Which Is More Out Of Control: The Proliferation Of Terror Guns Or Washington Itself?
-Jean-Paul Sartre (From Being And Nothingness)
On Monday, the U.S. Senate, having been shamed into it, was finally forced to vote on four gun-related measures. They were amendments to the Department of Justice spending bill, designed, not to ban guns or take guns away, as the right would have us believe, but to make it at least slightly more difficult for a potential killer, of any or no persuasion at all, to get a military grade assault rifle, a weapon of mass-destruction, in their hands. 60 votes were required to pass the measures. That didn’t happen. There was zero surprise in that. When it comes to dealing with America’s gun problem, the only true bipartisanship Washington can muster up is a 30 second moment of silence, and, of course, their prayers. How useful.
The four measures were:
1. A decidedly weak measure sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that would have promoted research on the causes of mass shootings and included an increase in funding to support background checks (if we ever got them). Grassley’s measure would not have added the increasing number of gun products to the list of weapons that should require such background checks. The vote for the Grassley measure was 53-47. The only Republicans who voted against Grassley’s proposal were Sen. Mark Kirk (IL) and Sen. Cory Gardner (CO). Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly (Blue Dog-IN) voted in favor.
2. The second measure was sponsored by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) who launched last week’s historic 15-hour filibuster that forced Republicans to agree to a vote on the measures. It would have expanded background check requirements to include internet and private sales, and, in fact, most sales of guns. Murphy’s more positive and proactive measure was voted down by a count of 56 to 44. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV), Heidi Heitkamp (ND) and Jon Testor (MT), chairman of the DSCC, joined with Republicans in defeating the Murphy measure.
3. A third measure, a relatively toothless one, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), was designed to allow law enforcement people at the federal level to delay gun sales to suspected terrorists, including those on no-fly and terrorist watch lists, for three days. Under Cornyn’s measure sales could be halted, but only if a judge ruled that there was probably cause to do so. This one failed 53 to 47. Republicans Mark Kirk (IL), Maine’s Susan Collins, and Arizona’s Jeff Flake voted against fellow Republican John Cornyn this time. Democrats Joe Manchin, who is really a Republican with a D next to his name, and Joe Donnelly joined up with the Republicans.
4. The fourth measure was sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). It would have given the U.S. Attorney General the power to halt sales to suspected terrorists, thus closing the "terror loophole." Under Feinstein’s measure, a person who is turned down in their attempt to purchase a gun could appeal to the Department of Justice. Feinstein’s plan lost 53 to 47. Thanks to the Republican majority, terrorists can continue to enjoy the great American freedom of over-the-counter assault rifle purchasing. Illinois Republican Mark Kirk and New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte, who are both fighting in very tough re-election campaigns, followed the polling and joined with the Democrats on this one. North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp joined with Republicans and voted against it.
The end result of the defeat of the four measures is that a person who is on a terrorist watch list or no-fly list will still be able to buy a handy, easy to use, weapon of mass-destruction. You can go buy one today, "no questions asked." There will be no change in the status of background checks.
Let’s look at it this way: If the horror of dead blood-splashed, bullet-shredded six year old boys and girls in Newtown, Connecticut didn’t motivate the Republican majority to vote for saner policies on gun proliferation, you didn’t really expect the sight of 49 dead gay and Latino people in a gay club in Orlando, Florida to move them, did you?
No, instead they just mouthed the tired script about how killers will always find a way to kill so, you know, why limit guns when they’d just find something else anyway. Well, yeah, I also believe that killers will always find a way but, unlike the Republican Party, I don’t think we should make it so easy for them and just hand them an instrument of mass destruction. Anyone can pull a trigger. Not everyone can build a bomb. Hell, they might even blow themselves up trying, like Sarah Palin’s secessionist buddy Joe Vogler did.
Righties will also tell you that a terrorist can kill you with a blade but comparing a knife to an AR-15 or the like may just be the ultimate false equivalency, at least until you can find someone who can dish out 600 to 1200 stab wounds per minute in a crowded club or theatre, or first grade classroom. Such is the “logic” that Republicans use to defeat sensible gun policies.
Republicans don’t just like guns. They worship gun culture. Assault rifles are Republican Viagra. The next time you see a crowd of obviously sexually insecure and sexually frustrated men on TV, shooting off their machine guns in the air and screaming at the top of their lungs about god and freedom, look closely, it may not be a scene of crazies from the Middle East. It’s just as likely that it’s a scene of Republican senators and representatives outside the U.S. Capitol building. We should call these people ammosexuals.
I’ve often thought that it was only a matter of time before some Republican politician somewhere started offering coupons for gun purchases in return for contributions to his or her campaign. Greg Evers, a candidate for Congress from the Florida Panhandle, no less, has come close. He is using an AR-15 giveaway to get people to his Facebook page, while people are still in critical condition in Orlando area hospitals.
Does it get anymore tasteless and insensitive? Even for a politician?
