In what might be music to the ears of those who support tougher gun laws, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced on Thursday that universal background checks will be included as part of the baseline gun control bill that the Senate will debate next month.
“Later tonight, I will start the process of bringing a bill to reduce gun violence to the Senate floor,” Reid said in a statement. “This bill will include the provisions on background checks, school safety and gun trafficking reported by the Judiciary Committee.”
“I hope negotiations will continue over the upcoming break to reach a bipartisan compromise on background checks, and I am hopeful that they will succeed,” Reid continued, referencing the ongoing feud between Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) over a negotiating point of the UBC provision, i.e. the call for strict record keeping and a national registry of law-abiding gun owners.
“If a compromise is reached, I am open to including it in the base bill,” said Reid, adding “But I want to be clear: in order to be effective, any bill that passes the Senate must include background checks.”
This announcement comes just days after Reid irked many gun control advocates by saying he would omit Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s ban on military style ‘assault’ weapons from the baseline bill, and would instead relegate the AWB to an amendatory vote.
Now, though, gun control advocates have to be pleased to know that the UBC bill, the bread and butter of their effort to reform the nation’s gun laws, will anchor the Senate bill.
“The bill I advance tonight will serve as the basis for opening debate. Once debate begins, I will ensure that a ban on assault weapons, limits to high-capacity magazines, and mental health provisions receive votes, along with other amendments,” said Reid. “In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for all of these provisions to receive votes, and I will ensure that they do.”
Some have argued that the AWB was a loss leader of sorts. That, gun control advocates had a shoot-for-the-stars-to-land-on-the-moon-type mentality with respect to the AWB (stars) and the UBC bill (moon). That, the real objective was to enact a UBC bill all along.
To explicate, Alex Koppelman of the New Yorker wrote this in a blogpost:
Those gun-control supporters who tend toward the glass-half-full side of things can reasonably view this as Feinstein et. al realizing that the real goal of the post-Newtown anti-gun push was a law making background checks universal—that the ban was just a sacrifice offered up to ease that law’s path through Congress—and letting any Democrats nervous about the backlash against a pro-ban vote off the hook.
Mark Glaze, the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, provided further proof that this theory – to some extent – holds water. In an interview with TheHill.com, Glaze affirmed the importance of the UBC measure.
“The background-check legislation has always been the biggest policy fix. It has the best politics attached to it and it’s our biggest priority,” said Glaze, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s right-hand man.
“We’re going to spend the recess period and the months after with several dozen field staff in key states holding events, doing petition drives, making sure senators are hearing every day from chiefs of police, mayors and survivors of gun violence that it’s time to act,” he said.
As with everything, but especially legislation, the devil is in the details. Once the UBC bill is finalized, gun owners should have a better idea of what we’re up against.
While it’s too early to make any calls, a betting man might wager that a UBC bill that creates a national gun registry will not make it out of the Senate. However, that same betting man might wager that a UBC bill that doesn’t call for strict record keeping or a national registry will clear the Senate and make it’s way to the House.