Putting Politics Before the Common Good

Four Democrats helped kill the gun reform legislation supported by nearly 90% of the American public yesterday in a 54-46 vote. Those Democratic Senators who voted against the Toomey-Manchin bill were: Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Max Baucus of Montana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, voted against the bill but that was for ‘procedural reasons’ in that in order to re-introduce the bill at a later date, as leader of the House he is required by rule to vote against it. Had Reid voted ‘yes’ and then the bill lost through lack of the requisite amount of support then, by Senate rules, he would not have been able to re-introduce bill in the future.

Senators who voted for and against gun control

Regardless of the procedural aspects one thing is clear: too many politicians have made it clear that they are far more interested in preserving their political office than doing what is best for their constituents. Party affiliation shouldn’t have mattered; this was about finding a way to ensure greater public safety and doing all we can to prevent another mass-shooting massacre. Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), in an op-ed piece in the New York Times said,

“Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

All citizens need to remember this when it comes time for re-elections; as President Obama said, this is a “Shameful day for Washington.” The problem is that while many of us see it as a truly shameful day, we also know that it was a day like nearly all others in that our elected officials did what’s best for special interest groups — those that are set on using fear to control the Senate — but not what’s best for the majority of their constituents. The National Rifle Association spent millions of dollars spreading false information about the bill, and some of the most vocal senators (I’m looking at you, Marco Rubio of Florida!) admitted that they hadn’t even read the very bill they were set to vote against.

Ms. Giffords further stated,

“I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.”

Yes, Ms. Giffords. It’s time for them to go. And they can take the fear-mongers of the NRA with them.