What Congress may do about guns

  • 26 February 2018
  • NormanL
Don't be hasty

As the emotional spasm that engulfed the nation in the wake of the Florida school shooting runs its course, attention turns to what Congress might do, and what the President wants them to do. Via Politico, we get an idea of what may be on the political agenda:

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP is extremely eager for legislative action on guns, and has pushed lawmakers he has spoken to for a vote in the House this week. Of course, this won’t happen -- the House is in session for just one day and things simply do not move that quickly. But lawmakers who have spoken to the president say the urgency with which he would like to proceed is unprecedented in his presidency.

-- HERE IS WHAT IS BEING DISCUSSED: Spending a pile of money on police programs. Funding some sort of volunteer program to protect schools. A new background-check system. The Fix NICS Act -- a bill that would penalize government entities for not reporting information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (this has already passed the House).

-- WHAT IS LESS LIKELY TO HAPPEN: Increasing the minimum age for purchasing some weapons, banning assault weapons.

-- INTERESTING PROPOSAL THAT’S QUIETLY BEING CONSIDERED: Giving cops the ability to confiscate a gun for 21 days if there are reports of domestic abuse, mental health issues or threats. The 21-day period could be renewed twice, under a plan that’s being discussed.

If the White House is pushing Congress to act, then the chances something will happen increase (though not this week). The proposals under discussion aren't exactly the sort that should give gun rights advocates reason to panic. They aren't all that new, and they aren't all that radical. Which is a good thing. A Congress that acts in haste is a Congress that makes terrible decisions, and even worse laws.

We have written about a program we think deserves congressional attention -- the National School Shield program. The increasingly disturbing, and heartbreaking, revelations about security failures at Stoneman High indicate the need for proper training and increased threat assessment and response is very real. Congress shouldn't act in haste on gun legislation -- that would be dangerous. But it should look at all alternatives, including the National School Shield program, as it seeks ways to make our schools safer.