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To Ensure Campus Safety, Congress Goes Halfway

Interesting article in Sunday's WaPo by Johnny Weisman on a reported deal between Congressional Democrats and the National Rifle Association -- two groups that heretofore haven't exactly been considered allies. The legislation that is the subject of the deal is the first Congressional action that is part of the fallout from the Virginia Tech shootings in April. The intent of the bill is to strengthen background checks on gun buyers, incentivizing states through liberal federal largess "to keep the Federal background database up to date," as Weisman reports, so that folks like VT shooter Sueng Hui Cho would have been prevented from buying a gun. Up to now, the NRA has been loathe to make the background checks any more stringent, but public pressure after the VT shootings have moved them to the negotiating table.

This is certainly a step in the right direction but there's another side to this equation. We'd guess (and it's not really a guess) that most large Universities are currently defending plenty of lawsuits right now -- lawsuits filed by students and parents of students who had been removed from the University because they were seen as a danger to other students. While the Dems are busy laying blame on the NRA, why not pass a law that holds every University harmless that acts in good faith to remove a dangerous student from campus, or from its rolls?

Such an idea, of course, would never pass muster among the trial bar, the big funders of the Democrats. But if Congress really wants to prevent another Virginia Tech-type massacre, along with demagoguing on gun control, they need to also indemnify well-intentioned and responsible University officials from being sued for doing the right thing.

Let's see if Congress is willing to try to bring the trial lawyers to the table, or if they're just interested in making a political statement by wagging a Congressional finger at the NRA.


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