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New York Times on the Gun Control Battle in Congress

Link here. It’s a very in-depth article, and there are a lot of potential takeaways, including how remarkably dumb our opponents were. But I would note I’m rather skeptical of the sources of some items in this report, as I suspect they are mostly Joe Manchin’s office, and other people who have a vested interest in discrediting NRA. Generally speaking, NRA won’t speak to investigative reporters, so if there’s a source for, say:

In their conversations, Cox told LaPierre that he did not yet have a clear sense of how their congressional allies were reacting to the Newtown shootings. Cox’s instinct was that the N.R.A. should stay quiet for the time being, as it had done following past shootings. Instead LaPierre decided to respond forcefully, without consulting the N.R.A.’s lobbyists or its full 76-member executive board. One week after the shootings, he stood behind a lectern at the Willard InterContinental hotel a few blocks from the White House and broke into a blistering attack on the news media, the movie industry and video-game manufacturers while defiantly declaring, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

It would be interesting to know who’s talking to the enemy (The NYT is the enemy). I suspect a leak from a member of the Board. A lot of people are upset that the report states they were working with Manchin’s office. I would note the source for this is likely Joe Manchin’s office, who aren’t exactly enamored with NRA these days.

But I’ll accept that it’s true, for the sake of argument. Even if it’s true that they were negotiating over the bill, I would kind of expect NRA to be sure, if there aren’t votes to stop it, that what passes is less of a disaster for gun owners. Note this from the article:

The N.R.A. declared war on those who helped pass the 1994 assault-weapons ban, most of whom were Democrats, but while the bill was being crafted, the N.R.A. worked with two of its House Democratic allies, John Dingell and Jack Brooks of Texas, to weaken it so that if it did pass, it would apply to only a limited number of firearms and would expire a decade later. (It did not pass again.)

As it was this time, we had the votes to kill the Manchin-Toomey deal outright, so it was done. Did GOA have anything to do with that? I’m sure they believe they did, and I’m also sure they likely told that to the author of this article. But does anyone seriously want to argue that we’d have been better off if Dingell and Brooks hadn’t negotiated to get important element like the sunset provision? Does anyone feel confident after failing to outright repeal the bill in 1996, we’d have had any luck now?

Too many people think politics is all binary choices. It’s not that kind of game. If you can buy yourself a little insurance, in case the vote goes badly for you, you do it. If we hadn’t done that in 1994, we’d all still be living under the federal assault weapons ban, and that ban would have looked more like California’s than what eventually passed.

15 Responses to “New York Times on the Gun Control Battle in Congress”

  1. Patrick H says:

    Really good points- especially “working with the enemy” on a bill that will pass.

  2. Jay F says:

    No mention of the “gun industry” as being responsible for killing the bill or running the NRA? Most anti-gunowner activists try to make that claim lately, but there must be some Times reporters who try to report things that are true.

    • Sebastian says:

      I think this was a genuine attempt to say what happened, rather than being a hit piece.

      • Jeff says:

        Agreed. Other than repeating without question the “X% of Americans support background checks” and “households with a gun down Y%” and the general ‘this is why we can’t have nice things’ tone, the piece seemed pretty solid to me.

  3. Countertop says:

    You know, I never even bothered to check on the author. Robert Draper. Here’s his wikipedia page. He’s from Texas,and wrote a book on George W. Bush. WHich included lots of sit down one on one interviews with Bush. Could very well be that he was able to get inside the NRA. Or at least some feedback because he sold himself as something other than a NY Times investigative reporter.

  4. Andy B. says:

    “. . .the report states they were working with Manchin’s office. I would note the source for this is likely Joe Manchin’s office. . .”

    It could be true. Some years ago I was tearing RINO Jim Greenwood (R – 8 PA) a new one in the media over gun issues, at the same time he was badmouthing the NRA to high-heaven, and the NRA called me up and told me to lay off him, because now “they were talking to him.” I didn’t, but the public pissing contest petered out on its own. Anyway, just because someone is a so far unrepentant enemy, doesn’t mean the NRA won’t work with them. I can’t comment on the effect on that of party membership, from any personal experiences.

  5. Richard says:

    The elephant in the room re universal background checks is that it covers all transfers, not just purchases. You would never know this from reading the MSM but there it is. So if you loan your gun to a buddy for a hunting trip, you are a felon if you didn’t jump through the hoops.

    And I wish no one would link articles behind paywalls.

  6. Kevin P. says:

    I read the article, and my response was “meh”.

    The author starts with the basic premises: guns: bad. NRA: bad and it goes downhill from there.

    He comforts himself in the end with some wistful thinking about how the NRA will get old and die out.

    • Jim Jones says:

      Not after Newtown it won’t. Genius on their part to offer a discount on Life Memberships during that time.

  7. AnOregonian says:

    In terms of buying insurance it seems like the NRA needs take something like Coburn’s publicly accessible NICs system, finish fleshing it out, and polish it a bit.

    • Jim Jones says:

      That would actually be a proactive measure, but we are not negotiating with people who do so in good faith. Their ultimate goal is disarmament and the destruction of the American gun culture. They’ll take death by 1000 cuts if that’s all they can get (i.e. ban all future transfers. We won’t take your rifle, but you can’t pass it on). By outright refusing the Colburn proposal, our opponents showed their true colors. They do not care about one lick the transfers, they just want to make gun ownership into a landmine of potential legal problem.

      • AnOregonian says:

        They definitely showed their true colors, but only we understood it. The rest of the indifferent public saw/understood nothing.

        So how about instead letting our opposition define the argument in terms of epic infringement (schumer’s bill) versus a major infringement (Manchin-Toomey), we can offer something of equal efficacy but rates so low on the infringement scale (Coburn) no one will really complain.

        Another upside to Coburn is that it makes the next step, registration, much harder. Where as either Schumer or Manchin-Toomey are equally good for that next demand they’ll make.

  8. SDN says:

    Freeedom vs slavery is always a binary choice.

    And if you still believe that isn’t the exact choice, I hope you and yours survive the education process.

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