Slatest PM: Congress Preps For Next Gun Fight

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 25 2013 4:38 PM

Slatest PM: "Gun Trusts" Are the New Gun Show Loophole

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A gun seller shows a customer an AR-15 style rifle at Freddie Bear Sports sporting goods store on December 17, 2012 in Tinley Park, Illinois

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

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Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Congress's Next Gun Fight: Politico: "Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has released a series of gun-violence preventions bills — including a controversial assault weapons ban being pushed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) — for mark up in his panel on Thursday. Because of procedural rules in the Judiciary Committee, Republicans could delay that session for a week. But the move to include the assault weapons ban in the Judiciary Committee package guarantees that the National Rifle Association and gun-rights groups will try to derail the bill in committee or when it reaches the Senate floor during the next several weeks. Other legislation being considered for Judiciary markup is a bill by Leahy to stop illegal gun trafficking; a 'placeholder' proposal on universal background checks for all gun sales by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.); and a measure by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to increase school safety."

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Speaking of That Placeholder: Washington Post (from Saturday): "A bipartisan group of senators is on the verge of a deal that would expand background checks to all private firearms sales with limited exemptions, but significant disagreements remain on the issue of keeping records of private gun sales, according to aides familiar with the talks. An agreement would be a bold first step toward consideration of legislation to limit gun violence in the wake of the mass shootings at a Connecticut elementary school in December and comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected this week to begin considering new proposals to limit gun violence."

Finding a New Loophole: New York Times: "A growing number of shooting enthusiasts are creating legal trusts to acquire fully automatic guns, silencers or other firearms whose sale is restricted by federal law — a mechanism that bypasses the need to obtain law enforcement approval or even criminal background checks. The trusts, called gun trusts, are intended to allow owners of the firearms to share them legally with family members and to pass them down responsibly. They have gained in popularity, gun owners say, in part because they may offer protection from future legislation intended to prohibit the possession or sale of the firearms. But because of a loophole in federal regulations, buying restricted firearms through a trust also exempts the trust’s members from requirements that apply to individual buyers, including being fingerprinted, obtaining the approval of a chief local law enforcement officer and undergoing a background check."

Using the Loophole: More from the NYT: "Lawyers who handle the trusts and gun owners who have used them say that the majority of customers who buy restricted firearms through trusts do not do so to avoid such requirements. And most gun dealers continue to require background checks for the representative of the trust who picks up the firearm. But not all do. Christopher J. Dorner, the former Los Angeles police officer who embarked on a weeklong assault on law enforcement officers this month that ended with his death on Feb. 12, said in a rambling 11,000-word manifesto that he had used a gun trust to buy silencers and a short-barreled rifle from a gun store in Nevada without a background check."

Happy Monday and welcome to The Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

Italy's a Mess: New York Times: "Italian voters delivered a rousing anti-austerity message and a strong rebuke to the existing political order in national elections on Monday that threatened to plunge the country into political paralysis after early results failed to produce a clear winner. Political experts said the situation would most likely lead to a shaky coalition government and once again expose Italy and the euro zone to turmoil if financial markets question the new government’s commitment to measures that have kept the budget deficit within a tolerable 3 percent of gross domestic product. In an election marked by voter anger and low turnout, the center-left Democratic Party appeared to be leading in the Lower House with a third of the votes counted and in the Senate with two-thirds of the votes counted by 8 p.m. local time. But the results were not a clear victory, because the center-right People of Liberty Party of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was leading in several populous regions that carry more Senate seats, raising the prospect of political gridlock."

The Real Story: Washington Post: "The story of the election in the eurozone’s third largest economy was shaping up to be the astonishing vote haul of comic-turned-politician Beppe Grillo, whose 5 Star Movement has capitalized on a wave of voter disgust with the ruling political class. ... The Italian election has been one of the most fluid in the last two decades thanks to the emergence of Grillo’s 5 Star Movement, which has throbbed with anger with politics as usual. ... Grillo’s forces are the greatest unknown. His protest movement against the entrenched political class has gained in strength following a series of corporate scandals that only seemed to confirm the worst about Italy’s establishment. If his self-styled political “tsunami” sweeps into Parliament with a big chunk of seats, Italy could be in store for a prolonged period of political confusion that would spook the markets. He himself won’t hold any office, due to a manslaughter conviction."

Putting Sleeves on the First Lady: ABC News: "A semi-official Iranian news agency called Fars altered an image of Michelle Obama at the Academy Awards to appeal to their more conservative readers. An image was Photoshopped to show Mrs. Obama with covered shoulders and chest—a stark contrast from the sleeveless silver gown that she was wearing by designer Naeem Khan on Sunday night. Although modest by American standards, the designer gown, which exposed the shoulders and partial chest of the first lady, violated the codes of modesty enforced in many Muslim countries."

Europe's Horse Meat Scandal: BBC: "Ikea has withdrawn meatballs from sale in 14 European countries after tests in the Czech Republic found traces of horsemeat in a batch made in Sweden. Meatballs from the same batch had been sold in many states, including the UK, France and Portugal, the retailer said. Swiss food giant Nestle meanwhile said it had found horse DNA in meat from the Spanish supplier, Servocar."

Nurse Jack: Wall Street Journal: "Hospital patients are more likely than ever to see a male nurse at their bedside — and odds are he earns more than the female nurse down the hall. Men made up close to 10% of all registered nurses in 2011, according to a new Census report released today. That may not sound like much, but it’s up from less than 3% in 1970 and less than 8% in 2000."

Your Depressing Daily Sequester Update: National Journal: "Just four days remain until Friday’s start date for federal spending cuts that were supposed to be too painful to ever let happen, but lawmakers return to Washington on Monday with little hope for an eleventh-hour deal to avert or reshape them—or any let-up in the fighting over who is to blame. Sequester week has finally arrived. Most of the $85 billion in reductions set to thump almost every area of government will be stretched out over the remaining seven months of this fiscal year. But impacts on the economy, government services, and programs could become evident within weeks, and hundreds of thousands of federal workers could face furloughs by April."

Killing Climate Hawks' Dreams of a Carbon Tax: The Hill: "Jack Lew, the White House nominee for Treasury secretary, says President Obama’s second-term vow to confront climate change will not lead to proposals to tax carbon dioxide emissions. 'The administration has not proposed a carbon tax, nor is it planning to do so,' Lew said in written responses to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which will vote on Lew’s nomination Tuesday. Carbon taxes or fees are generating new interest among climate advocates and some liberal lawmakers, especially amid debates about how to curb the deficit and overhaul the tax code."

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