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US Senate Gun Control Compromise “Framework”

Over the weekend, a special committee of 20 US Senators reached a compromise “framework” on gun control legislation. The committee has 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans. Last week, we summarized our thoughts on the gun control legislation put forth by the US House. The legislation from the House and the US Senate Gun Control “Compromise” are very, very different. Here, we’re walking you through the major points of the Senate’s gun control compromise. This framework is not yet written into legislation.

As Politico and CNN have equally stated, this compromise is “just a framework.” The text of any legislation is yet to be written and could be very different. From that, what I personally (e.g., MY opinion) gather is that this is election year grandstanding. It’ll take weeks to “hammer out” the actual text. Then, sometime in late September or early October, one side or the other will toss the other side under the bus. They will scream loudly something like “We compromised on every issue, but the (GOP/DEM) refused to budge! It’s their fault we can’t have gun control” blah blah blah. Call me a cynic, but I’ve seen it too many times.

Below are the high points of the “framework.” I took the text of each of these points from the Politico and CNN articles.

Support for State Crisis Intervention Orders

Provides resources to states and tribes to create and administer laws that help ensure deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals whom a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others, consistent with state and federal due process and constitutional protections.

This language is code for “red flag laws”. I did read somewhere (sorry, can’t find it again) that a court would have to determine if an individual was of such mental state that they should not have a firearm. That could make sense. It could make more sense than an anonymous tip leading to someone’s 2nd Amendment rights being revoked, guilty until proven innocent.

Investment in Children and Family Mental Health Services

National expansion of community behavioral health center model; major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs; and other support services available in the community, including crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.

I am 100% in favor of just about anything that will help address the mental health pandemic we are currently experiencing. Make no doubt about it: two years of being locked at home with fear, working from home with near zero social contact, along with almost an entire year of political upheaval, riots, etc., has caused a LOT of mental health issues. Anyone with any mental health issues should not have a gun, period. That said, I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist, and a tip from me over the phone should not be grounds for the government to invade someone’s home and confiscate their firearms. Someone’s mental capacity needs to be proven first.

That’s the issue with red flag laws. They call for “guilty until proven innocent” with no due process, and that goes completely against the Constitution.

Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

Convicted domestic violence abusers and individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders are included in NICS, including those who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.

I think this means that “Convicted domestic violence abusers and individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders will be included in NICS” (National Instant Criminal Background Check System). If so, I agree. That’s the purpose of NICS: a background check that serves to determine whether or not an individual is eligible to purchase a firearm. If you’re convicted of abusing your wife or girlfriend, no, you should not be allowed to buy a firearm.

Funding for School-Based Mental Health and Supportive Services

Invests in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including: early identification and intervention programs and school based mental health and wrap-around services.

This one sounds good, and if it actually does what it says, it’s a good idea. The student to counselor ratio in the average public high school is 500:1. Yes, FIVER HUNDRED TO ONE. If this “funding” changes that to 400:1, it won’t help. Considering the fact that our governments have forced our students to stare at a screen alone for the last 2 years, that ratio needs to be about 10:1, and that will never happen. This wreaks of “throw money at it”, but there’s rarely any accountability for such “funding”.

Funding for School Safety Resources

Invests in programs to help institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, support school violence prevention efforts and provide training to school personnel and students.

Same here. The actual legislative text will be more specific, I’m sure, but if they are serious, it’ll say “At least three armed, trained, experienced guards at every school anytime there are students at the school.

Clarification of Definition of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer

Cracks down on criminals who illegally evade licensing requirements.

This one came up on our monthly FFL webinar this morning. I asked “Isn’t the definition of a Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer ‘someone who has earned and holds a valid Federal Firearms License???'” Our attorneys laughed, and said “you would think that would be clear”, but this is government, so nothing is clear. So, I call BS on this one, and one other to follow. This one’s a clear example that the people in charge of regulation have literally no idea what they are regulating.

Telehealth Investments

Invests in programs that increase access to mental and behavioral health services for youth and families in crisis via telehealth.

All the mental health initiatives could/should be lumped in together. I appreciate the specificity of pulling this one out, though. Psychological or psychiatric therapy is very expensive, but doing it remotely makes it much less expensive. Something tells me government should be working to get out of the way of such an improvement rather than throwing more taxpayer dollars at it.

Under 21 Enhanced Review Process

For buyers under 21 years of age, requires an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement.

Phrases like “Enhanced Review Process” and “investigative period” set off my spidey senses. Here’s what I hear when I read the above words:

“anyone who is under 21 will automatically be “delayed” when they try to buy a firearm.”

I’ve read in a couple of different sources that the government might make juvenile court records subject to the NICS background checks. Not sure if that’s Constitutional or not. Perhaps they should make social media part of the NICS checks?!? That would cause a dramatic uptick in the number of “denials” for more than just people under 21, including politicians, so that might not work so well. But, Twitter and Facebook can slap a “misinformation” or “fact checked” label on your post in a second. Why couldn’t they tag posts for NICS? Just an idea.

Penalties for Straw Purchasing

Cracks down on criminals who illegally straw purchase and traffic guns.

So straw purchases are already illegal. Not sure why Congress feels the need to make them double secret probation illegal, but again, this is Congress. They don’t know jack about guns, so they’re going to do stupid stuff to try and regulate guns.

Conclusions from the Senate Gun Control Compromise

“Shall not be infringed” rings loud and clear in my mind. While none of these “framework” pieces directly infringe on the 2nd Amendment, the text isn’t written yet. The most concerning of all of these are (1) the generic “funding” for all the mental health help, and (2) the red flag laws. If abused enough, red flag laws could easily be connected with mental health databases to make it really easy for just about anyone to red flag any individual, without due process.

Other than that, this is just grandstanding. My guess is that the House and Senate will squish the House legislation into the Senate “framework” and ram it through. The 10 GOP Senators on board means it would pass the filibuster, and can go to a vote. I could be wrong. Hope I am, but we’ve seen nastier stuff passed more easily.

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