Thursday, April 18, 2013

Machin-Toomey and Senate-Shaming

There was a hot second after Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) agreed to co-sponsor a gun control bill with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.VA) that I thought, "hey, that's really big of you Toomey."  This was a literal second and it did - as all seconds do - end quickly.  Toomey's reasoning behind being able to support this so-called gun-control bill was that it wasn't to do with limiting guns or magazine sizes, it deals with background checks.  Toomey says background checks aren't really gun control, therefore even as a Republican he can support them.

Well, the background checks in this bill certainly aren't gun control.  Saturday Night Live said it best...

According to The Huffington Post:
"The language has not been finalized. But talks have centered on exempting gun sellers whose businesses are located far from a federal firearms licensee -- perhaps outside a 100-mile radius -- from performing background checks on gun buyers."
Apparently the concern is that requiring background checks for all gun purchases would be overly burdensome on rural gun owners.  While we're at it, why don't we exempt people in isolated rural areas from having to take driver's tests or registering their cars.  I mean, I know I have always found the DMV to be a total pain.  If only I had known that the answer was simply to move so far beyond convenience that the federal government would stop requiring me to make an effort I'd be living in a cabin in the middle of nowhere by now.

It's ludicrous that these sorts of exceptions are even being considered when they certainly aren't considered under any other circumstances.

And now it seems we have confirmed the total cowardice of several Senate Democrats, not to mention the complete disregard for facts from Senators like Ted Cruz.  In case you're interested in the Democrats who voted against the Manchin-Toomey bill, they are:

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D. ND)
Senator Max Baucus (D. MT)
Senator Mark Pryor (D. AR)
Senator Mark Begich (D. AK)

I've linked the contact forms from their websites.  Please feel free to contact them and let them know what a gigantic disappointment they've been.

Four Republicans did vote for Manchin-Toomey.  Toomey, of course, voted for it.  His name's on it, after all.  In a moment of common sense, John McCain (R-AZ) voted for the bill, as did Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).

I can't say that I'm surprised that this bill didn't pass.  With the stunning lack of filibuster reform (Thanks, Harry Reid), the now necessary 60 votes makes the Senate effectively rule by minority.  Somehow an actual super-majority of Americans (including gun owners) backing expanded background checks does not translate to their Senators actually voting in a way representative to the population.  It may seem like tons of Americans are against gun control, but that is most definitely not the case.  It's just that people against gun control of any kind of extremely loud.

Let's be extremely clear, though, the Manchin-Toomey bill specifically excluded the idea of a gun registry (although, yeah, we should have one).  This bill was about background checks.  It was about making sure that when you purchase a gun, there is a record of that purchase.  It may not be a particularly effective record, but it should exist.  No matter where you live, no matter who you're selling to, a background check is the absolute minimum of oversight that needs to occur.  Even the majority of gun owners would agree with this.

Much like our President, I am thoroughly disgusted with what happened.  Still, as he said, the fight isn't over. If unreasonable people are going to scream lies and misinformation then reasonable people need to speak more loudly and stand more firmly for reasonable positions.