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There Is No Bipartisan Gun ‘Compromise’ In The Works, Just GOP Capitulation

Houston Gun Show
Image CreditM&R Glasgow / Flickr

A compromise entails giving up something to get something, striking a deal. That’s not what’s happening here. This is just surrender.


Democrats and the corporate media like to call it a “compromise” when they get exactly what they want and Republicans get nothing. Just witness the bipartisan talks underway in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas on new gun control legislation.

These talks, which reportedly involve four GOP senators led by Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, are focusing on two new gun control proposals: universal background checks and red flag laws. Whatever one’s opinion about the merits of these policies, it’s a fact that Democrats have long wanted to make it harder for law-abiding Americans to purchase guns and easier for the government to take them away.

Both of these proposals would do just that, while arguably doing almost nothing to prevent the sort of mass shooting we saw last week in Uvalde.  One of the policy ideas, so-called “universal background checks,” isn’t a policy so much as a slogan meant to convey an inchoate desire that bad guys not be allowed to buy guns.

As nearly every gun owner in America knows, almost every gun sold in this country already comes with a background check, which is already required under federal law. As my colleague David Harsanyi noted yesterday, lying on your background check or evading it with a straw purchase are already illegal under federal law.  

The other idea, a national red-flag law, would empower judges and police to confiscate guns from Americans who have not been charged with, nor committed, any crime at all. What’s more, a person judged guilty of pre-crime under a red-flag law cannot appeal the decision until after his or her guns have been confiscated.

Nineteen states already have some version of red-flag law already on the books, some worse than others, and all relatively new. New York has one, but it didn’t stop the Buffalo shooter from obtaining the guns he used to kill 10 people at grocery store last month. (He also passed a federal background check.)

So much for the policies themselves. The point here is not that they are good or bad ideas but that they are the sort of things Democrats have wanted to do for a long time and haven’t been able to because Republicans have blocked them.

Why have Republicans blocked them? Because too many Republican voters understand that the purpose of such laws is to erode the Second Amendment and eventually take guns from law-abiding Americans who pose no risk of danger to anyone. 

But now we have these bipartisan talks underway. Reporting on the talks, The New York Times repeatedly framed them as efforts to strike a “deal” or a “compromise,” noting, for example, how projected GOP gains in the midterms “could inform how willing Republicans will be in the coming days to compromise on gun rights, an issue that has become central to their party.”

But there is in fact no compromise on the table. A compromise is when both parties give up something to get something else. That’s not happening here.

Democrats aren’t talking about how they’re willing to, say, get rid of gun-free zones in schools and colleges that receive federal funding in exchange for Republican support for a national red-flag law. That would be a compromise or a deal, and it would no doubt enrage the base of either party, especially the Democrats’ radical left wing, which is why it’s very unlikely to happen. 

What’s happening here is that some Republicans, including Sens. Cornyn and Lindsay Graham, among others, are mulling over whether and when they will cave to pressure from the media and their Democrat colleagues and simply give them what they want without getting anything in return.

Make no mistake, there is no “deal” in the works here, there is only Republican capitulation. That’s something conservatives, at least, should be well familiar with by now. Republicans in Washington have been capitulating to Democrats and the media for decades, on nearly every conceivable issue.

We should not be surprised that they are doing it again, but we should at least be honest about what’s happening and not pretend that Cornyn and Graham and the others are cooking up some kind of genius compromise on gun control. If they were, that really would be news.