Editorial: The travesty of GOP politics
In the wake of last Wednesday’s mass shooting in San Bernadino, Calif., in which a husband and wife used semi-automatic assault weapons to kill 14 people and wound 20, you might think Congress could pass legislation to expand background checks, limit the sale of military-style assault weapons and ban the sale of weapons to people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list.
You’d be wrong.
On Thursday, Democrats in the U.S. Senate proposed two modest amendments that were shot down by the Republican majority. The Senate rejected a measure by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to expand background checks for guns purchased online and at gun shows, 48-50. Republican senators also rejected an amendment from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to prevent individuals on the federal terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms.
Seriously? Yep, and pretty much on a party line vote; Republicans lock-step in their refusal to do anything to mitigate gun violence.
In defending the Republican position against the latter amendment, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Feinstein’s proposal was “un-American” and violated individuals’ constitutional rights by potentially preventing someone mistakenly on the terrorist watch list from purchasing a firearm. He argued that Feinstein’s amendment presupposed “that the federal government is omniscient and all-competent,” and that it was better to error by making assault-style weapons available to everyone, rather than risk the possibility that a law-abiding citizen might temporarily be denied access to weapons because of a potential clerical mistake.
Seriously. That’s the nonsense coming from the mouths of Republicans who aren’t honest enough to admit that they are voting against gun control measures because they don’t want to lose the monetary and political support of the NRA. Pathetic.
And neither amendment Thursday addressed the real issue: restricting the sale of assault weapons.
As the nation has witnessed in recent mass shootings, the carnage is the greatest when killers unload round after round into the crowd in rapid fire, stopping to reload and fire another magazine or two into the crowd in a matter of seconds. That this nation allows the unrestricted sale of such weapons, especially to those on terrorist watch lists, defies reason.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was the most plain spoken of all the presidential candidates about the course of action the nation should take.
“We need to significantly expand and improve background checks,” he said. “We need to renew the assault weapons ban. We need to end the sale of high capacity magazines. We need to make gun trafficking a federal crime and give law enforcement the tools they need to get illegal guns off of the streets. We need to close the gun show loophole as well as loopholes that allow gun purchasers to buy a gun after the waiting period expires without a completed background check. We need to close loopholes that allow domestic abusers and stalkers to obtain guns. We need to strengthen penalties for straw purchasers who buy guns from licensed dealers on behalf of someone prohibited from purchasing a gun. And, very significantly, we need to greatly expand and improve our mental health capabilities.”
In a similar appeal to sanity, a group of doctors filed a petition in Washington last Wednesday—signed by 2,000 physicians around the country—that encouraged lawmakers to lift the restriction that for nearly two decades has blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting research on gun violence.
The doctors spoke about the need to view gun violence as a public health epidemic and research ways to solve it – just as the country would with any disease causing the deaths of thousands of Americans each year.
But not in America.
On Thursday, Republicans demonstrated they had no intention of changing their positions. The message is clear: Republicans would rather be ignorant than informed, and they would rather be in the pocket of the NRA than take even modest measures to stem the tide of gun-related violence. It is yet another travesty of the politics embraced by the GOP.
Angelo S. Lynn