Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Senate's Gun Fail

It says something extraordinarily shameful about our polity when even a toothless, watered-down attempt at gun legislation such as the one that went before the Senate yesterday couldn't even get a vote. This legislation, featuring as its centerpiece a wishy-washy, "better than nothing" attempt at expanded background checks negotiated by two conservatives (Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Pat Toomey), was foiled -- like so many bills before it -- by a Republican-led filibuster, this one joined by four Dems and powered by a disinformation campaign from, who else, the NRA.

I don't know if this defeat signals the death knell for some meaningful attempt at addressing this very real problem, but it sure does make it a lot harder to feel like our so-called representatives are truly representing us when something like expanding background checks for gun buyers, which has better than 90% support
from the public (including majorities of both Republicans and gun owners), fails thanks to procedural maneuvers that keep our legislators' hands clean while they're cowed by influential lobbyists. How'd that "gentlemen's agreement" work out, Harry?

There were cries of "Shame on you!" from the gallery yesterday as the legislation fell, but that feeling of disgust is shared by a great many people this morning (including President Obama). One person with a very personal stake in this fight who's feeling especially disgusted is former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, whose career in government was cut short after an encounter with a gunman just over two years ago. Ms. Giffords charts the course ahead in a powerful op-ed for the New York Times, in which she also lambasts the inaction of the "greatest deliberative body in the world":
Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on. 
I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.
Read the rest at the link. If you're not seriously irked yet, you're not paying attention. While this fight continues, it's hard not to feel disheartened by this disgrace of a defeat. Let's see what happens next.

No comments: