I’m always fascinated how folks in Washington are always saying they need a comprehensive bill for this or for that. Then, when presented with a comprehensive bill, they claim they need to fix that issue not with a massive bill, but in a step by step process. What they’re really saying is give it to me piece by piece so I can kill what my Corporate sponsors don’t like … and I can vote for what they love. Gun violence legislation is the most current example of the comprehensive vs. step-by-step dilemma we all to frequently face.
I recently sent an email to Sen. Harry Reid regarding “comprehensive” gun violence legislation purportedly being considered. My email was in support of not just background checks, but restricting clip sizes as well as the ability to buy assault rifles. Senator Reid’s response back to me is shown below and it appears to be saying two different things about the exact same thing — background checks. It’s supposedly IN the bill, but it’s also apparently still being negotiated. And, IF a compromise can be reached, then he’ll include it. HUH? I’ve highlighted the differences with two different colors of text:
“Thank you for contacting me regarding legislation to prevent gun violence. I appreciate hearing from you.
I took note of your support for Congressional action to combat senseless violence in our schools and communities. In the wake of the tragic shootings that have occurred across our nation, we must do more to safeguard all Americans from such incomprehensible violence. As a former police officer, I understand the importance of protecting our families and communities from gun violence.
On March 21, 2013, I started the process of bringing a bill to reduce gun violence to the Senate floor. The Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 (S.649) includes the provisions on background checks, school safety, and gun trafficking recently approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. I hope negotiations to reach a bipartisan compromise on background checks will continue over the coming weeks, and I am hopeful that they will succeed. If a compromise is reached, I am open to including it in the base bill. I believe that in order to be effective, any bill that passes the Senate must include background checks. (emphasis added as to ambiguity)
The bill I have advanced will serve as the basis for opening debate. Once debate begins, I will ensure that a ban on assault weapons, limits to high-capacity magazines, and mental health provisions receive votes, along with other amendments. In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for all of these provisions to receive votes, and I will ensure that they do.
I have noted your support for the inclusion of these provisions in the Senate’s bill. As the 113th Congress works to prevent and reduce gun violence, please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind. “
Absent from the bill cited in Sen. Reid’s response (S.649) is any mention of assault rifles and clip-size, something that has seriously incensed Sen. Diane Feinstein and others. Also missing (and cut completely from Rep. Ryan’s Path to Poverty budget that passed the House, and that went down in flames in the Senate) was any mention of anything to address mental health issues.
Sen. Reid has clearly stated that he won’t bring anything related to assault weapons and clip sizes to the floor because “HE” doesn’t believe “HE” has enough votes to pass the bill. Personally, I don’t care if “HE” has enough votes one way or the other. WE DESERVE A VOTE! The families who lost their children in Sandy Hook deserve a vote. People in Colorado who lost family members and friends in a theater one night deserve a vote.
Sen. Reid later relented that he would allow them to bring it up as an amendment to a “later bill.” What bill might that be?
I’m not sure about you, but as a voter, I want to know WHO is for and WHO is against this as well as other issues. But Congress makes it a bit of a challenge for us to keep up with what’s taking place, or more importantly NOT taking place. Too many people have a hard time paying attention to bills passed or not passed, or bills proposed as a stand-alone bill and then later incorporated in some other bill or added to another bill as an amendment to some unrelated bill all together. This is a very important issue, and it WILL affect for whom many of us will cast a vote at the polls. Whether the bill is passed or goes down in flames, WE deserve a vote!
Sen. Reid did introduce S649 today (3/21/2013). Text of the bill is not yet available on THOMAS, but hopefully, will be available early next week:
S. 649: Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013
A bill to ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale, and for other purposes.