If there was ever a moment that symbolized the difference between the power of public opinion and the strength of a concerted minority, it came Wednesday when the Senate defeated a bipartisan measure to expand background checks on gun purchases...Business Week:
Obama’s description — “a pretty shameful day for Washington” — captured the moment and summed up the frustrations that many ordinary Americans long have expressed about the capital, which is that the system appears tilted in favor of blocking action on important, if controversial, issues rather than enacting legislation to deal with them.
President Obama got his vote on gun control, but not the vote—or the results—he wanted. On April 17, the White House campaign to tighten federal restrictions on firearms ran into a wall of Republican opposition and Democratic ambivalence.
While liberal activists decried the legislative flop, the outcome should not have shocked anyone who listened to Democratic leaders’ tentative tone since the December massacre in Newtown, Conn. In the crescendo of his Feb. 12 State of the Union address, Obama said of gun-violence victims, “They deserve a vote.” Not that they deserve swift passage of curbs on assault weapons, large-capacity ammunition magazines, and so on. They deserve, the president said, a vote.
As Greg [Sargent] documented, this is the historical record on gun legislation. But it’s also the historical record on all legislation. It’s rare to have something pass the first time it’s tried (and while background checks are not brand new, this push for expansion mostly is). But whether it’s health care, campaign finance, or even the Patriot Act, most bills succeed after a long and painful process — even though final passage may come surprisingly quickly (as was the case with the Patriot Act).More politics and policy below the fold.
It may sound trite to say it, but it really does come down to whether those who really care about it can sustain their effort over time, build support, and be ready with consensus legislation when the time comes. That wasn’t the case this time, as we found out this week. But as brutal as today was those who care about gun violence, the overall process can still be a step forward — if people keep working at it.
There's some pretty useless analysis to go along with the sharp pieces above. For example, anyone saying, "well, this always happens because gun responsibility approval trails the intensity of gun rights" has never met a Newtown family, has not paid attention to the hearings, and has no idea about what they are saying. It's a concept that was true 10 years ago. It has nothing to do with the current landscape.
NY Times editorial:
The most important aspect of his proposal, in the eyes of many gun-control advocates, was the expansion of background checks, both because it closed an important loophole and because it seemed the easiest to pass. From 20 percent to 40 percent of all gun sales now take place without a background check, and the bill rejected on Wednesday would have required the check for buyers at gun shows, on the Internet and at other commercially advertised sales. It was sponsored by two pro-gun senators with the courage to buck the lobby, Joe Manchin III, a Democrat of West Virginia, and Patrick Toomey, a Republican of Pennsylvania.Gabby Giffords:
The critical need for this measure was illustrated by a report in The Times on Wednesday that showed how easy it is for criminals to buy weapons on the Internet without a look at their backgrounds. One widely popular Web site contains tens of thousands of private postings of gun sales, and The Times’s investigation found that many buyers and sellers were criminals. Some of the guns have been used to kill.
On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.Shame. But this is not the end, and the groups and alliances that have formed to get us this far are not going away.
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.
Meanwhile, from the Boston Globe:
An official briefed on the Boston Marathon terror bombing investigation said today that authorities have an image of a suspect carrying, and perhaps dropping, a black bag at the second bombing scene on Boylston Street, outside of the Forum restaurant.
Investigators are “very close” in the investigation, said the official, who declined to be named.
The Globe’s source also said a surveillance camera at Lord & Taylor, located directly across the street, had provided clear video of the area, though it was uncertain whether the image of the suspect was taken from that camera.
“The camera from Lord & Taylor is the best source of video so far,” confirmed Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “All I know is that they are making progress.”