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04-20-2007, 4:39 PM
Lawmakers, NRA Discuss Background Checks
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, Associated Press Writer

Friday, April 20, 2007

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(04-20) 15:27 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) --

House Democratic leaders are working with the National Rifle Association to bolster existing laws blocking mentally ill people from buying guns.

Lacking support to enact strong new gun measures even after the Virginia Tech shootings, Democrats are instead resurrecting legislation, which has drawn broad bipartisan support and NRA backing, that would improve the national background check system.

The measure, a version of which has passed the House in two previous Congresses but died in the Senate, could come to a House vote as early as next month. It would require states to supply more-thorough records, including for any mental illness-related court action against a would-be gun purchaser.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., a strong NRA ally who has been a leading opponent of most gun control legislation, is negotiating with the group on the background-check bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has tapped Dingell and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y. a leading gun control supporter whose husband was fatally shot by a deranged gunman on the Long Island Railroad to broker a swift compromise measure that could win passage in the House and Senate.

McCarthy said the measure was the best the Democratic-controlled Congress could do even in the wake of the deadly shooting rampage Monday in which a disturbed gunman killed 32 and then himself.

"We're not going to do anything more on guns it's just not going to happen. This is a pro-gun Congress," said McCarthy.

Current law bars people judged by a court to be "mentally incompetent" from purchasing firearms, but the federal background check database is incomplete, with many states far behind in automating their records and sending them to the FBI.

Cho Seung-Hui, the 23-year-old gunman in the recent shootings, should have failed his background checks and been barred access to guns after a Virginia special justice found in 2005 that his mental illness made him a danger to himself, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said this week.

The measure being negotiated would subject states to possible penalties for failing to provide the information, and authorize new federal grants to help them do so.

"If we give the states what they need to enforce these limits, that's a big step," McCarthy said. "A computer is only as good as the information in it."

The measure has drawn bipartisan interest. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, an NRA ally, is among the Republicans considering signing on.

Talks on the measure are extremely sensitive, given how little time has passed since Monday's shootings on the Blacksburg, Va., campus.

The legislation has spawned an unusual alliance between gun rights activists, who want background checks to be faster, and gun control advocates, who want them to be more accurate. Still, the NRA and some of its congressional allies are skittish about appearing to support any gun control measure in the wake of the Virginia Tech rampage.

"We have a potential opportunity to get something done that both sides have agreed (on) for a couple of years," said Peter Hamm, a Brady Campaign spokesman. "There's clearly a level of distrust that's as tall as Mount Everest between the two sides in this debate. We watch each other carefully."

Democratic Rep. Richard Boucher, who represents the southwestern Virginia district where the shootings unfolded, said he would not talk about gun policies until next week at the earliest, out of respect for the families of the victims. Like most lawmakers, Boucher wore a maroon and orange ribbon on his lapel Friday, set aside as a day of remembrance for the Virginia Tech tragedy.

Dingell would not comment on the talks Friday, nor would the NRA.

"This is not the time for political discussions, public policy debates or to advance a political agenda," the group said in a statement.

However, another gun rights group, the Gun Owners of America, is adamantly opposed to the legislation. It said the measure would allow the government to trample privacy rights by compiling reams of personal information and potentially bar mentally stable people from buying guns.

"The thing that most concerns us about this is our friends at the NRA are supporting it, and that could give Democrats cover in the election," said Larry Pratt, a spokesman for the group. "The NRA is making a mistake on this. This is a bill that could pass."

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, a strong gun rights supporter, said he hasn't opposed the background check measure in the past and wouldn't expect to do so now.

Gun measures have been known to spin out of control in the freewheeling Senate where any senator can seek to amend a bill. Any measure there would be looked upon as an opportunity for both gun control advocates eager to enact stronger limits and their foes pushing to weaken existing gun laws.

For Dingell's effort to succeed, Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the Capitol likely would have to agree to hold off on a broader gun debate and focus instead on the background-check measure.

"We need to be very careful that we don't intrude on the right of law-abiding and free citizens," Craig said. "We all search for the political screen of, 'Oh, we've got to do something and pass a law, and therefore the world will be a safer place.' Not necessarily."

04-20-2007, 5:28 PM
If they can write the law in a way that would only block those that have been diagnosed as being mentally ill and a danger to others or themselves, then I would support it. But if it goes so far as to block anybody that has ever been to a psychiatrist from purchasing one, than I don't agree with it. As I know people whom have gone to a psychiatrist for reasons other than being a violence crazed madman.

