In the Virginia Tech case, the shooter was able to buy firearms in part because relevant court records weren't forwarded to the National Instant Criminal Background System, the data center that helps conduct background checks.
The NRA lent its support to the bill, and to protect its flank against rivals on the right, it also won new language that for the first time allows someone banned from possessing a gun to appeal at the state level to have those rights restored. Some gun-safety advocates criticized this concession, but the bigger problem turned out to be infighting among Democratic senators.
Mr. Leahy, who dislikes federal mandates, complained that his small state would be hard-pressed to meet the House deadlines for sharing information, and therefore risked being penalized.
But it wasn't until August that he advanced his package, which ran almost 50 pages more than the House bill and added provisions that split the law-enforcement community.
Both measures promise new federal money to update records while states face future aid cuts if they don't comply. Mr. Leahy's version has a richer "carrot" and gentler "stick," narrowing the records that must be shared and giving states twice as long before mandatory penalties can be imposed.
But the chairman then also reopened a fight with Mr. Kennedy by including amendments to an existing law that allows retired law-enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons across state lines.
Enacted in 2004, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act continues to meet resistance from states and cities, such as New York, as an intrusion on local control.
Mr. Leahy's proposed changes would make it easier for retired officers to get around these obstacles and also lower the years of service needed to qualify to carry concealed weapons from 15 to 10.
Pressing for the changes is the 325,000-member Fraternal Order of Police, a politically influential group that claims close ties to Mr. Leahy and his top staff. The FOP says it is only asking for "tweaks" to the current law. Mr. Leahy's office argues that as a former prosecutor he has a natural alliance with the police organization and has long been active on law-enforcement legislation.
Critics of the safety Act in the law-enforcement community point to the fact that Mr. Leahy's involvement in the issue grew after a brouhaha with the New York Post over whether the Democrat was obstructing the awarding of medals of valor to police and firemen killed on Sept. 11. Sen. Leahy angrily denied the charges, and after the FOP came to his aid, he took a higher profile role in support of the bill.
Friday, September 21, 2007
HR 2640 Amendments
It's in the Senate now, and as some worried, there are attempts being made to amend it--but not by the Democrats to add antigun stuff on it--but by Democrats adding stuff to make it easier for some people to carry guns. The Bitch Girls pointed me to this September 21, 2007 Wall Street Journal article that reminds us of the famous saying by Will Rogers, "I am not a member of an organized political party. I am a Democrat."