There’s a post over at Think Progress about Missouri GOP Senator Roy Blunt’s assessment of the chances for rational gun control legislation. While conventional wisdom holds that while we won’t see a ban on semi-automatic weapons as long as the GOP holds the House, only idiots and conspiracy nutjobs (same thing maybe?) will hold out against laws that would expand background checks to the point where they might finally be effective. However, Blunt, whose opinion matters since he is part of the Senate GOP leadership, says expanded background checks aren’t likely to happen and adds:
“… I’m not for a law that would mean that two neighbors couldn’t be able to trade shot guns….most of my energy is going on the mental health side.”
Of course, there’s no indication that such trades would be proscribed. In fact, legislation now in process seeks to reassure Republicans on that topic:
However, the sources emphasize they are trying to work through this sticky issue so that Republicans, especially Coburn, are comfortable that it would address privacy concerns of gun owners, and would have clear exemptions for situations where a background check should not be needed. The most common example of that scenario is a grandfather or uncle giving guns they already own to a grandson or nephew.
One can only hope that there will be as much care to insure that the final proposals are not so watered down that they are, as has been the case in much gun control legislation in the past, rendered ineffective. Requiring that such exchanges be reported so that the ownership of guns can be traced is crucial. As one comment to the Think Progress post noted, there is no guarantee that the “neighbor” with whom Blunt’s innocent gun owner trades (or sells) his firearm would be able to pass a background check.
Dicey ground indeed, since this issue trespasses on black-helicopter, tin-foil hat territory – all those loons who live in fear of big gum’ment and the Obama facist, socialist, communist dictatorship are sure that if the powers that be know who has guns they will surely confiscate them just before they send half the country to the concentration camps they have been secretly building. Especially dicey from my point of view since nobody has bothered to explain to me why crazy people should be dictating policy, particularly when their lunacy points us in directions that have the potential to drag us into a violent, armed vigilante environment.
These are, of course, in spite of what he says, probably not the types of questions that really bother Senator Blunt – although it’s equally probable that he’s more than willing to use such fears to his advantage. When you get down to it, though, Blunt’s always been more of a cash on the barrelhead kind of guy. Think Progress agrees that he’s likely moved by more straightforward considerations:
Unfortunately, 40 percent of firearm sales occur at “gun shows, flea markets, private sales, through newspaper advertisements, and online purchasers” without any background reviews. Blunt, who is the second highest recipient of NRA donations in the Senate (his career receipts total more than $51,000), is hoping to keep it that way.
So, you see, Roy’s just trying to do his best to earn his keep.
Addenda: Don’t think I missed Blunt’s use of the NRA’s standard “mental health” red herring. An effective use of background checks is desirable precisely because it would help keep guns out of the hands of those with a violent mental health or criminal background. A violently disturbed person with a gun will do lots more damage than one without, and, equivocate though the various NRA proxies may, there’s no way to deny that fact.
Also, of course, compared to identifying potentially violent, mentally-ill folks who need treatment without violating the individual privacy and other rights of a far wider set of individuals, expanding background checks and creating reliable databases for that purpose is easy-peasy. Which is not to say that expanded treatment options for the mentally ill aren’t good things in themselves as long as folks like Blunt (i.e., Republicans) are willing to allocate adequate funding to make them happen in a sustainable fashion, a situation that strikes me as about as likely as my cat learning to fly.