"Moments ago, the U.S. Senate decided to do the unthinkable about gun violence --- nothing at all." -- former U.S. congresswoman (and assassination victim) Gabrielle Giffords.
54-46, or fight. That's the way it went down in the U.S. Senate today on the most tame of all possible gun-sanity measures, requiring background checks at venues such as the gun shows where so many firearms sales take place. Just as most Americans agree that the First Amendment is not a right to yell "fire!" in a crowded theater, most Americans -- 91 percent the last time I checked -- don't think the Second Amendment is right to sell lethal weapons to criminals or to people who are mentally ill.
Apparently 46 senators gutless cowards who should be publically shamed and shunned any time they try to show their face in public believe it's their job to speak for the other 9 percent...and for the NRA and its money.
A couple of things. In politics, today's loser is tomorrow's winner...ask Nelson Mandela how that works. Within weeks of the Newtown massace, it was clear that serious gun sanity would not come with the current crew in Washington. If you want legislation that will reflect the will and desires of the American people, out-NRA-the-NRA, and give your time and money to defeat or replace these doomed dinosaurs in somewhat moderate states (which voted for Obama in '08 or in '12 or both) -- Grassley of Iowa, Ayotte of New Hampshire, Burr of North Carolina, Coates of Indiana, Heller of Nevada, Johnson of Wisconsin. Portman of Ohio, and Rubio of Florida. That (plus Harry Reid, who voted "no" for procedural reasons) gets you to 63 votes. But it also takes years. That's the reality here.
Is there something wrong with a nation where 46 percent of the senators representing states with maybe 35 percent of the population or less can support a view held by just 9 percent of the American people, and win? I'd say so, but I won't pretend to know an easy solution to that.
How many murders would be prevented by better background checks? It's hard to say -- they may have deterred the shooters at Virginia Tech and in Aurora, for example -- but there's no way you can argue it would be less than the three who died senselessly in Boston on Monday. You and I would move heaven and earth to bring those people back, but 46 cowards in Washington could not lift their now-blood-stained finger to save more lives than that, at no cost to anyone's rights. After the vote today, Patricia Maisch -- the woman who stopped Tucson killer Jared Loughner's killing spree -- shouted on the Senate floor, "Shame on you!"
I would not have been so kind. 54-46 or fight? That's not even a question.