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What Democrats Should Do Right Now

The Democratic senators in the bipartisan group which is supposed to be working on some kind of gun legislation, should say to the Republican senators on it, that they want a bill which has red flag laws AND background checks. They should make this very clear that this is a minimum for a workable bill.

All the Republicans want to do, assuming they want to do anything, is to write a bill which enhances red flag laws ; that if there is some evidence that a gun owner is having mental problems, making threats, his license can be temporarily suspended by a judge, on request of police. It is something, but not nearly enough.

Some would-be mass murderers do not broadcast their intentions. Red flag laws would not stop them. Background checks might prevent many people from being able to purchase a gun, rather than letting them buy as many as they want, and then trying to stop them when they start writing or talking about killing people.

Republicans are mostly doing this, meeting to discuss some kind of gun bill, because even Mitch McConnell, who does not want any gun laws, knows that this is a bad issue for Republicans, and could cost them elections. And there are probably a few Republican senators who do feel that something must be done, and want to try. But the bar is going to be very low.

Of course, it will be argued that any bill is better than none. But while Democrats never want to be like Republicans, for whom everything is about winning whether they have to wreck the economy, vote against stimulus packages, baby formula, environmental regulations, Democrats have to also think strategically, particularly when so much is at stake regarding control of our institutions.

So stand firm on a gun bill which provides for a system of background checks, favored by 88% of Americans. Say that they will not vote for a bill which does not include it. Oh, Republicans will try to claim that it is Democrats who are standing in the way of gun legislation, but certainly they can answer that, and explain how absolutely important background checks are, and that they are not going to leave that for another ten years or more.

The media will try to shame them, but do not let them. Stand firm, tell the people what is at stake. No bill would be disappointing, but a weak bill which does little, and the lets the Republicans off the hook, so that they can go back to shouting about CRT, and grooming kids in school, and inflation every minute until the election, is actually worse than no bill, if you calculate all the impact.

Set the terms, reasonable ones to be sure, favored by an immense majority of the populace. And do not settle for anything less. Stop being manipulated by Republicans, and being grateful to get anything out of them. If they take over, that will be the last they get out of them. This is not playing politics, it is not sacrificing children, that is what Republicans have done ever since they let the ban on the sale of assault weapons lapse in 2005, ten years after the Clinton Administration and Congress enacted it.

Republicans get away with being totally intransigent, and then only relenting the smallest bit, if they sense that a large majority of people are against their position. Democrats “role” is to be grateful for the slightest concession, which of course was only a political ploy for the most part.

We need to win the elections, and we need to have issues to be able to run on, to show the immense differences between the parties. Would it be worth it to give up the gun issue this year, if it saved many lives through strong gun laws? Yes. But not in exchange for a lesser bill, which would then cause every Republican and media person in the country to say, “The Democrats were fully behind this bill, and both parties deserve great credit for working together.”

Make a humane and principled stand, and stick to it. Stand strong, at least demand universal background checks, and promise to pass them if Democrats control the Congress. Let the people decide. Stay firm, and do not give in to Republicans and their dreadful, always plotting, leader McConnell, and then spend the next decades regretting it. We need some strong issues to run on, and gun safety legislation is such an important one. If Republicans remove it through supporting and quickly passing through a strong bill now, fine They can do that. But they won’t, unless the other choice is politically worse for them.