Lawmakers in the Republican-led Congress managed to sneak into the $1.3 trillion omnibus that’s due for passage this week a measure that strengthens background checks on gun buyers.
And what’s worse — what’s the bigger ‘diss to voters and the constitutional process — is that the gun control provision is one and the same as a bill that previously stalled in Congress.
Sens. Chris Murphy and John Cornyn paired for a bipartisan deal in February to bring forth a bill that strengthens the National Instant Criminal Background Check System — a “Fix NICS” bill that would have improved the reporting system by offering financial incentives to federal and state authorities.
“Fix NICS” wasn’t so much a top-down mandate as it was a carrot approach — but in cash-strapped state minds, the difference is very often negligible. As CNN put it: “[T]he bill wouldn’t strengthen background checks but instead hold federal agencies accountable if they fail to upload records to the background check system.”
Critics call it a step toward universal background checks and registration for gun buyers — something favored by the Democrats. And the site www.FixNics.org, tied to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, does state: “NSSF is committed to advocating for all prohibiting records to be submitted to the FBI’s NICS database.”
Regardless, the Cornyn-Murphy measure stalled. It didn’t pass — couldn’t get passed.
Now it’s resurfaced in the omnibus. And while some are trying hard to suggest that the “Fix NICS” isn’t a gun control measure — The Hill, for instance, wrote that the omnibus “is not expected to have any new gun control measures,” even while reporting on the insertion of “Fix NICS” — the fact is: This measure presses for more mandates on gun purchase. And the measure failed while traversing the constitutionally approved legislative route.
So sneaking it into the omnibus smacks of snaky politicking.
Curiously, the sneak comes just in time for the many planned gun violence protests that are set to go forth in key spots around nation, including in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Rand Paul summarized it well in a tweet: “It’s a good thing we have Republican control of Congress or the Democrats might bust the budget caps, fund planned parenthood and Obamacare, and sneak gun control without due process into an Omni … wait, what?”
If Republicans in Congress want to pass gun control, they should do it openly, in full view of the public, standing firm in the face of whatever criticisms may come.
Anything else is just a sneak — a shady, snaky, politically motivated sneak.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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