Remedial Practical Civics 100, Lesson 1
A bunch of teens in Florida skipped school and went to Tallahassee to demand more of the same gun control that failed to save their classmates. Like petulant two year-olds, they whined and screamed when they weren’t given what they want when they want it.*
In short, they failed their civics class.
OK, kids. Here’s the down and dirty on what your teachers should have taught you about how the legislative process works…
David! Take the Tide Pod out of your mouth!
First, you were likely told (if told anything) that a citizen tells a legislator what he wants, the legislator drafts a bill, the bill is entered in the house/senate/whatever (this generic, as it depends on locale), it gets voted on, and the governor signs it into law.
Emma! Do not stick that fork in the electrical outlet!
Believing that to be the case, it’s… slightly understandable why the poorly educated public school victims didn’t understand their rejection. Here’s the reality.
1. Citizen wants something.
He either spends months or weeks (and sometimes years) working his way through staffers until someone brings it to the legislators attention with a recommendation to submit a bill.
Sometimes there are ways to bypass the staff filters. It helps if you’ve made large campaign contributions in the past, or can make a credible suggestion that such are forthcoming.
The other way is to get the media on your side. In your case, CNN et al used you to push their preexisting agenda. You didn’t use them. If you’d used them, your class president would have created an astroturf “media” association, instead of a long time CNN producer pretending to be a stay-at-home mom and organizing you.
2. So the legislator knows what you want. He doesn’t write the bill. He doesn’t have the time. You have to write, annotations to appropriate state statutes and all. (And that’s how come the NRA’s fingerprints are sometimes on legislation you don’t like; they remembered to do what you forgot or never knew.)
3. Congratulations, you have a proposed bill. Now Honorable Joe Blow’s staffers are going to throw it on the slush pile of other proposed bills. If they can get to it in time for the next session, they’ll scour it for booby traps like “pi equals 3.1” or legalizing naked Jello hamster/human marriage (people try that sometimes).
4. Your bill is clean. Interested legislator submits it to the calendar. Now the calendar will be checked to see if there are more bills than the legislature has time to address. If folks don’t think your bill is quite as important as another, you may not make the cut. Sorry; try again next session.
Or your bill is scheduled for consideration…
5. …in every committee that covers any topic covered by your bill: Crime/Judiciary, Finance (it’s going to cost something to implement, right?), and anything else. Any one of them can stall it, or kill it.
6. Kill it? How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.
Judiciary: “Wait? We’re going to raise the age for rifles to eighteen because a chumbucket shot up his old school? Didn’t anyone tell these kids that it’s already illegal for a prohibited person to buy a gun, conceal it, carry it into a gun-free zone, and kill people? We don’t need this. Inexpedient To Legislate!”
Finance: “Umm… confiscate 100,000 AR-pattern rifles? Compensating the owner for the taking at $700 to $5,000 per gun? That’s as much as half a billion bucks we don’t have. If we raise taxes to fund that, none of us are getting reelected. ITL!”
Or even “One known, crazy, prohibited person murdered folks, and these darn kids blame the 120 million honest gunowners who didn’t do it? And the one AR, when there are roughly 16 million ARs out there that weren’t used? And maybe three quarters of billion other firearms? Did they confuse Pods for their Adderall again? ITL!”
“Wait. We banned “assault weapons” nationwide for ten years. It didn’t work then; why would it work now? ITL!”
I’ll give you a hint for improving your odds: All that lobbying and campaign-donating you did for Joe Blow? You’d better have greased up several more legislators as well.
And then there’s the amendment process to fix perceived flaws in your bill. Remember that.
But let’s say your bill, after months of wrangling, is scheduled for a floor vote. That brings us to Thursday’s scholastic fiasco..
7. Did I mention that you need a bill sponsor in the other legislative body, too? That your bill has to pass both houses? You were doing all of the above with Senator Jack Sucks, right?
But back to Thursday. You ignorant kids tried to jump the line. You don’t get to do that at Disney World, and it doesn’t work in the capitol. What you did was piss off a lot of other people who did bother to spend the bucks, and months or years, to get their own bills — equally or more important in their eyes. You told them that your bill isn’t important enough to work at, but tis more important than them.
You just blew off a lot of people, including potential allies.
8. So your bill makes to the floor. I’ll bet it was going to a vote. Sorry, kids; floor debate time. If you’re lucky, it might only take a day or two. But for something as controversial as the large-scale abrogation of human/civil rights, you could be looking at weeks of debate.