Republican $enators have once again chosen the dark side; the side they are comfortable with, not just morally but financially. What they have done is they have once again voted for their pocket books and not for the lives of their constituents. They are the puppets of the NRA and the gun makers. The NRA’s Chris Cox (see youtube clip above) has made it plain that the NRA will, once again, be spending millions in the upcoming election.
Mitch McConnell’s team has done this heinous and crooked act despite polls that show that even a large percentage of Republican voters, of all people, want at least some measure of positive action on our nation’s gun problems. Total national support for background checks is now at 92% with 86% of Republican voters in favor! So, ask this simple question: Just who are Republican $enators representing, and, just who are their House counterparts representing?
The only possible answer has nothing to do with the Constitution or representation of the people. No, the answer is the very best measure of the level of corruption that we have in Washington, DC. We all know; anyone with a tenth of a working brain knows, that our politicians are bought and sold.
It’s about the money, of course. When voters want their $enators and alleged representatives to do something smart about making it harder for crazies of all kinds to buy not just one but multiple assault rifles and all the ammo they can carry for those rifles, and yet, Washington does nothing but sit on its own thumbs, the gravy train of bribery money from the NRA and gun manufacturers has to be the biggest reason why the grief continues and continues. These are not good people. They are among the worst America has to offer.
Monday’s votes did not go the moral way. Even if they had, the measures were only a small start and the sign of the beast will still be strong with Republican senators.
Constituents supported the measures but cash from the NRA means so much more, when you are a bought and sold scumbag.
Since Orlando, Republicans have also taken the disingenuous approach of only talking about mass killings done by Muslims. They, like their NRA masters, have tried to make the Orlando massacre a political tool, blaming President Obama, “The government” and Hillary Clinton. As you can see again with the NRA’s Chris Cox in the Youtube clip from NRA News that I provided above, the Orlando massacre is being used not to address your local crazy getting his or her hands on an AR-15 but to try to drive Republican voters to the polls. The specter of HRC getting to name Supreme Court judges who might not do the NRA’s bidding is being raised non-stop.
One $enator, former Republican presidential candidate John McCain, didn’t blame inadequate gun policies for the Orlando massacre. Instead, he said President Obama directly caused the Orlando attack. He didn’t bother to mention that Obama’s predecessor got rid of the one man who was able to, however brutally, keep a lid on those who would become ISIS when we invaded Iraq on his lies.
Nor has McCain or any other Republican mentioned the death of the assault weapons ban. Mixed reviews of its effectiveness in reducing crime or not, the one thing that is certain is that a hell of a lot of assault weapons have been sold in this country since the ban was allowed to lapse under George W. Bush in 2004. ISIS has even told its followers to go to America because it’s now so easy to get an assault rifle.
Reinstating a ban might not prevent every attack. Assault rifles were banned in France but that didn’t stop the horror in Paris. But, again, why make it easy? Even if only 2 out of 10 attacks are stopped, that’s some American families that get spared a lot of lifelong grief.
Like the vast majority of his party colleagues, John McCain is not a profile in courage. He is not hero in politics. His legacy and that of his party will be that of failed and flawed weasels everywhere.
Republicans have failed to mention terror acts done by Christian extremists like Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh or Olympic bomber Robert Alan Rudolph, or those who have blown up clinics. There’s also been no mention from Republicans of the movie theatre killings in Aurora, Colorado or the countless other attacks on gay bars that Muslims had nothing to do with. One of those that comes to mind has to be the fire bombing of The UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans on June 24, 1973. 32 people died in that one.
As a contrast in character, here is a statement from another man who wishes he were President. Here’s Senator Bernie Sanders’ statement on the latest failure of the U.S. Senate to do the right thing.
Frankly, these Democratic amendments are no-brainers. It is incomprehensible to me, and I believe to the vast majority of Americans and I believe to the vast majority of Americans, as to why Republicans would oppose them.Senator Elizabeth Warren had this to say: "If we fail to act, the next time someone uses a gun to kill one of us, a gun that we could have kept out of the hands of a terrorist, then members of this Congress will have blood on our hands."
Senator Feinstein’s and Senator Murphy’s proposals are commonsense. In light of the terrible tragedies that have taken place in Orlando and other cities, it is not very hard to understand that terrorists or potential terrorists, criminals and the dangerously mentally ill should not have access to guns. We have got to do everything we can to stop guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them.
Sorry, Senator Warren. You are one of the few that I hold in high esteem, but Congress already has blood on its hands, lots of it.
A rational person has to ask: How many mass-shootings will it take before Washington does the right thing. Maybe the better question is not how many will it take but which victims will it take to change Washington. Would a crazed gunman shooting up NRA headquarters even if the staff “good guys” all had guns make a difference? One gets the idea that even a mad gunman attack in the Senate or House wouldn’t overcome the power of money in their corruption.
Perhaps the Republican Party should just borrow this quote from Sartre as a motto for their upcoming convention: “It is certain that we cannot escape anguish, for we are anguish.”