04-21-2007, 5:07 AM
"We're not going to do anything more on guns it's just not going to happen. This is a pro-gun Congress," said McCarthy.

As most here know I'm sure, McCarthy is one of the most rabid anti-gunners in Congrass, tha author HR1022, the bill that would ban HUNDREDS more guns that the Clinton AWB.

This may be a first - a Democratically-controlled Congress that, in the wake of a tragedy like this, is taking steps to actually address the issue? Not a new ban based on cosmetics. Not new restrictions on the law-abiding. Not steps to repeal the "Instant Check". But something that might actually tweak the check to prevent a re-occurrance? I hope all here notice that this is a paradigm shift.

This tragedy has uncovered an unbelievable hypocrisy in the law - to think that the US has established an Instant Check system because America is so "serious" about gun violence, but then that system fails to check those with mental issues because of their "privacy". Perhaps it shouldn't include criminal records too, out of concern for a criminals privacy? Maybe it can be designed to ONLY CHECK THE BACKGROUNDS OF THE LAW-ABIDING? It's mindboggling how stupid it all is.

And the fact that Congress, THIS Congress, appears focused on the right fix is just as amazing. WE CAN THANK OUR ASSOCIATION, NRA, FOR HAVING BROUGHT CONGRESS TO THIS POINT.

Clearly, while talk show hosts have been trying to boost ratings and the tiny gun groups have been grabbing microphones (trying desperately to use the tragedy for fundraising), NRA has been silently (very silently) working the issue in Congress bringing some common sense to the table. We can thank NRA that, when the GOP failed to uphold it's principles and were rejected by the American people last year, there were enough pro-gun Democrats in the field that gun-rights won't be an automatic victim of their failure. We can thank NRA that Carolyn McCarthy is so depressed and even Harry Reid is cautioning against knee-jerk gun control measures.

And NRA didn't need a single media microphone; haven't granted one interview. They've only expressed their (our) condolences for the victims.

I hope the California lawmakers are paying attention. Because WE are the NRA and we live here too.


04-21-2007, 6:20 AM
Looks to me like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, clearly "tolerance", when it is tolerance for evil, has gone to far. However better background checks are not a "solution"- the solution is demanding that the insanity of gun free fire zones be eliminated. Add that to the pork barrel of free money for cops to buy new computers and I might go for it. A waiting period will added to any such legislation just wait and see.

04-21-2007, 6:33 AM
Oh... I was hoping they'd finally stepped up and issued a (almost too late) press release on the "guns on campus" issue... But I guess the liberals are doing the talking for them?

I hear the sound of silence... It sounds like, "We have no comment at this time."

Additionally; there are better ways to keep our rights than by taking guns away from more people. (how is there confusion here?)

04-21-2007, 6:51 AM
Looks to me like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, clearly "tolerance", when it is tolerance for evil, has gone to far. However better background checks are not a "solution"- the solution is demanding that the insanity of gun free fire zones be eliminated. Add that to the pork barrel of free money for cops to buy new computers and I might go for it. A waiting period will added to any such legislation just wait and see.
I'm sure no expert on federal law, but weren't the "1000 ft." gun-free zones around schools overturned by the courts? I believe the related "gun free" laws affecting VT were state laws - different animal than Congress can address.

Regardless, removing the privacy protections for mental patients directly addresses the reason Cho was able to purchase legally and is not a general attack on law-abiding citizens. That alone is an improvement over the Dems S.O.P. Assuming no "gun-free zone" existed and gun carry was permitted, Cho would still have been able to commit these crimes, albeit with hopefully fewer deaths (there is no guarrentee anyone else would have been armed and even if so, if they would take action). Assuming we can't have everything we want (the essence of politics) I don't see that as a better change in this instance. Denied in a background check, he may still have purchased illegally, but that may have provided a means to nab him for a violation BEFORE rampaging. As a minimum, 1) it would be known that he tried to buy a gun and 2) he would have been denied that opportunity.

If you fail to understand the importance of this and simply complain that a better job can be done with another change (in your opinion), you are missing the big picture IMO.

As far as a national waiting period, that apparently isn't in the legislation. Congress is bad enough, let's not involve ourselves with "fortune telling", "inventing talking points" and "scare tactics" here, ok? Facts usually suffice.