Sandy Hook Promise
I Promise to honor the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
I Promise to do everything I can to encourage and support common sense solutions that make my community and our country safer from similar acts of violence.
I took the Sandy Hook Promise weeks ago. I’ve written about the need for changes to our gun policies several times since then. I’ve talked with and debated people about the need to expand background checks, prohibit high-capacity ammunition magazines and adequately fund mental health services. Given that no less than 90 percent of Americans support requiring background checks before firearms can be purchased, I thought for sure we would finally see some sound public policy emerge from Washington, that the gun lobby would finally know how it feels to lose. We’ve lost innocent people, including kids. We’ve lost our sense of security and our peace of mind. It’s about time the National Rifle Association (NRA) experienced a loss, albeit legislative and not human, I thought.
I forgot how thoroughly f*cked up our political process is.
Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Senate voted 54-46 on a bipartisan amendment known as Toomey-Manchin that would have expanded background checks. Since 60 votes were needed for passage, the amendment died – and so did my already-diminished belief that when push comes to shove, our public officials are going to do the right thing.
Senators Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, tried to do the right thing. They bucked the gun lobby and brainless Second Amendment zombies, took a stand, gave it a shot. It was risky, of course, but they proposed to increase the reach of background checks to cover sales of weapons on the Internet and at gun shows anyway.
But as family members of Newtown and Tucson victims watched from the gallery, the will of the people was thwarted by spineless scoundrels and misguided morons who seemed to hold NRA chief Wayne LaPierre in higher esteem than Charlotte Bacon, 6; Daniel Barden, 7; Olivia Engel, 6; Josephine Gay, 7; Ana Marquez-Greene, 6; Dylan Hockley, 6; Madeline Hsu, 6; Catherine Hubbard, 6; Chase Kowalski, 7; Jesse Lewis, 6; James Mattioli, 6; Grace McDonnell, 7; Emilie Parker, 6; Jack Pinto, 6; Noah Pozner, 6; Caroline Previdi, 6; Jessica Rekos, 6; Avielle Richman, 6; Benjamin Wheeler, 6; Allison Wyatt, 6; Rachel D'Avino, 29; Anne Marie Murphy, 52; Lauren Rousseau, 30; Mary Sherlach, 56; Victoria Soto, 27; Dawn Hocksprung, 47; Christina Taylor Green, 9; Dorothy "Dot" Morris, 76; John Roll, 63; Phyllis Schneck, 79; Dorwan Stoddard, 76; Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Jonathan Blunk, 24; Alexander J. Boik, 18; Jesse Childress, 29; Gordon Cowden, 51; Jessica Ghawi, 24; John Larimer, 27; Matt McQuinn, 27; Micayla Medek, 23; Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6; Alex Sullivan, 27; Alexander C. Teves, 24; and Rebecca Wingo, 32.
In addition to these people – the victims of Newtown, Tucson and Aurora – LaPierre also ranks higher, apparently, than their hundreds of family members, friends, co-workers and acquaintances who surely still grieve and always will. (The NRA pays the guy just under $1 million/year to pervert the political process. Nice work if you can get it, huh?)
The four Democrats who voted “no” and will hopefully sleep poorly for the duration of their terms are Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Mark Begich (D-AK), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV] also voted “no” but his was a procedural vote in order to be able to bring the matter back up again.)
I take small comfort in knowing that Michigan’s two Democratic senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, voted “yes” and were joined by Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois and John McCain of Arizona as well as co-sponsor Pat Toomey. (Trying to earn that “Maverick” moniker again, Senator McCain?)
But after the vote, one pro-gun website posted, “Misfire! Gun control supporters missed the mark as their best hope for further gun control failed when the Senate defeated the Toomey-Manchin bill. Boo hoo.” Another one boasted, “The defeat of this bill should more or less kill gun control for the immediate future in Congress.”
That’s b*llsh*t. As President Obama – who gave a blunt, impassioned, memorable speech right after the vote – said, this is just Round One. (For the video and transcript of the president’s remarks, click here.) The gun nuts might have won this battle but the 90 percent of Americans not represented by Congress yesterday will win this war. Yes, the gun lobby is strong, politicians are weak and corrupt and the electorate is impotent and irresponsible. This will change. Mark my words.
This isn’t about the right to keep and bear arms. This is about our right to life – something politicians claim to respect but thumbed their noses at yesterday.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence issued the following statement after yesterday’s vote:
“This is an insult to the 90 people killed by gun violence every day and the 90 percent of Americans who believe that felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerous mentally ill should not be able to buy guns without a background check, no questions asked. The Senate failed to pass something that virtually all Americans support and would undoubtedly make this a safer nation. It is unfathomable that a Senator could sit across the table from a Newtown parent who lost a child, and then days later vote against this amendment. We will not give up in this fight and we should not lose sight of the progress we have made. That we have come this far only strengthens our resolve to make the American public heard until we can make the Congress listen. And we will work to make sure that those Senators who refuse to represent the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans on this crucial issue are replaced with others who will.
Click here to read Gabrielle Giffords’ staggeringly powerful New York Times op-ed entitled, “A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip.”
Sources: Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Washington Post, gunssavelives.net, WTNH.com, MSNBC.com, National Rifle Association, Talking Points Memo, New York Times.