How the NRA beat the kids, again

Prognosis negative on Congress gun law action
Prognosis negative on Congress gun law action


    Prognosis negative on Congress gun law action


Prognosis negative on Congress gun law action 01:32

Washington (CNN)This time, we were told, it would be different.

The murders of 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High School 13 days ago was the latest in a long line of school shootings that began nearly 20 years ago at Columbine High School in Colorado. But, unlike almost all of the mass casualty shootings that have followed in those last two decades, the students of Stoneman Douglas were speaking out about what happened in their school. They were demanding politicians act -- and not taking "no" for an answer.
Then Congress came back to Washington on Monday. And man oh man, did it look like the same old script on gun legislation.
The House quickly made clear that they had already passed legislation to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) late last year and that the ball was, therefore, in the Senate's court. (The "Fix NICS," um, fix in the House was paired with a measure supported by gun rights advocates that would allow people with concealed carry permits in one state to keep their guns concealed when they cross state lines.)
    "We think the Senate can take our whole bill (up) but if the Senate cannot, we will cross that bridge when we get to it," said Speaker Paul Ryan of potential gun legislation in a news conference on Tuesday.
    And then the Senate, well, they Senate-ed.
    Republican leaders -- led by Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas -- tried to rally unanimous consent behind the Senate version of the Fix NICS bill, which Cornyn and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, had introduced following the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in 2017. That would have allowed a simple voice vote for passage.
    But Utah's Mike Lee, a Republican, objected. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, also argued in a statement that the legislation didn't go far enough to address the problems raised by this latest school shooting.
    All of which means that the Senate is starting from zero on guns Tuesday, with no obvious path forward on legislation that could win 60 votes.
    Meanwhile, President Donald Trump, who last week had been insistent on making bigger bore changes to the nation's gun laws -- universal background checks, raising the age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 - now seems to be backing off slightly amid public opposition from the National Rifle Association.
    Stop me if you've seen this movie before.
    In 2013, following the murders at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, there was lots and lots of talk about how the deaths of so many small children would finally be the tipping point in the gun debate in Congress. President Barack Obama promised action. Congress seemed ready to act.
    Then the politics set in. Republicans, joined by a group of moderate Democrats, kept the bipartisan guns bill offered by Sens. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, from even getting an up-or-down vote. Ditto a series of other proposals aimed at instituting a variety of gun reforms.
    In the end, nothing happened.
    Monday seemed to be a step along that same path. And on Tuesday morning -- even as Trump launched a tweetstorm about Bob Mueller's special counsel probe into Russia's attempted 2016 meddling -- Republicans in Congress seemed to be far short of gung-ho about getting any sort of major gun legislation (or perhaps any minor gun law) passed.
    "We shouldn't be banning guns for law-abiding citizens," said Ryan.
    "What about all the laws that are already on the books that we're not properly implementing," asked House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, in response to a question about what gun measures Congress could or would pass post-Parkland. (Scalise was badly wounded when he was shot last year by a man targeting a Republican baseball practice.)
    All of the writing on the wall as of right now points to this likelihood: Notwithstanding the eloquence and outspokenness of the Stoneman Douglas students and despite the horrors that happened at their school 13 days ago, action in Congress is beginning to look more and more like a distant possibility.
    Congress is a changeable entity. Trump is the least predictable person to hold the top office in, well, ever. Which is just another way of saying that things can and do change.
    But, the arc of this shooting -- and the calls for action -- while longer and louder than most, is starting to look very familiar. And that arc bends toward inaction.
    CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized the victim count.