Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why Didn't The Democrats Pass Gun Control Legislation When They Took Over Congress?


Bad news for the NRA: Baca, Bloomberg, McLeod

74% of NRA members say there should be background checks before anyone is able to buy a gun. But the Republican congressional leadership sent out their most junior-- and only female-- member, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) to tell the media that the GOP will stop any attempts to pass any kind of meaningful gun control legislation. As we saw Friday, the NRA has almost every single House Republican on their payroll. And they pay off enough Blue Dogs and New Dems so that the efforts to derail legislation appears "bipartisan."
"We need to find out what happened and what drove this individual to this place," McMorris Rodgers said. "I think we have to be careful about new-- suggesting new gun laws. We need to look at what drives a crazy person to do these kind of actions and make sure that we’re enforcing the laws that are currently on the books. And yes, definitely, we need to do everything possible to make sure that something like this never happens again."
I hope Ms Rodgers gets to the bottom of what drives crazy people. I'd suggest she begin by delving into the minds of some of her colleagues, like Allen West (FL), Steve King (IA), Louie Gohmert (TX), Michele Bachmann (MN) and Virginia Foxx (NC). But she needs to understand that if West, King, Gohmert, Bachmann and Foxx finally explode into a frenzy of violence, if they have kitchen knives or scissors, there's a good chance they'll do less damage than if they have guns. (Bear in mind that when the Gambino Crime Family's congressman, Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm of Staten Island, had his first one-on-one-- and reportedly his last one-on-one-- with Speaker Boehner, he suggested that Boehner allow congressmembers to pack heart on the House floor. Boehner, who is well acquainted with West, King, Gohmert, Bachmann and Foxx, demurred.)

When the Democrats took over control of Congress in 2007 Carolyn McCarthy's legislation to reinstate the Assault Weapons ban (which had expired on March 2, 2004) had already been introduced. The Republican House leadership had already killed her bill twice by bottling it up in the Judiciary Committee, where it died. The first time she introduced it (2003), there were 111 co-sponsors, 109 Democrats and 2 Republicans (and, ominously, non of the Southern Blue Dogs). McCarthy tried again in 2005, this time with 94 co-sponsors, all Democrats, no Republicans and, again, no Southern Blue Dogs.

But when she introduced the bill on February 13, 2007, it wasn't Denny Hastert and Tom DeLay and John Boehner running the show any longer. It was Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer. The committee chairs were no longer all reactionary Republicans owned by the NRA. They were all Democrats, many of whom were long-standing NRA foes. But this time-- when the bill could obviously pass-- there were only 67 co-sponsors, only Democrats and only Members who actually wanted to pass the bill or look like they wanted to pass the bill to their constituents. Rahm Emanuel was still a sponsor, although last summer Jake Tapper reported the dual role-- like in duplicitous-- he tends to play on things like this.
On February 25, (2009) Jim Messina, Emanuel's deputy, walked into his boss's office to inform him of Holder's latest 'gaffe.' At a press conference earlier that day, Holder had told reporters that the administration would push to reinstate the assault-weapons ban, which had expired in 2004. The comments roused the powerful gun lobby and its water carriers on Capitol Hill. 'Senators to Attorney General: Stay Away from Our Guns' read a press release issued by Senator Max Baucus of Montana-a Democrat, no less.

"Emanuel was furious. He slammed his desk and cursed the attorney general. Holder was only repeating a position Obama had expressed during the campaign, but that was before the White House needed the backing of pro-gun Democrats from red states for their domestic agenda. The chief of staff sent word to Justice that Holder needed to 'shut the fuck up' on guns…"

The back story on this is important. Emanuel, as a congressman who chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (and as such helped recapture the House) came to understand that for many Democratic members of Congress is swing districts, supporting gun control was a liability. The "majority makers," as then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi came to call them, were often from rural or blue collar districts where the NRA was active.

But, regardless of Rahm's games, not only were there no Republicans and no Southern Blue Dogs, someone important dropped out. Steny Hoyer had signed on-- reluctantly-- as a cosponsor in 2003 and 2005. But in 2007... no Steny.

Steny had something more important in mind than passing an Assault Weapons Ban-- protecting Blue Dogs. A Judiciary Committee staffer told me that a decision was made by the whole leadership-- Pelosi, Hoyer, Clyburn, the DCCC to kill the bill in the Judiciary Committee, the same way the Republicans had. They said they couldn't afford to force Blue Dogs into voting on something that would kill their chances to be reelected. And that's why we don't have any gun control. McCarthy is going to try again and, she said, "the gloves are off." And she was talking about her attitude towards President Obama! And she had already informed the White House before the election about it. Speaking to Chief of Staff Jack Lew, she said, "I know the president is going through an election and I’m telling you after the election I’m coming out full force" and that if Democrats were going to be "embarrassed" so be it.
Embarrassing the White House, McCarthy said, meant building a large-scale public campaign to ban assault weapons. She pledged to continue to work with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others to build support for her cause.

“I want to talk to the White House. I know that they can’t give me an answer tonight, but I want to know what they’re going to do. I need to know what they’re going to do.”
Hoyer may want to save Blue Dogs-- the vast majority of them were defeated in 2010 and this year anyway-- but Mayor Bloomberg has them in his sites. No one thought there was any chance Blue Dog-- and gun nut/NRA patsy-- Joe Baca could possibly be defeated by another Democrat, Gloria McLeod. A week before the election, the race was on no one's radar. And then Independence USA PAC, entirely financed by Bloomberg (around $10,000,000 this year), dropped over $3,000,000 into the district-- in one week. And that was the end of Joe Baca. A safe Democratic seat, Baca moved there to be safer. Instead, he wound up losing to gun control supporter McLeod, 72,652 (56%) to 57,304 (44%). Bloomberg's PAC also spent $440,000 to defeat gun freak and teabagger Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY). Targeting Blue Dogs and teabaggers... what's not to like?

Saturday, House Democratic Caucus Chair, John Larson (D-CT) sent a letter to his colleagues asking them to get real on gun legislation. It's worth reading-- and supporting:

Yesterday our hearts were broken as we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in the history of Connecticut. The children and teachers whose lives were taken are in our thoughts and prayers and their families deserve space and privacy. They, along with the staff, first responders, and the community of Newtown deserve our continued support and prayers through this most difficult time. As a parent, the unspeakable fear has happened. May God help all those families get through.

President Obama is right. Friday was a day of mourning, but the time to act is now upon us. To do nothing in the face of continuous assaults on our children is to be complicit in those assaults. There may not be a single cure-all for the violence in our nation, however we must start the process and begin the deeper and longer conversations that need to take place. Politics be damned. Of the 12 deadliest shootings in our nation’s history, half of them have happened in the last five years. And there is not a single person in America who doesn’t fear it will happen again. It’s time we recognize the danger and address it.

It’s time for Members of Congress to act! Congress should be prepared to vote on requiring background checks for all gun sales, closing the terrorist watch list loopholes, and banning assault weapons and high capacity clips. Those measures don’t solve all our problems, but they’re a start. We also need to focus on our mental health care system. We need to support a better process for families and friends to share their concerns and fears with authorities about people’s mental status, and begin to invest in the human infrastructure needed for effective prevention programs that create healthy children. The pattern is clear- action must be taken. To do nothing in the face of pending disaster is to be complicit. It’s time to act. It’s time to vote.

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At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

when will we have alcohol control after all more people and kids die every year from DUI than from guns

At 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because they were far too busy trying to get healthcare legislation that 75% of America didn't want for those two years...


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