Yesterday’s confirmation hearing for Senator Jeff Sessions was something of a circus. Somewhere between the various outbursts from protesters and accusations of racism there was time for a handful of actual policy questions. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, a made member of the Congressional Civilian Disarmament Caucus, pressed Sessions on his opinions on gun control, specifically asking about his opinion of background checks.
Session’s response: yep, I do. Mostly.
“I believe in background check laws and many of them are appropriate, but in every instance? There are some instances when it’s not practical,” Sessions said, like when a family member inherits a firearm.
As our own Bruce Krafft has pointed out the problem with “universal background checks” isn’t so much their existence as their implementation. The latest incarnation of a universal background check proposal, introduced by newly minted Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, would make felons out of firearms owning couples and those wanting to shoot with some friends on private property (among other things).
There are few who would object to performing a background check before they sell a firearm to another individual, but when the proposed legislation makes felons out of otherwise law-abiding Americans trying to enjoy their constitutionally protected rights, we start to have a problem.
I give Senator Sessions half credit for his studied response. He correctly identified an instance where “universal background checks” would be problematic and gave himself room to oppose them in the future. But he missed the bigger issues. What about those who live hours away from the closest gun dealer who want to sell their gun? Or friends loaning their guns to each other for hunting season?
There are endless scenarios where “universal background checks” would severely restrict the ability of citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights. But perhaps Sessions said what he felt he had to in order to deprive his opponents of any more ammunition against him. Let’s go with that for now.