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Tipsheet

Incentives for Red Flag Law Expansion Included in Bipartisan Anti-Gun Talks

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? It’s sort of a cruel question because there is no good news anymore with this administration. It’s all bad. The economy is trash. We’re adrift abroad. The Summit of the Americas was all theater since one of the main trading partners in the region—Mexico—boycotted the event. It was a waste of time. Now, Biden must go crawling to the Saudis to beg for oil and repair a relationship that might not occur under his tenure as White House caretaker. The man is weak, stupid, and slow. We all see it. It’s why everyone from young Americans to Independent voters has given the old man low marks, and that’s with a ton of cover from the liberal media. Trump was more popular than Biden at this point. Still, with all this wind to the GOP’s backs, you can always count on them to find ways, or at least gamble, on things that could sink the ship.

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The climate for Republicans is insanely good for the midterm year. It doesn’t get any better than a president with approvals in the low-30s, a bad economy, and most voters thinking he’s mentally cooked. So, what do congressional Republicans do to increase their odds—they talk with Democrats on how to pass gun control measures. You cannot make this up. what are we doing? I know I’ve said this before, but what the hell are we doing? 

CNN’s Dana Bash and Manu Raju have some more details on these talks. There’s some good news. There is no new ban on modern sporting rifles, nor is there going to be an increase in the age limit to purchase long guns to 21. It’s currently 18 years of age. So, that’s the good part. The bad news is that there’s probably going to be a package that incentivizes the expansion of red flag laws (via CNN):

The sources underscore that the agreement is in principle only and that thorny legislative text is not yet written.

Still, the agreement would be significant given how divided lawmakers have been over the gun issue, even in the wake of a series of devastating mass shootings, including one that killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

One source with knowledge of the discussions said negotiators are hoping to get 10 Republican senators to sign on to the agreement before it is announced, in order to show they can overcome the 60-vote filibuster threshold. The Senate is currently evenly divided between the Democratic and GOP conferences with 50 seats each.

Sources involved in the talks said the agreement outline includes providing funding to incentivize states to implement "red flag" laws, an expansion of mental health services by growing a 10-state pilot program for behavioral health services to all 50 states, allowing juvenile records to be searched during background checks for those under 21 years of age, and funding for school security measures. It would also change the background check system to better crack down on criminals who evade that system by using smaller "hobbyists" to illegally buy guns.

The agreement is not expected to include a number of provisions pushed by President Joe Biden and gun control advocates, namely a renewal of the so-called assault weapons ban and raising the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.

The four main Senate negotiators -- Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and GOP Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina -- have been in talks all weekend to hammer out the final details and have also been in discussions with a larger bipartisan group of negotiators.

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Cornyn is the key here. He’s a top Senate Republican. He offers a lot of cover for those who might want to dabble with this package. Nineteen states have red flag laws. They sound great on paper, but often what occurs for someone who is mentally distressed and owns firearms is that the cops take the guns with no follow-up on aftercare. If that’s the case, it’s just the confiscation of private property. The whole point is to help the mentally ill. Also, the chance that these laws get abused especially by overzealous anti-gun district attorneys is beyond high. What are the due process guardrails here? Also, veterans will be the segment of the population that is disproportionally targeted by these laws. 

Funding for school security measures is good. Having juvenile records search for those under 21 buying long guns sounds good, but I need to see more details on that. on the former, why not pass a stand-alone bill just beefing up school security measures and providing more funding so school districts can hire resource officers. That for sure has 60-plus votes for passage. That’s doing something now, and it’s also popular and doesn’t trample constitutional rights. 

Can’t do that though. There’s always something up the sleeve with Democrats. And you never know—these talks could break down next week. 

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