Although disappointment naturally reigned among gun-control advocates over their failure Wednesday to get enough senators to support an expansion of background checks to private gun sales (as well as for an assault weapons ban and limit on the capacity of ammunition magazines), the groups are making clear they are in this fight for the long haul:
"We'll get through this day, take down the bill, and get Senators prepared for the fact that they are going to be dealing with this issue everyday for the foreseeable future until they resolve it in the way the public wants," MAIG director Mark Glaze told BuzzFeed as he waited for the clock to run out on the Senate gun violence bill drafted after Newtown.Meanwhile, the Giffords Super PAC will run ads thanking several senators who put themselves at some electoral risk by voting for the expanded background checks proposal.
"The NRA has passed it's sell-by date," he said.
First up will be ads thanking Democratic Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Others will thank Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine, two of the four Republicans who broke ranks with their colleagues over background checks.
But gratitude will be combined with some as-yet-unmapped campaign against some of the senators who did not support tighter gun regulation. Giffords wrote in a New York Times op-ed:
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. [...]Strong words from a strong person. Time will tell if they can be transformed into strong action. Many foes of tighter gun regulations are, all too obviously, deeply entrenched and the Democratic targets for defeat at the ballot box have been elected in red states where their replacements would likely be even more gun-friendly Republicans. There are, however, some Republican targets elsewhere whose existing electoral vulnerability could be enhanced by attacks on their failure to take gun regulation seriously.
This defeat is only the latest chapter of what I’ve always known would be a long, hard haul. Our democracy’s history is littered with names we neither remember nor celebrate —people who stood in the way of progress while protecting the powerful. On Wednesday, a number of senators voted to join that list.