Big city mayors from across the country are again calling on Uncle Sam to address a problem they are unwilling to tackle – in this case, violent crime in cities under their control. This week, some six dozen mayors belonging to the United States Conference of Mayors sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Senate Minority Leader McConnell, demanding that the “lame duck” session of the Senate pass two pieces of extreme gun control legislation that were adopted by the House in early 2021.
The mayors, of course, do not refer to the bills – H.R. 1808 and H.R. 8 – as “gun control” legislation; that would be too honest. For them, the measures, which would dramatically restrict the type of firearms that can be lawfully owned and sold, are “gun safety” measures. In these mayors’ pinched view of the Second Amendment, such limitations do “not in any way infringe on Second Amendment rights”; in much the same way that to others, restricting what books one might read would “not in any way infringe on First Amendment rights.”
Such hypocrisy aside, the two “gun safety” bills which passed the House almost completely along party lines, have nothing whatsoever to do with the “safety” of firearms, and everything to do with outlawing certain firearms and firearms accessories. The legislation also mandates that virtually every transfer of a firearm, including between private individuals, be run through the FBI database known as the National Instant Check System or “NICS.”
Both H.R. 8 and H.R. 1808 are purposefully convoluted, drafted in such way so as to confuse all but the most expert firearms lawyers and Federal Firearms Licensees. In essence, H.R. 8 purports to plug the so-called “gun show loophole” over which Democrats have obsessed for decades, while H.R. 1808 resurrects the 1994 “Clinton gun ban” (which sun-setted a decade later without resulting in any measurable benefit for preventing gun violence).
Among the mayors who signed the missive to Sens. Schumer and McConnell are the usual suspects – big city Democrat mayors who preside over serious violent crime sprees in their jurisdictions. Included among the signees are the chief executives of such crime-ridden cities as Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, Louisville, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Portland (Oregon) — all are big cities with extremely high incidents of gun deaths.
It is, of course, far easier to clamor for federal gun control (whatever you call it) and demand congressional action, than it is to take measures such as tougher policing and prosecutions that are among the responsibilities of big-city mayors. Hence the calls for the Senate to act.
Calling on Congress to pass gun control legislation is becoming a tired refrain from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. This week’s letter to Schumer and McConnell, for example, mirrors ones sent back in 2019. The difference this time around, of course, is the fact that both houses of Congress are in lame duck session. It is during such times that legislation which otherwise would stand little chance of passage can be pushed through.
Still, with this lame duck session facing an already crowded calendar of “must pass” spending measures and highly controversial measures such as a national pro-abortion bill, mustering the votes necessary to overcome the 60-vote filibuster majority for another extremely controversial measure as gun control, will likely be more than the Senate leadership is willing to take on.
Complicating the scenario, however, is the fact that when the 118th Congress convenes in early January, it will be with a Republican House majority that will almost certainly not pass gun control measures such as were adopted by the House in 2021 and which now await Senate action. This increases the pressure on Schumer to twist as many arms as possible, including moderate GOP members, and make deals he might not otherwise entertain, in an effort to ram through some form of gun control that could then be sent back to the House before it, too, adjourns sine die later this month.
The bottom line in this politically charged environment is that while major, high profile gun control legislation is unlikely to pass the Senate during this lame duck session, Second Amendment supporters had best watch out for “smaller” anti-gun measures to sneak through before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.