by Darryl Cherness
It is almost beyond human comprehension that the United States Senate could vote down legislation to expand gun background checks in light of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings and the massive support this legislation enjoyed with the American people. Polls showed that 90% of the American people supported expanded background checks for gun purchasers, but that didn’t matter to the 46 senators, including 5 Democrats who voted against this legislation(the Senate rigged the rules to require 60 votes to approve this bill). These 46 senators turned their backs on the American people, the families who lost loved ones to gun violence, and to their responsibility as senators to protect the safety of the people of this country.
We will hear all kinds of excuses from the apologists for those senators to justify their votes to sell out the American people and cave in to the gun lobby. We will hear that they had to vote this way because they came from “red states,” that the legislation violated people’s Second Amendment rights, and that criminals would find a way to get guns regardless of this legislation.
The bottom line is this: all of the arguments that have been raised by the gun lobby have absolutely no merit. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, one of the sponsors of this legislation, along with Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, comes from a red state, as does John McCain of Arizona. That didn’t stop them from supporting expanded background checks.
As for the Second Amendment argument, the Second Amendment does not guarantee the “right” of convicted felons or mentally ill persons who are a danger to themselves or others, to purchase guns. Allowing dangerous people who are a threat to society to purchase guns, was never the intent of our founding fathers.
Finally, the argument that this legislation should be voted down because it wouldn’t stop 100% of all prohibited purchasers from obtaining guns, is completely absurd. Using this logic, there should be no laws against murder since some individuals will commit murder even though it is against the law. While no law is perfect, this law has the potential to save thousands of lives by closing a major loophole in the existing law.
Right now, if you purchase a gun from a licensed gun dealer, you must undergo a background check. However, if you purchase that same gun at a gun show or online, there is no background check. 40% of all gun purchases in this country fall into these categories, allowing thousands of convicted felons and mentally ill people to obtain guns each year with no questions asked.
Where do we go from here? We must channel our anger and frustration into constructive action. We must continue to fight for expanded background checks. We must do everything in our power to defeat those senators (including Democrats) who voted against this legislation. Call your friends and relatives who live out of state and urge them to campaign against those senators, who voted the wrong way, when they stand for reelection.
In politics, there are no permanent defeats. We will go on, and ultimately we will succeed because we have the support of the American people.