In both chambers.
But say the bill(s) finally get voted on, and somehow pass.
You thought it was going to the governor, didn’t you? Why, bless your hearts.
9. Now the house and senate bills go to reconciliation, because, what with committee changes and floor amendments, even if you got sponsors for identical bills in both chambers, it’s virtually impossible for both to have made it through with identical changes. Another committee has to iron out those differences. While procedures vary, expect the final markup bill to go back to the respective chambers for a final vote.
This politics shit ain’t as easy as you thought, huh, cupcake?
But in your happy-go-lucky world, the bill finally reaches the governor.
10. Will he sign or veto? Will he ponder, “Photogenic cry-on-demand kids backed by a CNN producer versus a really large opposed voting bloc. Can I still get reelected if I sign? Or will not signing get me tossed?”
I’ll guarantee that your opposition has been hammering the gov’s office with letters, faxes, emails, SMS, and phone calls the whole time. Did you?
A. The governor vetos. Back to the chambers, repeat most of above and hope you can bribe up the votes to override.
B. Happy, happy, joy, joy! He signs it. You now have a law and ARs magically evaporate, or whatever.
11. Well… No. Your shiny law may have an effective date on signing or in the future. Either way, it isn’t really enforceable until the law gets edited into state statutes. If you didn’t include an amnesty period for silly stuff like turning in firearms, you made instant criminals of 100,000 honest people.
But you have another problem. The courts.
What; you thought you were done when the gov signed your class tyranny project?
The fact is, very, very good lawyers are going to file suits against enforcement of your Intolerable Act. They’re going to bring up MILLER, LAMONT, CAETANO, HELLER, MCDONALD, and BOWERS vs. DEVITO. Do you even know what those are? Then WTF are you doing pontificating on firearms policy?
An attorney who really wants to ridicule you will cite HAYNES, and note that your law doesn’t apply to felons.
In your defense, with exception of Thomas, the Supreme Court has misplaced its one testicle. SO if you can get the circuit court to uphold part of your law, you might get a partial victory.
So your law is law. Good luck with that. California, Connecticut, and New York tried registering “assault weapons” (making them among those rare places where the term means anything). Care to guess how that went?
CA: 2.33% compliance. Over 97% of gunowners told them to fribble off.
CT: 13.44% compliance, with the rest more or less saying, “Try it.”
NY: 4.45% compliance. The rest were too busy giggling to issue a statement.
That was just registration. Not confiscation. Do you really want to try your luck? Or, rather, the luck of the cops you’re sending out to do the dirty deeds? (Unless you were volunteering to take point. No?)
I’ve noticed that some victim disarming idiots point to Australia’s success in firearms confiscation. But have you wondered why they keep having new amnesty periods? I’ll give you a hint: After 22 years of confiscations and amnesties, the Australian government now estimates they have achieved approximately 20% compliance.
Closer to home, California began a confiscation program. As an example of how well that’s working:
Santa Cruz County law enforcement agencies teamed up with agents from the California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms for a two-day operation on Tuesday and Wednesday to recover guns owned by individuals who are prohibited from possessing them, according to the Santa Cruz County Law Enforcement Chief’s Association.
Multiple agencies from the state and local levels. Two days. 47 addresses. They have the addresses and names because they have registration. If these laws work, they knew exactly where to go to arrest who with what.
They were able to bust one guy. With one gun.
California has a backlog of some ten thousand new prohibited persons (and growing). At the rate of one half a gun per day, that will take how long…
That’s a math test. Answer it. No; it isn’t common core, so the right answer matters.
20,000 days. Just shy of 55 years. Not counting people constantly joining the list.
Lecture over. It’s time for your final exam.
Telling your anti-rights agenda teachers to shove their candyland version of politics gets you an automatic passing grade.
Figuring out you were wrong about the whole thing is an A+.
* Side note: You kids played hooky from school. A legislator paid for your transportation to and from Tallahassee, and bought your meals. Such a sacrifice on your part.
All those grownups who showed up to oppose your CNN’s 18 U.S. Code § 241 production? They took unpaid time off work to defend their rights (and yours, though you haven’t figured that out yet). They paid their own ways, and bought their own food. They sacrificed for something they truly care about.
You’d best factor that principled and dedicated opposition into your plans.