In the first effort to move legislation related to gun policy since the Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs massacres, the House voted to pass the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, a dangerous piece of legislation that will “allow concealed-carry permit holders from one state to legally carry their guns to any other state.” Rather than making a good faith effort to address one of the many gaps in our federal laws that leave communities vulnerable to gun violence, House leadership instead chose to side with the National Rifle Association to push through one of their top legislative priorities. This bill would force states to honor the concealed carry permits issued by every other state, even states with much weaker standards, meaning that states would not be able to control who is allowed to carry loaded, concealed guns in their communities. The vote fell largely along party lines, with House Republicans overwhelmingly supporting the legislation. It seems odd for legislators that continually talk about states’ rights to advance a bill that undermines individual states’ autonomy to create and enforce their own laws.
The act has been one of the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) biggest goals for many years, and now, they are closer to seeing that goal realized. In just the first two quarters of 2017, the NRA spent $3.2 million in lobbying costs, more than it did in all of 2016. Much of that money has made its way into the pockets of members of Congress, and it’s no secret that money has power to influence votes. After the Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs shootings, some of the top beneficiaries of NRA money in the House tweeted their “thoughts and prayers” – but none called for action. In fact, all of the top ten beneficiaries of NRA donations in the House are co-sponsors on this concealed carry bill.
This legislation puts our communities at greater risk, at a time when the gun violence epidemic in our country is already claiming more than 33,000 lives every year. Our country—and especially the future of this country, our children—deserve protections against gun violence so people are able to fulfill their dreams. Instead of advancing a chaotic, dangerous policy, Congress should make a serious effort to advance measures that have broad, bipartisan support that will actually help reduce gun deaths, such as the Fix NICS Act introduced by Senators Chris Murphy and John Cornyn, that would strengthen existing laws and help ensure that people who are prohibited from purchasing guns do not have access to them. This bill was actually merged with the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act by House Republic leadership – a cynical political move that makes it less likely that this measure will succeed.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#DreamActNow. Approximately 22,000 DACA recipients are losing protection from deportation and work permits right now because President Trump ended DACA. Until March 5, 2018, more than 850 will lose protection every week that Congress fails to pass legislation to protect Dreamers. After that, the number will skyrocket. But you can take action! Head to DreamActToolkit.org to call and tweet at key members of Congress who will cast deciding votes on the Dream Act. Then, if you live in Florida, Nevada, Tennessee, or Texas, check out which leaders in your state support a clean Dream Act.
Southern California Ablaze. In one of California’s most destructive years for fires, residents are facing some of the biggest blazes yet. Tens of thousands of people in southern California have been forced to evacuate, and officials are not expecting people to be able to return to their houses anytime soon. With high winds and little rainfall, the region is particularly susceptible to the fires spreading and growing, risking peoples’ lives and homes. After the fires earlier this year, more people have called into question the impact of climate change. According to one article, “scientists are increasingly suggesting that climate change has already had a hand in shaping fire seasons, not just in California but elsewhere around the world, and will likely continue to play a major role.”
Big Move. Yesterday, news broke that the Trump administration plans to make the announcement that it recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will be moving the U.S. embassy from its current location in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The change in U.S. foreign policy was met with widespread criticism around the world, especially from leaders of Muslim-majority countries. There is concern about violence and unrest in the region following the decision, and it quashes any notion that the Trump administration is committed to progress on peace talks in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine. Clearly, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has not been able to land the “ultimate deal” as promised – most likely because the administration has shown no interest in actually listening to what Palestinians want or have to say about the situation. The move will escalate tensions and undermine U.S. influence in the Middle East, at a time when the fight against ISIS continues.
Losing Coverage. A new report from the Center for American Progress shows the devastating impact the Congressional majority’s tax bill would have on health insurance coverage for people across the country, if the legislation passes. Nearly 30,000 people would lose health care coverage in every single congressional district by 2025, which is a total of 13 million people losing coverage. It is also expected that premiums will rise at least 10 percent. So, why would members of Congress be pushing for the repeal of the individual mandate? First, it was a campaign promise that many of them ran on, including the President himself. And, more importantly, the repeal of the individual mandate is seen as a pay-for to cover the high costs of slashing taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Fight back at TrumpTaxToolkit.org.
UNDER THE RADAR
More Attacks on the Horizon. As anger—and the legal response—continues to grow about Trump’s actions to eliminate huge portions of two national monuments in Utah, there are reports that these moves are just the beginning of an even broader attack on public lands. Some of the other monuments Zinke has recommended cutting include: Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon and California, and Gold Butte in Nevada. Although Interior Secretary Zinke has described the changes as “modest,” they are anything but that. Tens of millions more acres of public lands and oceans could soon be sold out for mining, drilling, logging, and industrial scale commercial fishing. Most importantly, Trump does not have the legal authority to eliminate or alter national monuments, and several tribal nations and environmental groups have already sued. To get involved in the fight, head to MonumentsForAll.org.