Trump Shows Interest in (and Possible Support for) Bi-Partisan Background Check Bill

Texas Republican John Cornyn (above) is working with Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy on a plan to strengthen background checks on gun purchases, a plan that has piqued the interest of President Donald Trump. 

Since November, John Cornyn (R-Tx.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) have been working on a bill that is supposed to strengthen the background check system for gun purchases in the United States.

With the recent Parkland school shooting, talks of gun control and background checks are at an all-time high (again), putting the bi-partisan bill back in the spotlight – enough of a spotlight that President Donald Trump is showing some interest.

Here’s a bit on the Washington Post’s November write-up of the bi-partisan plan:

Their bill is narrow in its focus, reiterating and reinforcing the requirement that federal agencies report all infractions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), and creating financial incentives for states to do so as well.

The deficiencies of the NICS database have come into sharp focus since it was revealed that a 2014 domestic violence conviction should have prevented the shooter in this month’s fatal attack on a church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., from buying a firearm. But the Air Force never reported the conviction to the background-check system.

The problem isn’t confined to the military: The NICS database is missing millions of such records, according to an estimate by the National Rifle Association, citing a 2013 report from the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics that found “at least 25% of felony convictions . . . are not available.”

“What our bill does is it attempts to fix that both at the federal level and provide additional incentives to the local states,” Cornyn said Wednesday. “It may be as simple as just getting them to do what they’re already required to do.”

That’s not the worst idea we could have, and truth be told, it is a damn sight better than doing nothing and letting political stagnation and worthless talking points dominate a few news cycles.

As I said on Saturday, it’s clear that more guns simply aren’t a good answer. There is no single issue that will “solve” gun violence, but perhaps stricter enforcement of the reporting system is a step in the right direction.

That’s not to say necessarily that “fewer guns” is a viable, long-term solution, but it can’t hurt.

It’s also good to see that a bi-partisan bill could see the light of day and not be a total capitulation on the part of Republicans (as they are wont to be). That Trump is taking an interest means that this plan will likely get broader Republican support.

The only thing that could kill this plan is, of course, Democrats over-playing their hand and demanding more gun control from the bill, alienating Republican lawmakers and killing it right there. A total lack of vision for incremental victory has been the bane of the general lawmaking process for at least a decade.

It would be nice if we could learn that lesson, too.