Gun Control: What Stupak Got Right


Retiring Rep. Bart Stupak will surely go down in history as the congressman who nearly killed health reform before assuring its passage at the eleventh hour. But there’s another controversial piece of his history that’s less well-known—one that might endear the Michigan Democrat a little more to his many progressive critics. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is celebrating Stupak for supporting a 1999 bill to restrict gun sales—and urging other legislators to back the current incarnation of the legislation.

Long a staunch gun-rights defender, supported by the National Rifle Association since coming to Congress in 1992, Stupak defied expectation by backing a House bill that closed the so-called “gun show loophole,” requiring background checks for firearms sales from unauthorized dealers. The bill was proposed shortly after that the Columbine massacre, whose perpetrators had gotten their weapons via the loophole. While the measure never passed, the NRA didn’t forgive Stupak for backing it, pulling its support and campaigning against the Michigan Democrat in 2000.

“The gun lobby targeted Stupak for defeat, but he won handily,” the Brady Campaign said in a statement Tuesday. “When candidates do the right thing, their constituents stand behind them and support them.” The group points out that in his retirement speech last Friday, Stupak said he prided himself for having “taken on the National Rifle Association up here.”

Curiously enough, Stupak himself hasn’t yet signed on as a co-sponsor of the current incarnation of the bill, which has gained bipartisan support from nearly 100 House members. Last year, in fact, Stupak introduced legislation that would actually make it easier for convicted felons to acquire firearms—a bill that the NRA endorsed. But Stupak will probably leave the House before the current bill comes up for a vote, so we may not get a chance to see if he’d be willing to defy the gun lobby a second time around.

One More Thing

And it's a big one. Mother Jones is launching a new Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on the corruption that is both the cause and result of the crisis in our democracy.

The more we thought about how Mother Jones can have the most impact right now, the more we realized that so many stories come down to corruption: People with wealth and power putting their interests first—and often getting away with it.

Our goal is to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We're aiming to create a reporting position dedicated to uncovering corruption, build a team, and let them investigate for a year—publishing our stories in a concerted window: a special issue of our magazine, video and podcast series, and a dedicated online portal so they don't get lost in the daily deluge of headlines and breaking news.

We want to go all in, and we've got seed funding to get started—but we're looking to raise $500,000 in donations this spring so we can go even bigger. You can read about why we think this project is what the moment demands and what we hope to accomplish—and if you like how it sounds, please help us go big with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate