Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Craven, Cynical and Shameful

Yesterday, Senator Harry Reid indicated he will be bringing a bill aimed at applying gun control regulations, principally in the form of expanding background checks and criminalizing gun trafficking. Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY announced he would be joining 13 other Republican Senators in filibustering any such legislation.  Mr. McConnell's spokesman said: "While nobody knows yet what Senator Reid's plan is for the gun bill, if he chooses to file cloture on the motion to proceed to the Reid Bill (S.649), Senator McConnell will oppose cloture on proceeding to that bill."

OK, so what McConnell said essentially was he would join the 13 other Republican Senators who have already said they will filibuster any additional gun legislation.  That means he will work with his comrades to not let the bill get to floor of the Senate for a vote.  A vote.  They are scared of a vote.

I have always been of the mind that legislation should always have an up or down vote. Why you may ask?  Well, for one thing it is a waste of time for legislation to be written, get through committee and then simply die because a senator or group of senators disagree with it.  That is not representative government. It is tyranny of the minority.  I have disagreed with the filibuster since I first understood what it was about.  It slows down an already glacial process of getting laws passed and makes a dysfunctional organization such as the US Congress even more so.   Debate?  Sure.  Argue until your heart is content on the policy, on the merits, on the efficacy of the bill.  But, then go vote on it.   Elected officials are sent to Washington,  their statehouses, their county and municipal offices to do the people's bidding.  Not the bidding of an interest group, not a lobbyist, but the American people. Time after time, for reason after reason, the US Congress has prostituted itself to monied interest over the welfare of the citizenry.

This particular issue on gun legislation has me more upset than usual at the ship of fools that comprises the US Congress.  The reason for it is this:  The gun legislation that Senator Reid wants to bring to the floor is already watered down and won't include an assault weapons ban or a ban on high-capacity clips or magazines.  The rationale for this is it wouldn't pass a vote. OK, I get pragmatism and understand that Reid is trying to get something on the floor that has a high probability of passage.  Even still, closing the gun-show and Internet sales loophole on background checks that comprise 40% of all gun sales in this country and tightening up straw-purchases (purchasing large quantities of firearms to sell on secondary markets or purchasing for someone else) does nothing but make sense.   Currently, if you or I walk into a store that sells guns, they are required by law to do a background check.  I've purchased guns before and the check takes all of 10-15 minutes tops.  Less time than it takes to go get your Driver's license renewed by the way, and I don't hear people wailing about the infringement on their freedoms in that regard.  But, I digress.  This group of 14 senators have decided for whatever reason to not even let a bill as logical and reasonable as that to the floor. 

Why?  Well, for starters they are cowards.  They are afraid of the NRA. They are afraid of primary challenges from some lunatic who thinks it should be OK to go by any gun you want any time you want (Are you listening Ted Cruz?).  They are afraid that if they voted against a bill such as this it would come back to haunt them because reasonable people would likely decide they are a bunch of nuts and would vote against them next time around.  Voting for the bill would inflame the righties, so they would just as soon not have the vote come up at all.  That way, they can claim to whomever is asking that they are against gun-violence and something should be done, but never have to put any skin in the game and stand up for what 90% of the American people want, which is the extension of a law already on the books to cover the 40% of gun sales that aren't included now in background checks.  How pathetic.

Don't get me started on Senator's Cruz and Paul's contention that the background checks are diminishing the 2nd Amendment. That is sheer idiocy. Why? Well, for one thing background checks are law right now, and have never been challenged on their constitutionality.  Why? Well, it wouldn't even make it to the Supreme Court, because as Anton Scalia, no liberal justice himself stated in the Heller opinion, that the government has the right to limit arms sales even while the right of the people to bear arms for defense, etc. is constitutional.   So, it is foolish to stand on the "diminishing freedoms" argument like Cruz and Paul are doing. 

The issue of "diminishing freedoms" is a red herring, best left to conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones who are dead set in their beliefs that the government is just waiting for the right time to round up all of us and put us into FEMA camps.  No reasonable citizen in this country believes this nonsense and for US Senators to play up to the fears of the insipid and ignorant is shameful.

I don't care if you buy a weapon. I care if that weapon is used dangerously, or if it is stolen.  I care if it falls into the hands of a lunatic like Adam Lanza.  I care if I can't go to a movie anymore without thinking that it is entirely possible that a crazy person like James Holmes might break in and start spraying the movie theatre with semi-automatic weapon fire. I care if my youngest daughter can't go to her class at college without thinking that a mentally disturbed kid might break in and start shooting up the classroom like the Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook killings.   Your rights to weapons do not supersede my right to life.  It doesn't supersede the kids who live in West Dallas, South Chicago, Compton, or anywhere that there is massive gun violence because of gangs.  Guess where these guys get most of their weapons?  Not from gun stores who do criminal background checks I can assure you.

It is high time we put an end to this madness of the belief that if we implement stronger gun control laws that somehow the Republic will fall.  We had an assault weapons ban from 1994 - 2003 and surprisingly, no black helicopters came, no concentration camps were filled and no one really had their rights infringed.   What did happen?  Well, we say a reduction in mass killings like Sandy Hook.  So don't tell me that better legislation won't have an impact because it will and it has.

As to the filibuster of this legislation, the fourteen senators have shown what they are made of:  Jello.  They are craven in their fear of not keeping their jobs.  To me that is justification enough to remove them from their jobs.  And Senator Harry Reid, you had a chance to change the rules on the filibuster when the new Congress started and you didn't.  You indicated you had a "handshake deal" that the Republican minority wouldn't abuse the filibuster.  You got taken.  You got bamboozled.  You got played.    This is your fault as much as it is these lily-livered senators who will filibuster a piece of legislation that is sorely needed and now will likely never come to a vote.  Not even a vote.  Shame on you Harry Reid.

I'm pretty mad about this folks.  It is unconscionable for the Congress to keep screwing over the American People.  If you feel like I do that this is the height of irresponsible behavior, call or write your representatives and senators and tell them so.  If you don't, if you think these fourteen are for some unfathomable reason to me doing the right thing, I would just say this:  Get pictures of those children killed in Sandy Hook and look at them. Think of the birthdays, the marriages, the anniversaries that will never come. Think of the events as simple as going to a ball game or going to school that they will never experience again. Think if it was one of your kids.  What would you say to that?

Tell me what you think.


1 comment:

  1. Good stuff Dennis - it's a tough issue but the lunatics at both ends of the argument make it even more difficult. It sure would be refreshing to have some sanity and reason injected into the discussion. Cruz and his cohorts are a scary bunch.