Currently, somewhere between 20% and 40% of all gun purchases in the United States take place without a background check designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those suffering from mental illness. Recognizing this makes no sense, two pro-gun senators, Joe Manchin III (D-West Virginia) and Patrick Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) offered an amendment to the gun bill the Senate is considering to close this loophole and expand background checks to most gun sales.
According to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, 9 in 10 Democrats, more than eight in 10 Republicans and independents, and almost nine in 10 Americans who live in households with guns backed their proposal, most of them strongly.
Yesterday 55 members of the Senate voted to support the proposal while 45 members voted against it. (One Senator, Majority Leader Harry Reid, supported the proposal, but switched his vote to no at the last moment to preserve the option of revisiting the issue at some point in the future).
But even though the proposal to close the gun loophole garnered a majority of the votes cast, it died because in the bizarre universe known as the United States Senate 60 votes were required to pass the proposal.
The yeas are 55. The nays are 45. The amendment is defeated! And you wonder why Americans hold their elected representatives in such contempt?
There were plenty of cowards on this vote. All but four Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John McCain of Arizona, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — voted against expanded background checks; and of those four, only Mark Kirk also supported proposals to regulate assault weapons and limit large capacity ammunition clips.
You can find out how your Senator voted on these critical proposals by following the links I’ve provided above.
The most notable Democratic cowards were Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. They voted against closing the gun background check loophole and the other two measures as well.
But there were plenty of other Democratic cowards like Mark Warner of Virginia who voted against regulating assault weapons and limiting large capacity ammunition clips; and a couple of Democratic mini-heroes like Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana who at least supported expanded background checks.
Both are up for reelection next year in conservative, Republican leaning, states, and will undoubtedly be targeted for defeat by the National Rifle Association.
In the end, these common sense gun proposals were brought down by the Senate’s nothing people, ciphers who insist there is nothing that can be done to prevent gun violence like the massacre of the innocents in Newtown, Connecticut.
The nothing people find fault with every proposal put forward to address the problem of gun violence in America. They tell us that background checks will no nothing to stop gun violence; that an assault weapons ban will do nothing; that limiting the size of magazine clips will do nothing; and then they cravenly vote to do nothing themselves because they are ciphers.
Ask them their solution to the problem of gun violence and they have nothing to offer except perhaps putting more guns in more hands in more places, in schools, in churches, anywhere really except the U.S. Capitol, of course, because Congress has one set of rules for itself and another for you and me.
The Senate’s nothing people speak self-righteously about how nothing must be done that would regulate the second amendment rights of gun owners. But what about the right of six and seven year old boys and girls to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?” What can be done to protect their rights?
Ah, but you see, those six and seven year olds don’t vote. They don’t contribute to political campaigns. So nothing can be done to protect their rights, at least according to the Senate’s nothing people.
Children must be allowed to die so that gun owners can avoid any inconvenience in their lives; so insecure men can play with killing toys that tell us everything about their pathetic notions of masculinity — and everything as well about their lack of human decency.
The nothing people are bad enough and what they did yesterday was obscene. Even more obscene is that a proposal to regulate assault weapons garnered only 40 votes, a proposal to limit the size of magazine clips only secured the backing of 46, and even a proposal supported by the National Rifle Association to impose stiff penalties on gun traffickers could not secure the 60 votes needed to be adopted.
In the end, Americans get the leaders they choose. In the end, the blame also rests with every American who sat silent for the past four months and did nothing. There are many, many people in this country who will have blood on their hands the next time there is a gun massacre in America. But certainly, if there was a just and all powerful god, there would be a special place reserved in Hell for the Senate’s nothing people.
Former Representative Gabby Giffords put it well: “Over two years ago, when I was shot point-blank in the head, the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing. Four months ago, 20 first-graders lost their lives in a brutal attack on their school, and the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing. It’s clear to me that if members of the U.S. Senate refuse to change the laws to reduce gun violence, then we need to change the members of the U.S. Senate.” You can read more here.
Just don’t count on it happening anytime soon because the Senate’s nothing people are only the tip of the iceberg. There are millions of Americans who should take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves what they did these last four months to help end gun violence in America.
Am I angry? You bet.
To the Senate’s nothing people — people like Chuck Grassley, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Max Baucus, Mark Begich, Heidi Heitkamp, Mark Pryor, and Mark Warner, among others — I have a simple message.