“I think we’re about, we’re about run out of our rope here, and we’ve got to make some final decisions today if we’re going to be able to get this on the floor next week,” John Cornyn told Hugh Hewitt this morning, before the day’s negotiations began.
They did not end up making any final decisions. In fact, a “frustrated” Cornyn has skipped town. If Chris Murphy, Kyrsten Sinema, and Thom Tillis need him, they know where to find him.
Is this deal dying?
Leaving the Capitol to catch his flight to Texas, CORNYN says there is no deal yet.
“We’re not ready to release any smoke.”
— Julie Tsirkin (@JulieNBCNews) June 16, 2022
Cornyn: “I’m frustrated. I’m not as optimistic right now. But we’re continuing to work.”
Sinema interjects: “We’re optimistic!”
Cornyn: “Senator Sinema says I’m optimistic.”
— Alan He (@alanhe) June 16, 2022
“At some point you’ve got to make a decision, and when people don’t want to make a decision you can’t accomplish a result,” Cornyn told the press afterward. “That’s kind of where we are right now.” They’re in a rush to get something to the Senate floor because, for procedural reasons, the bill needs to move immediately to ensure it can pass before the July 4 recess begins. No one who supports the framework wants to let it linger past the recess, knowing that that’s an opportunity for opponents of the bill to bring grassroots pressure to bear on their senators.
Time is of the essence when you’re looking to pass gun legislation. Proponents tend to lose interest in the topic quickly whereas opponents do not.
I wrote yesterday about the sticking points in the negotiations. One is the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” with the two sides trying to get together on when misdemeanor domestic violence should disqualify someone from gun ownership. The other is whether federal grant money designed to encourage states to set up red-flag laws should also fund alternate forms of deterrence. Cornyn told Hewitt:
Of course, the whole red flag issue has gotten a lot of attention, but there’s a lot of things being done in a number of other states, mental health courts, veterans courts, outpatient assistant treatment for people with mental health challenges to try to help them manage those. There are a lot of things being done across the country that I would like to see share in the money that we are going to be appropriating.
Minimum due-process standards as a condition for accessing the grant money are also being debated:
[O]ne of the things we are going to condition the access to the federal grant funding through the Department of Justice is going to be on the most rigorous due process standard that exists in the law today. They won’t be able to get access to it unless they have that standard in place. But this is a subject I know is of a lot of concern, because people wonder, you know, whether an aggrieved neighbor or ex-girlfriend or somebody could trigger this. One idea would be that it could only be triggered by law enforcement. We’re still grappling with the contours of that, but again, these are state laws that the federal government does not have any control over. And, but we want to make sure that due process is protected to the maximum allowed.
I’m not sure making the cops the linchpin of red-flag orders will sit well with gun-rights advocates. It’s one thing for a loved one to petition a court to block your access to guns, as presumably they have your best interests at heart. The state does not. Allowing the police to legally disarm you because you’re “dangerous” misses the point of the Second Amendment.
But we probably would see more truly dangerous people disarmed that way than if we let loved ones do it. (And more not-so-dangerous people as well.) Some friends and family simply won’t be able to bring themselves to initiate a legal proceeding against a relative, no matter how off-kilter he is.
Time’s running out and there’s still no deal on the key provisions. Is the committee getting ready to … drop the disputed sections?
Next week is the group’s deadline to PASS the gun package on the floor. But to do that, they might have to lose items they can’t agree on… like closing the boyfriend loophole.
Murphy tells me he doesn’t “want” to do that, but Cornyn acknowledged it’s a possibility.
— Julie Tsirkin (@JulieNBCNews) June 16, 2022
There won’t be much left of the bill if the red-flag grants and closing of the “boyfriend loophole” end up in the trash. The expanded background checks to include juvenile records will be the last major part standing, along with mental-health funding.
At difficult moments like this, sometimes it’s helpful to seek guidance from wise elder statesmen. How about this guy, speaking in 2018?
President Trump said Wednesday he favors taking guns away from people who might commit violence before going through legal due process in the courts, one of many startling comments he made in a rambling White House meeting designed to hash out school safety legislation with a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
“I like taking guns away early,” Trump said. “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”
Trump also said some of his fellow Republicans were “petrified” of the NRA, called on lawmakers to produce a “comprehensive” gun bill, and squelched prospects for a GOP-backed concealed carry proposal as part of a broader gun package.
Bold ideas. Food for thought for Cornyn this weekend! I’ll leave you with this blast from the past on red-flag laws.
— andy™ (@andylevy) June 15, 2022