The utter gutlessness of the U.S. Senate

636013623448006991-1307615446_imageOn Monday, the Senate voted down four gun policy measures.

One bill would have closed the so-called terror gap. To read some concerns about using the war on terror to write gun legislation, go here. There is some concern that not everyone on the terror watch list belongs there, and taking away their right to bear arms is adding insult to injury. How about we fix what ever’s wrong with the list and then use it?

Another measure would have expanded background checks for the purchase of firearms online and at gun shows. The votes were not a surprise — the Republicans are a majority and Republicans tend to shy away from gun legislation (for more on that, go here or, what the hell, go here, to OpenSecrets.org) — but they were a disappointment. The vote came after a nearly 15-hour filibuster by Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, from Connecticut, and Sen. Cory Booker, of New Jersey. How did your senator vote? You can find out here.

From Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:

“Shame on every single senator who voted against these life-saving amendments and protected the rights of terrorists and other dangerous people to buy guns.”

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court decided not to hear a case that challenges the state of Connecticut’s ban on some semi-assault firearms and large-capacity magazines. That means Connecticut’s law stands. You can read more here. It’s going to be a loooong summer.

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4 responses to “The utter gutlessness of the U.S. Senate

  1. Even if it was possible to somehow reform the predictive judgment process used by the government to classify enemies of the State…which…face it…this government isn’t going to do…we still have to ask ourselves, “What good will it do?”. How is that going to change the the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction into the civilian population?

    Even if the current background check system could be expanded and reformed to remove ridiculous and self-defeating regulations like time limits, we have to ask ourselves those same questions.

    We are being manipulated…again…into believing these proposals, and others like them, are solutions to the existential threat to public health and safety posed by the proliferation of semiautomatic firearms with variable capacity removable magazines into the civilian market. Political theater manipulates us into believing a corrupt Congress and Party leadership are genuinely concerned in enacting reforms Americans want when quite the opposite is true.

    • So, Leftover. What’s it take to reduce gun violence? I’m all for studying this and I accept the science behind it but oh! Wait! THERE ISN’T ANY. There hasn’t been any significant research into gun violence since 1996, when the blood-gargling NRA said to stop it. And Congress did.

      • Reducing “gun violence” is near to impossible in a country wallpapered with guns. However, gun homicide rates are down. Gun suicide rates are up slightly. Firearm victimizations are up slightly. All resulting in a fairly steady rate of gun violence over the last 15 years or so.

        What is driving the call for gun law reform is the increase in mass public killings…like Orlando…not gun violence generally. The weapon of choice of most perpetrators of mass public killings is the semiautomatic firearm with variable capacity removablemagazines. While it may not be possible to reduce gun violence further, while it may no longer be possible to enact a categorical ban on semiautomatic firearms, it is within the realm of possibility to outlaw manufacture and civilian possession of semiautomatic firearms with variable capacity removable magazines. It’s not a cure-all by any means, but it would work to abate the damage potential…the risk to public health and safety…of homicidal maniacs.

        It doesn’t take a federal bureaucracy to see that there’s just two things that turn a conventional semiautomatic firearm in common civilian use into a weapon of mass destruction. Those characteristics have nothing to do with cosmetics (style), power (velocity), accuracy, or rapid fire potential (trigger action). They are magazine capacity and magazine portability…the ability to, within seconds, eject a spent magazine, regardless of size, and replace it, allowing for no effective interruption in weapon discharge.

        If you want a reduction in victimizations caused by mass public killing, start with the core issue…the weapon. Weapons don’t have civil liberties. And the precedent for restricting civilian ownership of weapons with characteristics and modifications that pose unusually dangerous threats to public health and safety already exists. And has just been reinforced by the SCOTUS decision not to undertake Shew v. Malloy.

        We have to ask ourselves more questions: Why Congressional lawmakers, Party leadership, and even some gun control activists, continually focus on the person instead of the weapon. Especially when it’s been proven…over and over and over again…that it’s completely ineffective. And why when Congressional lawmakers, Party leadership and even gun control advocates, actually do turn their focus to the weapon, they are ineffective in addressing the overall threat those characteristics, in combination, pose to public health and safety. (Limiting magazine capacity alone cannot effectively reduce the potential for mass victimization.)

        If we want to reduce gun violence, the first thing we have to do is to communicate to Washington, and gun control advocacy groups, that we will no longer be manipulated by a system that does not respond, in any reasonable fashion, to threats to public health and safety when it comes to firearms.

        Connecticut’s law is a good first step. As was California’s…until San Bernardino.

      • Also….

        Kathy Kiely at Moyers reports that as of Monday, the NRA has $14.7 million dollars in its war chest. It’s already spent $2 million supporting incumbent Republicans in the Senate. Of the $700,000 it’s raised just this year, 87% has come from small donors in lots of $200 dollars or less. Until gun control advocacy groups can unite and match…or better…that type of grassroots support, you’re never going to see any change in Congress. In order to do that, they’re going to need a unified agenda that people can support wholeheartedly. Not only with their money, but with their time and their votes. Proposals designed to pass judicial scrutiny. Proposals designed to stem the carnage of mass public killings.

        Unified gun control advocacy is also going to need more deep pockets. Bloomie alone cannot cut it. The NRA well of corporate support is just too deep. (I use the Moyers link here because the advertising and all its trackers at MoJo’s newly redesigned website are completely out of control.) Gun control advocacy is too factionalized and too influenced by Democratic Party “As Good As It Gets” politics, and the gatekeeping that goes along with it.

        Gun control advocacy needs a new unified agenda and the money to back it up.

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