After cowardly Senators caved to the NRA and voted to defeat the Manchin-Toomey amendment to the gun safety bill allowing for near-universal background checks, a visibly angry President Obama took to his bully pulpit and spoke plainly about his disappointment and anger at the Senate.
But instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. They claimed that it would create some sort of “big brother” gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite. This legislation, in fact, outlawed any registry. Plain and simple, right there in the text. But that didn’t matter.
But the fact is most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn’t want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun. There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this. It came down to politics -- the worry that that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections. They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment.
And obviously, a lot of Republicans had that fear, but Democrats had that fear, too. And so they caved to the pressure, and they started looking for an excuse -- any excuse -- to vote “no.”
One common argument I heard was that this legislation wouldn’t prevent all future massacres. And that’s true. As I said from the start, no single piece of legislation can stop every act of violence and evil. We learned that tragically just two days ago. But if action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand -- if it could have prevented those people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future while preserving our Second Amendment rights, we had an obligation to try.
And this legislation met that test. And too many senators failed theirs.
I've heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory. And my question is, a victory for who? A victory for what? All that happened today was the preservation of the loophole that lets dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check. That didn’t make our kids safer. Victory for not doing something that 90 percent of Americans, 80 percent of Republicans, the vast majority of your constituents wanted to get done? It begs the question, who are we here to represent?
Then he laid down the gauntlet:
So to change Washington, you, the American people, are going to have to sustain some passion about this. And when necessary, you’ve got to send the right people to Washington. And that requires strength, and it requires persistence.
It just grinds me that the wingnuts in the NRA have enough power to cow Senators into voting against what the majority of people in this country want.
Here are the names of the Democrats voting no, excluding Harry Reid, who voted no to keep the bill alive: Pryor, Begich, Baucus, and Heitkamp. Republicans who voted yes: McCain, Toomey, Collins, and Kirk. Shame on the NRA-owned Democrats and props to the Republicans who stepped up.
That was just the background check piece. Here's what happened on the assault weapons ban:
An amendment, put forth by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), to re-establish a federal ban on certain assault weapons was defeated by a vote of 40-60. A near-united Republican conference voted against the measure, with just one GOP senator, Mark Kirk (Ill.), voting in its favor.
As the President said, this is just Round One.