April 18, 2013

What now?

I want to talk about the gun control legislation struck down by the Senate today.*

Embarrassing seems to be the only way to describe it. Truly embarrassing. Embarrassing for Republicans, Democrats and the gun lobbyists that killed this bill against all common sense. Embarrassing for any past or future victim of senseless gun crime.

I won’t pretend to know every detail of the bill or the implications that could have been massaged out had it passed. Instead I’ll use this quote.

Even a bipartisan amendment to impose stiff penalties on gun traffickers, which was supported by the N.R.A. and expected to be adopted by voice vote, instead was defeated, receiving 58 votes, as the partisan lines hardened.

A segment of the bill supported by both the Senate and the world’s most powerful gun lobby didn’t stand a chance. Balance that against this quote from a Reuters article.

The Manchin-Toomey background checks amendment allowed exemptions for private sales or gifts between families and friends and prohibited the creation of a national registry of guns. Polls show more than 80 percent of Americans support expanded background checks.

80% of Americans and at points a majority of Senators supported this bill. Still dead.

One last quote

“Criminals do not submit to background checks now,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa. “They will not submit to expanded background checks.”

I don’t think I risk exaggeration to summarize his statement thusly: Criminals don’t follow laws, so why create laws?

What’s happening here? How does a representative body of government ignore the stated will of 80% of the population? How many national tragedies must happen before that representative body considers action? What alternatives are there?

Anti gun control types often say that we should arms ourselves to prevent becoming victims. But I imagine no clearer definition of victimization than a country unwilling to ensure a safer future.

Apologies for the rambling. Still getting used to this opinion writing stuff. Join me next week as I shake my fist at teenagers playing loud rap music.

Since college I’ve tried to keep from posting politically or religiously sensitive topics. Journalistic ethics and whatnot. In the six months since leaving journalism I’ve carried that brand forward, partly from habit and partly from the unwillingness to prove to myself that the internet doesn’t forget. But this I can’t not speak on.

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