Reporter’s Notebook: Why Congress is trapped in ‘The Matrix’ on gun control


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Maybe it’s solely applicable that they’re rolling out one other “Matrix” film.

There’s a well-known scene within the unique “Matrix” the place Keanu Reeves’ character, Neo, spots a black cat padding alongside a hallway. Seconds later, Neo sees the identical black cat. Déjà vu is a nasty factor within the Matrix – to say nothing of the superstition of recognizing a black cat in your path.

The shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, have been weeks in the past. We’ve once more arrived at some extent of déjà vu. It’s even déjà vu compounded on prime of déjà vu, whether or not or not it’s Columbine or Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook or Parkland.

President Trump expressed sturdy help for bolstered background checks a couple of weeks in the past. Then, not a lot. Now, perhaps they’re again on the desk. Nobody actually is aware of, as a result of, properly, we’ll be off to the races on one thing else quickly sufficient.

Folks spoke of the twin shootings in Texas and Ohio being the one, or the 2, to alter issues. However now, we’re immersed in a diplomatic row with the prime minister of Denmark.

With the entire waffling this week, perhaps the president could have a change of coronary heart on gun management in spite of everything. If that’s the case, Trump’s disposition can be just like the response John Lennon gave when The Beatles got here to america. When requested by a reporter how he “discovered America,” Lennon quipped, “Flip left at Greenland.”

However, it’s unlikely. A mass capturing. The tears. The anguish. The proclamations and calls to actions. After which…

The black cat walked by means of the hallway, once more. And like “The Matrix,” the story repeats itself, revolution after revolution.

Not so much occurs.

In a letter to fellow congressional Democrats, Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., once more referred to as on Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to reconvene the Senate to deal with Home-approved payments bolstering background checks. Pelosi touted the truth that the Home Judiciary Committee would return to Washington a few days early on Sept. four to deal with gun measures. Pelosi mentioned Democrats would write a “crimson flag” invoice, put together laws barring these convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from buying weapons and writer a plan prohibiting excessive capability magazines.

Presumably, Pelosi and Home Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., wouldn’t go to work on that laws in the event that they didn’t have the votes to move them on the Home flooring subsequent month. What’s absent from Pelosi’s agenda is a invoice to ban “assault weapons.” A lot of Democrats have talked about barring such arms. However, there’s a cause such a invoice isn’t on the Home docket: it wouldn’t move the Home.

So, to be truthful, issues could be a bit totally different after El Paso and Dayton if the Home, now underneath the Democrats’ management, supposed to advance laws as a response to these mass shootings. However, the probabilities of something changing into regulation has remained a stretch. There’s the Senate, with its 60-vote threshold to beat a filibuster on laws, in addition to an obvious lack of help from President Trump. The Republican-controlled Senate probably would jump-to if the president delivered a full-throated endorsement.

McConnell was clear earlier this month when he mentioned he’d be keen to take a look at one thing that would move the Home and Senate — and earn the president’s signature. McConnell probably will take a dim view of something that comes up in need of operating the desk. 

“We’re the place we’ve at all times been,” one educated Republican supply instructed Fox Information this week about weapons. “There’s a capturing. Then, there’s discuss, however there’s no actual legislative push. There isn’t sufficient of a push to make a distinction.”

The supply is correct.

Sure, the telephones on Capitol Hill gentle up. There are declarations by lawmakers. Marches. Interviews with capturing survivors. However, “altering issues” hinges on the “constants” within the equation on Capitol Hill. The noise after every mass capturing nonetheless doesn’t alter the parliamentary calculus.


Pelosi apparently has supposed to maneuver firearms laws within the Home in September as a result of she will be able to. That a part of the equation would work within the favor of Democrats pushing for stiffer gun rules. Such a situation would permit Democrats to strain McConnell and the Senate to react. Sufficient strain and the Senate may act – or the difficulty may resonate on the poll field in 2020. However, with few exceptions, Democrats haven’t persuaded voters to tug the electoral levers for them relating to weapons within the period of mass shootings.

Take into account the circumstances going into the 2018 midterms after the Parkland bloodbath that February. Conservative Democrats have been struggling to carry Senate seats in states the place gun restrictions have been unpopular: West Virginia, North Dakota and Indiana. Solely Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., emerged victorious in that crowd. A state Democrats thought that they had an outdoor probability to flip? Texas. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat, misplaced to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

Different Republican seats that have been up? Former Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah retired. Sen. Mitt Romney took over for Hatch in Utah. Former Sen. Bob Corker retired in Tennessee. Sen. Marsha Blackburn saved that state crimson.

So, you see the issue within the Senate.

Little or no has modified. The mathematics has been the fixed – even within the postscript of El Paso and Dayton.

Can Democrats flip Texas after El Paso? Republican Sen. John Cornyn is on the poll. Democrats have a shot at profitable a couple of suburban congressional Home seats. However, relating to weapons, it’s nonetheless Texas.

Arizona? Perhaps. Former astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, is operating in opposition to Republican Sen. Martha McSally. Arizona has been an rising state for Democrats.

Nonetheless, Democrats need to win management of the Senate. On an excellent Election Evening night time for the social gathering, Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama would maintain his seat and a Democrat would defeat GOP Sen. Steve Daines in Montana. However Alabama and Montana supply variations of the “Texas drawback” for Democrats. Any Democrat who wins in these states probably gained’t align with the social gathering orthodoxy on firearms.

Congress' battles over gun legislation have similarities to "The Matrix."

Congress’ battles over gun laws have similarities to “The Matrix.”
(Warner Bros.)

So, these pushing for enhanced restrictions on firearms stay trapped in “The Matrix.” They preserve seeing the black cat and experiencing déjà vu. It’s uncertain something strikes now. Issues could be simply as unlikely even when Democrats choose up Senate seats, not to mention seize management of the Senate subsequent yr.


The shootings preserve taking place. And the parliamentary numbers change little or no.

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