Thursday, March 14, 2019

One Small Step, Opposed By Republicans

If blood is thicker than water, as the old saying goes, guns are thicker than immigration. This was demonstrated with the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which would extend both the background checks to private dealers, such as purchases made at gun shows and on the Internet, and the time limit for the checks.  On March 2 the New York Daily News reported

An unapologetic Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unloaded Saturday on the “splinter group” of fellow Democrats who backed Republicans on a controversial gun control bill amendment involving Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“If you’re mad that I think people SHOULD KNOW when Dems vote to expand ICE powers, then be mad,” the freshman Democratic congresswoman wrote in a series of sharp-edged tweets.

“ICE is a dangerous agency with (zero) accountability, widespread reporting of rape, abuse of power, + children dying in DHS custody. Having a D next to your name doesn’t make that right.”

The party infighting followed a bipartisan vote where the minority Republicans, aided by middle-of-the-road Democrats, added a provision to a gun control bill that requires notification of immigration authorities if an undocumented immigrant attempts to purchase a weapon....

“Mind you, the same small splinter group of Dems that tried to deny (Nancy) Pelosi the speakership, fund the wall during the shutdown when the public didn’t want it, & are now voting in surprise ICE amendments to gun safety legislation are being called the “moderate wing” of the party,” she wrote.

Ocasio-Cortez is flat-out wrong on this, as was Speaker Pelosi, who urged Democrats (largely successfully) to vote against the motion to recommit. The vast majority of illegal immigrants work, obey the law, and keep a low profile while trying to remain in the country. Those brazen enough to try to purchase a weapon not only should be reported to ICE but are precisely those immigrants (along with those who commit a felony) who most need to be detained and deported.

All but 26 Democratic House members voted against this GOP proposal, On final passage, Ocasio-Cortez was one of 232 (one not voting) of 235 Democrats voting in favor of the bill while 188 of 197 Republicans (one not voting) voted against the proposal.

So Republicans- and a few wise and courageous Democrats- got what they wanted with agreement to have immigration enforcement notified when a person in the country illegally attempts to purchase a firearm, the most lethal weapon an individual might commonly possess. (Note to most Republicans and a few Democrats: not all persons are entitled to a firearm for any purpose at any time.) 

With opposition from the National Rifle Association, a Senate controlled by Mitch McConnell's GOP, and a President who won't cross the gun lobby, passage is unlikely.  However, this is a reminder (including to those liberals and progressives who couldn't bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton in November 2016) that there are a lot of differences between Democrats and Republicans, some of them deadly.

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