, and then is diagnosed with a mental problem that would disqualify him or her from buying another? There is no reciprical program to remove guns from the newly crazy, so we still end up with the same problem.

  8. Helen Rainier

    Pondering — There does seem to be a loophole, but this is a step in the right direction. Sometimes progress has to be measured and taken in baby steps.

  9. Sandra Price

    Helen is right is it a good first step. But most crazies and criminals steal their guns anyway. We are always better off being armed ourselves against the crazies and criminals.

  10. murph

    There simply is no way other than an autocratic police state to decrease guns in the hands of people that have no business having one. Even then it is only a matter of decreasing the amount because the means for mayhem is always going to be available to those determined enough to acquire the means. While it is not an absolute statement, the preponderance of gun related crimes are not spur of the moment decisions. Law enforcement is more about catching and punishment than prevention anyway. In the end analysis, protection of the population is up to the individual, not law enforcement. You concerned about the crazies shooting at you? Get a concealed permit and carry a firearm and practice with it. From the statistical evidence I have seen localities with easy concealed carry permits have less violent crime. You will notice that the Australian experiment with gun turn-in and control hasn’t accomplished much at all. Britain has become more violent with strict gun control. In this country, where is the most violent crimes involving a gun located? Where the strictest gun control is enforced. The Brady law has been a disaster and an inconvenience in accomplishing what it was intended to do. Frankly, it appears to me that the government needs to get out of the business of restriction of ownership of almost anything.

    You will notice that the event at Virginia State was not the first time. Previously, armed students stopped much the same kind of thing developing. Shortly after, they outlawed guns on campus and then along came Cho. No means at all to stop him. This society is crazy.

  11. UpChukker

    In 1998 (the most recent year for which this data has been compiled), handguns murdered:

    * 373 people in Germany
    * 151 people in Canada
    * 57 people in Australia
    * 19 people in Japan
    * 54 people in England and Wales, and
    * 11,789 people in the United States

    FACT: Suicide is still the leading cause of firearm death in the U.S., representing 57% of total 2004 gun deaths nationwide. In 2004, the U.S. firearm suicide total was 16,750.

    FACT: While handguns account for only one-third of all firearms owned in the United States, they account for more than two-thirds of all firearm-related deaths each year. A gun in the home is 4 times more likely to be involved in an unintentional shooting, 7 times more likely to be used to commit a criminal assault or homicide, and 11 times more likely to be used to attempt or commit suicide than to be used in self-defense.

    FACT: A gun in the home increases the risk of homicide of a household member by 3 times and the risk of suicide by 5 times compared to homes where no gun is present.

    FACT: Contrary to popular belief, young children do possess the physical strength to fire a gun: 25% of 3-to-4-year-olds, 70% of 5-to-6-year-olds, and 90% of 7-to-8-year-olds can fire most handguns.

    Opinion: Go ahead and push the “Right to Own a Gun”. But shut your stupid mouths about it being a “good” thing. We’re a wanton killing nation. War and killing define the bestial us. Welcome to the most “enlightened” nation on earth.

  12. Even Steven Monton

    If you don’t like the fact Americans have the right to own guns….move to Communist China, Britian, Austrailia, or Canada.

    Another FACT for you……crime does go DOWN in areas where concealment permits are LEGAL. DOWN, not up, DOWN…FACT.
    Therefore, the gun argeument of yours is BOGUS.

    SOCIETY is to blame for the promotion (through film and musicmedia) that violence is acceptable, and the inability of the average American idiot who buys into the glorification of violence as an option also fits into the equation.

    But, people who are against guns don’t get this, a synapse or two not firing correctly to connect the dots.

    Passionate maybe, but correct? Not exactly.

    I have had 3 …count them 3 family members killed by guns.
    ALL innocent, all incidents unprovoked, and ALL at the wrong place at the wrong time at the mercy of an INDIVIDUAL who was a murderer.
    Had THEY (my now deceased family members) had a GUN FOR PROTECTION, whether the murderer used a gun, a knife, a bat, whatever, they would be alive today.

    The gun was the tool, the individual is responsible.
    Banning guns has a direct link to crime going up.
    Guns protect law abiding citizens from criminals.
    There’s your FACTS.

  13. SEAL

    This is just one more something bad happened and we have to look like we are doing something to prevent it from happening again.

    There is no way in hell you can stop anyone from getting their hands on a gun if they are determined to get one. Guns are everywhere in this country. I don’t know any of any statistics but I would bet that at least 25-30% of the guns sales are private two party transactions, therefore unknown to any records unless the seller obeys the law by reporting it. But most of those transactions do not want to known! There is no law you could write to stop that.

    Personally I see nothing wrong with enacting this agreement they have reached. In reality it may prevent another nut case from mudering mayhem by slowing him down long enough that he will lose his initial urge and get over it. But that is all it would do.

    Guns are not the problem – people are the problem. You cannot prevent anyone from killing if they are determined to do it. They will find a way. The only reason so many kill with guns is because they are so easy to get and our society has been indoctrinated with the gun mentality from the beginning. Movies and telivision promote it every day. Good guys with guns fighting bad guys with guns. The ever-present gun is there no matter the story line to “solve” the problem. Let’s see you write a law to stop that and I will get interested. But as long as we continue to promote guns and killing by the media, any laws to try and prevent gun sales are worthless.

    Want a gun? Just let the people you know you are looking and you will probably have one in a week.

  14. Wayne K Dolik

    Maybe the Police on campuses should be disarmed, because they didn’t do a darn thing to stop the carnage. Swat guys are trained to go through windows. Right? 32 people were killed over a two-hour period. Where were the local Police? At coffee break perhaps? How about campus police, where were they? Singing about the gun free zone! Why wasn’t the campus locked down? Why wasn’t the assailant attacked? Instead this assailant fired over 200 hundred rounds causing over 100 wounds, while many victims were shot multiple times. Where were the good guys in all of this?
    I am hearing several reports that there was a Federal Stand Down order. Were hearing it from the locals and EMT’s. Remember the Pet Goat? Remember John Kennedy. There needs to be a thorough investigation into how a world record was broken for murder on a college campus. If the Feds made local law enforcement Stand Down, these facts must be made public, because we just experienced another Katrina. But, this is America and I am sure that those in charge will find a way to sweep the dirty little secrets under the rug.
    What we needed on that day was a few brave men with a bolt cutter, but for some reason help was not coming that fateful day. Aggressive Police know how to break a door down. Had they put pressure on the Perp. lives would have been saved. I would get sick to my stomach to see all this carnage . What was needed here was to untie local law enforcements hands, or, for the locals to tell the Feds to go to hell. Talk about gun laws if you want. This will go down in infamy as no swift response, just like Katrina and 911.
    Bottom line is, your government can’t protect you. Talk about Victim Control all you want.

  15. mojibyrd

    Everyone needs a gun, better run to china-mart and buy yours now as everyone needs a gun