Presumably eager to score a few political points for his legacy before he retires over his
totally tanking popularity ideological differences with Trump, Sen. Jeff Flake pledged Tuesday to pen a new bill making it illegal for domestic violence offenders to buy a gun, presumably in response to Sunday's shooting in a Texas church carried out by a known domestic abuser.
Writing a bill w/ @MartinHeinrich to prevent anyone convicted of domestic violence – be it in criminal or military court – from buying a gun— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) November 7, 2017
The problem is that Flake’s proposal sounds an awful lot like another law – one that's been in effect for more than 20 years.
Someone on Flake’s legislative team might want to point the senator to the Lautenberg Amendment, signed into law in the fall of 1996. The measure, known by its longer title as “Restrictions on the Possession of Firearms by Individuals Convicted of a Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence”…well, frankly, restricts the possession of individuals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
Those convicted of felony domestic violence crimes were already barred from owning and purchasing firearms based on their standing as a felon.
But what about Flake’s promise that his “new” bill would include military members convicted of domestic violence by military courts? Yeah, the Lautenberg Amendment already includes that, too. From the Justice Department:
One of the provisions of this new statute removed the exemption that 18 U.S.C. § 925(a)(1) provided to police and military. Thus, as of the effective date, any member of the military or any police officer who has a qualifying misdemeanor conviction is no longer able to possess a firearm, even while on duty.
While an elected United States senator is clearly unaware that the bill he’s promising to write has already existed for more than two decades, a few Americans on Twitter were quick to point out his flub.
You do realize this law already exists, right?— Josh Martin (@joshmartin98) November 7, 2017
You mean the Lautenberg Amendment? https://t.co/jE0h0gPejv I'm all with you on this of course! But we have that already. We need enforcement— Bastlynn (@bastlynn) November 7, 2017
Can you elaborate on this, senator? What you're describing is already federal law and has been for decades. This tweet is confusing.— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) November 7, 2017
So, you're writing a bill for a law that already exists?— Apathy Politics (@ApathyPolitics) November 7, 2017
Hooray for Jeff Flake for inventing time travel back to 1996 when Congress passed THIS VERY LAW https://t.co/oYOtt6UqUD— Jack Lindell (@mydogleonard) November 7, 2017
"I, Jeff Flake, promise to uphold the constitution that I've never read and don't know." Please resign already.— Shelley (@graphixpro1) November 7, 2017
Perhaps, before one suggests spending copious amounts of time and taxpayer dollars amending U.S. law, one should read what it already says.
(Cover Photo: Gage Skidmore)