Senate acted shamefully on gun control

Killings of 20 children, 6 educators meant nothing when it came time to vote
2013-04-19T00:00:00Z Senate acted shamefully on gun control Arizona Daily Star
April 19, 2013 12:00 am

The following editorials appeared Thursday:

In the end, the slaughter of 20 children and their six brave caretakers in Newtown, Conn., did nothing: nothing to weaken the stranglehold the gun industry has on Congress or to strengthen our shoddy patchwork of laws to protect the innocent.

It's a dark day for America.

On Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Senate rejected a carefully crafted compromise that would have tightened the background-check system, which now allows as many as 40 percent of guns to be purchased without determining whether the buyer is mentally ill or a felon.

Recent polls have shown up to 90 percent of the American public supports this provision.

Apparently, several hundred million Americans are no match for the multimillion-dollar gun lobby.

The National Association for Gun Rights sells T-shirts with the phrase, "Firearms Anywhere and Everywhere."

Groups like this are helping to determine how the nation should respond to the epidemic of gun violence that kills more than 30,000 people a year.

The background-check provision got 54 votes, a majority, in the Senate, but it failed because the Republican minority has made 60 votes the requirement to advance controversial legislation. Democrats have allowed the minority to rule in these matters, but in this case four Democratic senators joined in the filibuster. National Rifle Association money crosses party lines.

Multiple other gun-safety measures also failed, including an assault-weapons ban and limits on high-capacity magazines. A measure that would have expanded gun rights actually got four more votes than the background-check provision.

So the Senate has decided that no federal response is needed to the massacre in Newtown - none at all.

No wonder President Obama, standing with former Rep. Gabby Giffords and families of the Newtown victims in the Rose Garden, was visibly angry as he called Wednesday a "shameful day for Washington" and called out the gun lobby for lying about gun-safety legislation.

The Senate gallery was filled with victims, family members and friends involved in recent gun massacres, including in Newtown, Tucson and Virginia Tech.

One was Patricia Maisch, who helped end Jared Lee Loughner's shooting rampage in January 2011 that gravely wounded Giffords. Maisch was among those who shouted "Shame on you!" after the background-check measure failed and were then ushered out of the chamber.

Advocates like Maisch have worked tirelessly to ensure the victims of gun violence are not forgotten.

They are not the ones who should be forced from the halls of Congress.

- San Jose Mercury News

Senate on gun control was cowardly, contemptible

The U.S. Senate's handling of a gun-safety package was cowardly and contemptible.

With a series of procedural votes, most Republican senators and a handful of Democrats opted Wednesday afternoon to not even debate modest gun-safety measures.

They included a bipartisan bill to close the loophole that allows people to purchase weapons at gun shows without a background check.

Proposals to limit the size of gun magazines and to ban some of the most deadly assault weapons were also struck down without debate.

"All in all, this was a pretty shameful day in Washington," President Obama said in a news conference.

A very shameful day.

What kind of a governing body responds to a national crisis by refusing to even discuss it openly and publicly?

On the background-check measure, 54 senators voted to advance the bill, 46 voted against.

"The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill," said Obama, standing beside Giffords and in the presence of families of gun victims.

That is true. The background-check bill was not an infringement on anyone's Second Amendment rights.

It was a compromise attempt to do something to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.

"This effort is not over," Obama said.

It is not.

The first step must be reminding obstructionist senators at every chance that almost nine of 10 Americans support universal background checks.

Hold these politicians accountable for failing that majority, including families that have already paid the highest price for America's gun problem.

-The Kansas City Star

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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