Small Ball Gun Legislation Nearing a Vote in the Senate

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

I didn’t get around to blogging about this at the time, but Greg Sargent noted yesterday that there’s a possibility of progress on gun legislation:

Later today, Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, will roll out a compromise proposal — with bipartisan support — on a key piece of Obama’s gun control agenda: The measure designed to crack down on gun trafficking and so-called “straw purchasers.”

Senate aides familiar with the talks tell me that Senator Susan Collins will support the measure today — a real breakthrough in terms of getting Republican support for significant legislative action on guns.

Sure enough, the bill was introduced and the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on it tomorrow.

This is good news, but I think I’d hesitate to call it a real breakthrough, even if it does get broad Republican support. Gun trafficking and straw purchases were all part of the Fast & Furious scandal, the GOP’s pet rock of 2011-12, and my guess is that if Republicans support this legislation, they’ll mainly sell it to their constituents as a response to a scandal that proved the ATF was poorly managed and out of control. It gives conservatives a reason to declare some kind of victory in the longrunning F&F saga, which ended in disappointment for them when multiple investigations suggested it was just a run-of-the-mill cockup, not a Watergate-level coverup from the Obama administration. It also doesn’t really encroach on any of the NRA’s biggest taboos. High-capacity magazines, assault weapon bans, and universal background checks are still light years away from getting any Republican support.

So sure, this is nice. But it’s a one-off, and not a very important one-off. We still have a lot of work ahead before we make any real inroads into the power of the gun lobby.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend