Will our elected officials reach a compromise on guns this time?
As President Biden confronts the limits of his power to prevent future mass shootings, Congress looks for common ground on gun safety legislation.
It’s a uniquely American experience to start a vacation grieving the loss of 10 Black people who were murdered by a racist gunman in a Buffalo supermarket to return on the heels of another mass shooting that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school six hours from my hometown.
But here I am writing this newsletter with my body feeling a bit more refreshed while my mind grapples with an unchecked gun culture so robust that its proponents will earnestly point to everything but easy access to weapons of war to explain these reoccurring tragedies.
The Senate today is expected to meet on Zoom for talks led by Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to find common ground for a framework for bipartisan legislation.
Three ideas have been bandied about since the Uvalde shooting including universal background checks on gun purchases, red flag laws that would empower courts to issue protective orders barring people from buying or possessing firearms if a judge deems them to be a threat to themselves or others, and a ban on assault weapons.
There currently aren’t enough votes in the House or Senate for the assault weapons ban, but red flag laws seem to be of interest to members of both parties. Some Republicans like Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas bristle at universal background checks because he claims gun sales between friends or neighbors would be criminalized and that the offenders who intend harm are the least likely to adhere to the process. If Senators can’t come to a consensus, look for more funding to incentivize states and localities to enforce gun laws that are already on the books.
The talks come after Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell gave Cornyn a public blessing to “come up with a bipartisan solution that’s directly related to the facts of this awful massacre.” This gives McConnell wiggle room to later back out of talks under the guise that proposals from the other side were too far-reaching if he’s ultimately unsatisfied with the result of the negotiations.
Chuck Schumer, McConnell’s Democratic counterpart, plans to give his members space to reach a deal. But the top Senate Democrat also said the chamber would vote on gun safety legislation whether there’s a bipartisan compromise or not. With the Senate on recess this week, Schumer loses nothing with this hands-off approach while appearing to encourage consensus among the two parties.
The House is on recess too, but Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan at Punchbowl News report the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday will be holding an emergency hearing to mark up a package of eight gun-safety bills called the “Protecting Our Kids Act.”
The bills would raise the purchasing age for semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, amend the definition of “ghost guns” to require background checks on all sales and establish new requirements for storing guns at home, among other promising provisions.
House Democratic leaders are expected to bring the bills to the floor early next week, confident they have the votes to pass them. But they’re expected to stall in the Senate — however, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team feel they must respond to the recent mass shootings with action especially since public opinion is on their side.
In related news, House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer tweeted after the Uvalde school shooting that members would vote next week on a red flag law authored by Rep. Lucy McBath of Georgia, whose son Jordan Davis was fatally shot in 2012 at a gas station by a white man annoyed with how loud Davis and his friends’ music was.
Across the northern border, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday introduced new legislation that would freeze nationwide ownership of handguns once it passes the country’s parliament later this fall. (Canada already has bans on more than 1500 types of “assault-style” firearms.)
“We need only look south of the border to know that if we do not take action, firmly and rapidly, it gets worse and worse and more difficult to counter,” Trudeau said, adding that besides sport shooting and hunting, there is no reason for Canadians to need guns in their everyday lives. “We cannot let the gun debate became so polarized that nothing gets done. We cannot let that happen in our country. This is about freedom. People should be free to go to the supermarket, their school or their place of worship without fear.”
President Joe Biden agrees with Trudeau but he’s also well aware of the limits of his power.
Upon returning to the White House from his home in Delaware, Biden told reporters that while he’ll continue to take executive action on gun safety he can’t dictate the reforms he’d like to see.
“I can’t outlaw a weapon,” he said. “I can’t, you know, change the background checks. I can’t do that.” (FWIW, he called McConnell and Cornyn “rational” Republicans in a move that aligns with his preference to attract flies with honey instead of vinegar.)
For now, his most prominent role is as comforter-in-chief, one he assumed in Uvalde on Sunday with First Lady Jill Biden as they visited the memorial site at Robb Elementary School to pay their respects to the 21 lives lost. The Biden also attended a mass service, offered condolences to the grieving families of victims and survivors, and met with first responders.
As the president exited the church, someone in the crowd yelled “Do something!” to which he responded: “We will.”
Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday followed Biden’s visit to Buffalo days earlier to attend the memorial service of Ruth Whitfield, who at 86 was the oldest victim of the shooting at the Tops supermarket.
Rev. Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy at the funeral and said that when he asked the vice president to come to the service, she made it clear that she didn’t want to speak. That didn’t stop Sharpton from insisting Harris do so anyway.
“We are strong in our faith,” she said, obliging the reverend’s request. “We are strong in our belief about what is right and our determination to act, to ensure that we protect all those who deserve to be protected; that we see all those who deserve to be seen; that we hear the voices of the people; and that we rise up in solidarity to speak out against this and to speak to our better angels.”
Read All About It
Whizy Kim on the young, rich, anti-capitalist capitalists:
Some call it the seemingly contradictory term “anti-capitalist” investing; others refer to it as “transformative investing.” In general, proponents are going beyond merely disincentivizing unethical behavior in companies. They’re trying to shift more of the balance of financial power into the hands of the working class, transforming an economic system that they believe has unjustly given just a few people control over a majority of the capital. Some investors want to spend down all of their wealth through anti-capitalist investing, while others still want to get a return on their investments but make sure these investments are into ventures they feel promote social justice.
Financial professionals in the space say they’ve seen rising interest in this kind of investing strategy in recent years, and they attribute some of the interest to social justice becoming a bigger priority in the aftermath of the 2020 racial justice reckoning and a deeply unequal pandemic that killed so many Black and brown working-class people.
Amy Ettinger on teletherapy:
The efficacy of teletherapy is not the only reason it should continue, patients and practitioners say. The convenience of teletherapy is also a lifeline for people who have challenges getting to in-person appointments — such as people who live in rural areas where practitioners are scarce, those who live in traffic-choked urban areas, those who have been exposed to or have symptoms of [COVID-19], and those who are disabled.
Mac Schwerin on airlines’ premium economy trick:
Premium economy has become a major revenue driver for the airlines, which, according to Counterpoint Market Intelligence, an aerospace market research company, are projected to triple their inventory of premium seats by 2025. But travelers like Masters weren’t the original target. Britton explained that premium economy wasn’t built to entice strivers across flight-class lines; carriers originally designed it to catch the bruised egos of former business-class members when the corporate world began to earnestly self-audit and downgrade employee travel budgets. A recent report by Jay Sorensen, an industry consultant, noted that “the apparent discovery of a new type of upscale leisure traveler” is a welcome surprise for these airlines. It connoted a small miracle: Airlines had once again wrung a new social class from flying, as they had done with first and business class. And they were able to do it, in part, because of a phenomenon called “pain of payment.”
Kathryn VanArendonk on summer TV:
But aside from emphasizing that network TV is drifting off into its own distinct ecosystem further and further from whatever “streaming” is becoming, summer TV is now just TV. It’s a calendar version of the endless scroll. It’s TV programming that expects our narrative appetites remain constantly whetted and perpetually fulfilled without ever achieving satiety. It’s a symptom of Peak TV, of course; several hundred shows can’t all squeeze into a September-to-May schedule. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, though. We want more TV, so more TV gets made, so TV never stops, so we expect TV should never stop.
Susan Shapiro on brides who wear black wedding dresses:
Since weddings are back with a vengeance after the coronavirus crisis forced the cancellation of indoor events, brides are making their own rules. And what rules is black.
“It’s our hottest trend,” said Laura McKeever, the Pennsylvania-based head of public relations for David’s Bridal, the largest American wedding dress chain, with 300 stores across the country.
“Fashion is a way to express your individuality and a bridal gown is no different. For women who experienced losses during the pandemic and had to postpone their weddings, there’s a sense they don’t want to wait. Now’s the time. Life’s too short,” McKeever said. “And they want their day the way they want it, wearing what’s most comfortable and looks best. Aside from the dramatic, chic, showstopping unexpected look, black can be more flattering — and practical. If you’re spending a lot on a dress, you want to rewear it.”
Gabriela Claymore and Julia Gray on the 2000s — aka the horniest decade:
During the 2000s, pop culture’s depictions of sex tended toward goofy, as if Hollywood had been run by teenage boys with cartoon eyes popping out of their skulls and mile-long tongues hanging out of their mouths. The sheer horniness of the aughts was unique from other eras in its total lack of subtlety, distinctly raunchy in a way that has fallen out of vogue.
Sex still sells, of course, but it’s packaged in self-awareness, layered with years of internet discourse about consent and kink and modern intimacy.
The decline of early-aughts horny culture can be attributed to a few main developments. It was a slow death, brought forth in part by the internet’s tightening grip on our personal lives and the media’s recognition of women as … people. As porn and porn-adjacent content became available at the tap of a touchscreen (Pornhub launched in 2007, Instagram in 2010), sex bled into pop culture with less frequency. Today, sex is dispersed across the web. Everyone can have their own personalized, algorithmically curated e-stash.
Embrace Your Almost: Find Clarity and Contentment in the In-Betweens, Not-Quites, and Unknowns by Jordan Lee Dooley ($24): If you’re struggling to navigate what the author of this must-read describes as “the tension in the middle” — between where you started and where you hoped to be — then add this title to your summer book list pronto.
Reclaimed Vessels Popsicle Martini I ($36): Equal parts stylish and sustainable, this home scent is part of a collection of candles hand-poured in old containers and vessels.
Hot Take Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ($35): “Cookies are a part of a balanced lifestyle,” say the two sisters behind a buzzy baked-goods brand that uses organic non-GMO ingredients like two types of fair-trade chocolate and Mexican vanilla in their limited dough drops.