GUEST COMMENTARY: Senate goes rogue, lobby given too much power on gun bill vote

Saturday, April 20, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Clearly something is wrong with American democracy when 54 U.S. senators go against the will of more than 90 percent of about 4,000 residents surveyed in Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania who support enhanced background checks for purchasers of guns.

This is happened yesterday when the Senate voted against the Manchin-Toomey amendment. The amendment proposes that "all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and provide a responsible and consistent background check process."

The outcome is so incredible because the amendment was so sensible.

Many people wanted it to be passed, including gun rights advocates. In fact, 90 percent support is almost unheard of in today’s political climate.

So, would it have been reasonable to expect the Senate to pass this bill? The answer should have been an unequivocal 'yes.'

But this bill would not pass, at least not in this Senate.

No, the formerly august body has given up its watchdog role on behalf of the American people. It now works as the lapdog of the National Rifle Association, which represents about 1.8 percent of eligible American voters.

What we have here with this vote is evidence, that should be crystal clear to all Americans of whatever political stripe, that the Senate today is a wholly-owned subsidiary of special interest money.

There is no other explanation but a gun lobby loaded with lots of cash for how the American people can be defeated when they outnumber special interest votes about 50 to 1.

Does anyone need further convincing that campaign finance reform is essential to the future health of our democracy? Of course, that fight will be like the gun fight in which the public will have to battle its own Congress to get its way.

And the fight should spill out onto the street at the ballot box.

Voters must dispel their apathy and act against this Senate that has demonstrated its utter contempt for the public good and the will of Americans. After all, this vote was not about guns. It was about money, plain and simple.

The NRA has purchased its friends in the Senate, but not even it has enough money to buy the votes of the Americans who supported the passage of this amendment.

Victims' families and proponents of sensible background checks can take comfort that their vote is more powerful than a gun or a special interest lobby. The Senate has gone rogue, so now it is time for the people throw the bums out.

So, throw them out, throw them out, throw them out in the next election.

In the meantime, until that election, let's not forget, let's not waver, and let's not be distracted. Let's just focus on throwing them out!

John Farmer de la Torre, is a graduate student and opinion writer at the Missouri School of Journalism.

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Mark Foecking April 21, 2013 | 4:30 a.m.

One reason this might have gotten voted down is it doesn't really change anything. It doesn't require background checks beyond what current laws do. What difference does it make if a person is listed in NICS but can still buy a gun at a gun show or be willed one in an inheritance? This bill would have been symbolic, nothing more. Like a lot of legislation we consider today...


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