Anti-Gunners Lionize McCarthy As HR-2640 Awaits Senate Action
July 1, 2007
by Joseph P. Tartaro
Many in the firearms community are confused by House passageon an anonymous voice voteof HR-2640 on June 13, as reported in Dave Workman’s article beginning on Page 1 of this issue.
HR-2640 is the compromise measure that revises HR-297 which was originally filed on Jan. 5, 2007 three months before the Virginia Tech shootings. HR-297 was sponsored by Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and John Dingell (D-MI). It gained three co-sponsors before the Virginia incidentReps. Michael Castle (D-DE); Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Janice Schakowski (D-IL)and another 14 after Apr. 16.
Actually, McCarthy first sponsored the bill in 2002 after a priest and a parishioner at Our Lady of Peace Church in Lynbrook, NY, were killed by a man who had a record of mental health problems but was allowed to purchase a gun.
That bill was passed by the House, but did not get a Senate vote. McCarthy has brought the bill back every year since.
On June 8, it was announced that a compromise had been reached between the National Rifle Association (NRA) on one side and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and its allies on the other. The media hailed the compromise.
‘First Big Compromise’
“Gun control bill marks first big compromise in 110th Congress,” was the headline for the Fox News report on June 13. And most of the news media were quick to note the possibility of compromise on The Hill while continuing to call HR-2640 a “gun control” measure.
The compromise bill was introduced promptly to the House as a substitute for HR-297 on June 11 and the new language was passed two days later by a voice vote after a motion to suspend the rules was approved “without objection.”
On June 14, HR-2640 was sent to the Senate and assigned to the Judiciary Committee. Most early observers expected quick action there, but now some sources say Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would like that committee to deliberate over it. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), a member of the committee, has told the media that he would offer his own version of the bill but promised swift action.
And therein lays the rub. No one is usually entirely happy with a compromise. Not all gunowners are happy with this one. And the anti-gunners say it doesn’t go far enough. They didn’t want to give anyone relief of disability. From their point of view, once you have deprived a segment of the population the right to acquire and keep any gun, you don’t want to back downno matter how unfair anyone claims it is.
On the other hand, the NRA claimed that it supported all along the idea of preventing dangerous mentally ill people from acquiring firearms in lawful commerce. The NRA believes HR-2640 is “not a gun control” bill. They claim it will not prevent anyone from acquiring a firearm who is not already prevented by existing federal laws.
The bill will also allow up to 109,000 armed services veterans, placed into the system by the Veterans Administration for mental health reasons diagnosed by a physician but not adjudicated by law, a chance to remove their names.
The federal government would also be barred from charging gun buyers or sellers for background checks.
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, has made it clear that the association will support HR-2640 exactly as it is currently worded, but that if any changes are made in the Senateor in any conference committeethe NRA will oppose passage.
“There is broad consensus across the ideological spectrum for improving the NICS system,” noted Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). “This bill will not expand the definition of a prohibited person. It will merely improve the updating of records. As long as no anti-gun amendments are added, given the safeguards in the legislation, NSSF will continue to fully support this bill.”
Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told FOXNews.com that his group is happy the bill passed and has been “very supportive” of the legislation throughout the process. The group is less than enthusiastic about the provisions allowing persons with mental health prohibitions to appeal their status.
Among the many articles written on the House action is a statement in one paragraph of the Wall Street Journal account stating that while Senate Majority Leader Reid approves the bill, committee deliberations could mean trouble.
The Judiciary is not a good committee for gunowners’ rights. The chairman is Patrick Leahy (VT). The ranking member is Arlen Specter (PA). Although the Republicans on the Senate committee are mostly respectful of firearms civil rights, the Democrats include Edward Kennedy, Joseph Biden (DE), Herbert Kohl (WI), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Schumer and Richard Durbin (IL).
The big question is: Would these prominent anti-gunners be willing to let the House-passed bill go as is or include in it some other matters expanding the bill, such as gun shows, waiting periods, or whatever?
Capitol Hill sources report that the Brady Campaign already is pushing for expansion. LaPierre said the NRA is watching for any changes. “If they Christmas Tree it, if they were to turn it into a gun control wish list, we would certainly withdraw our support from the bill,” he told Fox News.
While the compromise balancing act continues, the anti-gunners have a new hero: Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and here is one example of the kind of media treatment she is getting from the rabidly anti-Second Amendment media.
Newsday, a major newspaper on Long Island where McCarthy’s New York district is located, could barely contain its joy over passage of the bill.
“… McCarthy got her son a present yesterday, a day before his 40th birthday (June 14),” Newsday began.
“It was wrapped and delivered by the House in a voice vote that morning, as lawmakers approved what would be the first major federal gun control measure in 13 years. The bill toughens the national background check system for gun buyers, improving screening for criminal records and mental health problems in the wake of April’s shootings at Virginia Tech.
“A longtime gun control advocate, McCarthy was elected to the House in 1996 after her husband Dennis was killed and son Kevin severely wounded by a gunman on the Long Island Rail Road three years earlier,” Newsday continued.
The newspaper reported that McCarthy said that Kevin would celebrate his 40th birthday on June 14, and that she was emotional leading up to the House vote, at one point breaking down in tears an hour before debate began.
“It’s a promise I made to my son,” she said, according to Newsday. “I think it’s a great birthday present for him.”
Fox News noted that on the same day the House voted President Bush received a report from a panel he appointed to investigate the Virginia Tech shootings. The panel concluded that doctors, schools and police often do not share information about potentially dangerous students because they are confused by complicated and overlapping privacy laws.
“We need to do a much better job educating educators, mental health community and law enforcement that they can, in fact, share information when a person’s safety or a community’s safety is in fact potentially endangered,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, a member of the commission.
The panel laid out several recommendations on how the federal government can work with states and schools to streamline the process of inputting data into gun registries, particularly when it comes to people with criminal records and histories of mental illness.