Could it have been clearer? The United States is being held hostage by the National Rifle Association, which has enough senators in its deep pockets to block even the most basic attempt at meaningful gun control.
President Obama called the Senate’s capitulation yesterday “pretty shameful.” Make that totally, horrendously shameful. Just two days after carnage in Boston, the US Senate had not had enough death. Instead, it ensured that there’ll be more Newtowns, more kids mown down, more “senseless tragedy.” In fact the Senate has essentially written the script for it.
Since a few readers seem to think that I get “too angry” at times — Zen meditation never was my thing — I’d like to point out that the New York Times praised Obama for his evident anger, and that the lead editorial in today’s paper is very close to my current anger level. Titled “The Senate Fails Americans,” here’s how it begins:
For 45 senators, the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School is a forgotten tragedy. The toll of 270 Americans who are shot every day is not a problem requiring action. The easy access to guns on the Internet, and the inevitability of the next massacre, is not worth preventing.
Those senators, 41 Republicans and four Democrats, killed a bill on Wednesday to expand background checks for gun buyers. It was the last, best hope for meaningful legislation to reduce gun violence after a deranged man used semiautomatic weapons to kill 20 children and six adults at the school in Newtown, Conn., 18 weeks ago. A ban on assault weapons was voted down by 60 senators; 54 voted against a limit on bullet magazines.
Patricia Maisch, who survived a mass shooting in Tucson in 2011, spoke for many in the country when she shouted from the Senate gallery: “Shame on you.”
Newtown, in the end, changed nothing; the overwhelming national consensus to tighten a ridiculously lax set of gun laws was stopped cold. That’s because the only thing that mattered to these lawmakers was a blind and unthinking fealty to the whims of the gun lobby.
Polls show that an ever-increasing majority of Americans — 86% just last week –want at least proper background checks for those who buy guns online or at gun shows, yet the Senate denied even this most elementary precaution. Which means that this Senate does not represent the will of the people. Only that of the NRA.
It’s now up to voters to exact a political price from those who defied the public’s demand, and Mr. Obama was forceful in promising to lead that effort. Wednesday was just Round 1, he said; the next step is to replace those whose loyalty is given to a lobby rather than the people.
“Sooner or later, we are going to get this right,” he said. “The memories of these children demand it, and so do the American people.”
Politicians think we’ll forget. Let’s not. Senators are for re-election in 2014, and again in 2016, and again in 2018. And our responsibility as citizens is to make sure that every single one of those nay-saying bums who have sold their souls in order to stay in office is booted right on out of office.
In the meantime, I suggest they sponsor a mental-health-care bill, since one is evidently badly needed — for themselves: