Another terrifying incident at the hands of a gunman, another victim and another unwanted headline.
Curbing mass shootings in America has become a significant goal for Congress, particularly since the tragedy that befell Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012. Since that fateful day, several liberal legislators have introduced gun control legislation that, while often introduced out of compassion, unnecessarily burdens Americans who own firearms. Does New York’s SAFE Act ring a bell?
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), however, is now taking a different approach in the effort to combat gun violence. On Wednesday, he unveiled his Mental Health and Safe Communities Act, which would have the following impact on gun purchases:
But the bill would clarify the types of mental health records required to be forwarded to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System -- an issue raised in the recent shooting in Lafayette, La. -- and encourage states to send more information to the database by creating a stick-and-carrot compliance system. It would also encourage "best practices" for responding to mental health crises, including the use of specially trained response teams by federal and local law enforcement agencies.
States that comply with the program will receive up to 5 percent more government grants, while states that don’t send adequate amounts of data will be penalized.
The Washington Post argues that, while Cornyn’s legislation would address the mental health issue, it stops short of helping prevent another Charleston because it does not expand background checks. However, as Matt pointed out in June, this policy, along with other anti-gun proposals from President Obama, would have done nothing to stop Dylann Roof from unleashing fire in Mother Emanuel Church.
Cornyn, who has an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association, has already earned the organization’s support.
Jennifer Baker, spokeswoman for NRA legislative affairs, said the bill took “meaningful steps toward fixing the system and making our communities safer.”
Cornyn’s bill is being viewed as a less strict version of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) offering on Monday.
The parties may not agree on the specifics when it comes to curtailing mass shootings, but at least some degree of bipartisanship overlap seems to be surfacing in the effort to prevent this senseless violence.