By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – Despite the Supreme Court ruling on conceal carry and abortion in the past week or so, Congressman Mike Thompson was able to point to some progress at least on the gun control.
“I believe that the work my task force on gun violence prevention did, and the work that we did in the judiciary committee in the House was a major part of the success that we had,” the Congressman told the Vanguard in a sit-down interview on Wednesday.
“We put a lot of pressure on the Senate to do something, and that’s been over the course of a few years,” he added noting that the House passed his bill that would have expanded background checks to require everybody who buys a gun to get a background check. That bill went over to the Senate, but failed to get 10 Republican Senators to support it to get it past a filibuster.
Thompson noted there is a loophole in the background check law that needed to be closed.
“There was a terrible situation in South Carolina where somebody went in, bought a gun. The background check wasn’t completed in three days, gave him the gun, took it into a church, killed a bunch of people who were praying in church,” he said. “Jim Clyburn from South Carolina was in his district and he did this loophole bill to close that. The Senate doesn’t have 10 Republican Senators that will join with the Democrats to bring that up for a vote.”
Then Ulvade happened. Jerry Nadler, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Sheila Jackson Lee, the Chair of the Subcommittee, and Mike Thompson wrote legislation that combined some work, broke it up into different parts, took each piece to the floor and passed each piece on bipartisan votes.
“We had a number of Republicans,” he explained, each voting for a few different parts. “So on every title, we had Republican votes and on the passage of the bill, we had Republican votes that went over to the Senate.”
Ultimately, they were able to get about 14 to 15 Republican Senators to pass the bill along with about 14 Republican House Members.
“Every part of the bill is going to make our communities and our schools safer. And it’s going to save lives,” Thompson explained.
Key portions of the bill include a red flag provision—an extreme risk protective order if someone is a danger to themselves or others they can be separated from their guns for a period of time. There’s money in the bill that would help states to establish such red flag flaws.
There is also a provision whereby for anyone under the age of 21 buying a firearm, there is an enhanced background check allowing them to go back and look in the juvenile records.
Also, there is a boyfriend loophole that is closed.
“Under the law prior to this, if you were an abusive spouse, you’re prohibited from owning a firearm, but if you’re a, an abusive non-married partner, you’re not. And so we closed down, we’ve been trying to for years and the Republicans would not allow it to happen.”
There is also money in the bill for mental health and school security.
“It’s a good bill. It passes the three tests—it is constitutional, it had the votes, and it’s going to save lives,” he said.
Uvalde was basically the straw that forced the Republicans to recognize that they had to pass something with respect to gun control. But the math in Senate especially and likely changes at the midterms precludes the possibility of going much further.
With respect to the recent gun ruling, from Mike Thompson’s perspective, “I think the purest way to look at it is what the court did, was restricted the states’ ability to keep their community safe.”
He noted that the New York conceal permit law was on the books for 100 years.
“The deal in New York was if you want to carry a concealed weapon, you have to show cause for doing that,” he said. “The idea that they strip states from being able to set their own standards I think is troubling.”
He said, “I think what’s going to happen is you’re going to see states—at least states that think this is an issue—they’re going to redefine what it takes in order to qualify for a concealed carry.”
So they may add educational requirements or training requirements.
“Then you’re going to see states impose restrictions on where you can bring a concealed weapon—and every state probably handles that differently. And then you’ll probably see individual businesses setting the same thing, you know, like Safeway can’t have a concealed weapon in the Safeway store, Starbucks, whomever,” he said.
The discussion turned to the recent court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
“Disturbing, but not unexpected,” the Congressman said. “Not only did we all know this was going to happen for some time now, but for the last 50 years, there’s parts of the Republican party, that the only reason that they existed was to overturn Roe.”
“That tenaciousness paid off,” he said.
For much of the last 30 to 50 years, the Republicans have mobilized from the grassroots up.
That could be tough for Democrats to match.
“There’s an old saying from Will Rogers—I’m not a member of any organized party, I’m a Democrat,” Thompson quipped. “Democrats want government to work. They want it to be accessible to everyone. They see it as a means to an end, uh, to improve everyone’s lives.”
The Republicans have been able to mobilize, as Grover Norquist put it, to make government “small enough so we can drown it.”
Thompson said, “It’s a lot easier to be the party of no.”
He related a story by this Stephen Miller group who had been in the Trump administration. In a small town in California, they have attacked the school board because of mask and vaccine mandates.
“It became so bad that they started having school board members resign. They say, it’s not what I signed up for. I signed up to serve my community and not to be attacked, not to have my kids attacked, not to be followed around the supermarket and criticized,” Thompson explained. Then the school board tries to appoint someone to fill the vacancies, there’s a provision where a certain percentage of the electorate signs a petition, and it has to go to an election. “In Middletown, California, it’s 90 people. They’ve got 90 anti-government people that no matter who they appoint, they block. It’s not helping government to work.”
Thompson believes we will see states like California passing constitutional amendments to make abortion easier, and other states passing laws to criminalize any assistance to anyone.
Thompson sees the threat to issues like same sex marriages and the like as well.
“It supports the statement that elections have consequences,” Thompson said. “That’s how we fix this thing. We get more involved in these elections, and we elect people that share our values.”