On Wednesday, Americans watched in horror as yet another city was struck by the shocking gun violence that has become all too common in this country. Fourteen people were murdered and nearly twenty injured when two shooters walked into the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino and opened fire. The latest shooting came on the same day as another in Georgia and less than a week after a right-wing Christian extremist opened fire on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, killing three people. However, instead of working to make this country safer for our children and families, less twenty-four hours after the worst mass shooting in America since the 2012 bloodbath at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Senate Republicans voted down two gun measures.
The pair of gun control bills were introduced on Thursday as a way to get Republicans’ refusal to enact common sense arms control on record. According to Politico:
The first gun control measure proposed by Democrats was legislation from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would deny people on a federal terrorism watch list the ability to purchase guns. The measure failed, 45-54.
The bill was the second of its kind to fail in recent years because of the NRA puppets in Congress. The Washington Post recently reported that between 2004 and 2014, suspected terrorists attempted to buy firearms from American dealers at least 2,233 times. “And in 2,043 of those cases — 91 percent of the time — they succeeded.” Upon learning this, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY) introduced the “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015” to close the loophole that allows people on the “No-Fly List” to buy guns. When a similar bill was introduced in 2011, the NRA vehemently objected to the measure, claiming:
“[The bills] are aimed primarily at law-abiding American gun owners…As D.C.’s and Chicago’s handgun bans have proven, prohibiting the possession of firearms doesn’t stop criminals from illegally acquiring them. There would be an enormous potential for abuse, if the FBI were given arbitrary power over a constitutionally-protected right. This would be true even if the FBI had an unblemished record where civil rights are concerned…..[they] are sponsored by gun control extremists.”
The Republican Party pretends to be so concerned with national security, but then they allow people on the terror watch list to LEGALLY purchase guns.
The second measure to fail would have enacted universal background checks. It was originally introduced as a bipartisan measure in response to the 2012 Newtown massacre which claimed the lives of twenty children and six adults. Four Republicans — Senator John McCain, Sen. Mark Kirk, Sen. Susan Collins, and Pat Toomey — voted in favor of it both in 2013 and today. However, one Democrat, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), turned her back on her party and sided with the GOP in both votes on Thursday.
“The entire country will know where every member of the Senate stands on tightening background checks, on keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists and on strengthening and improving mental health in this country,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said during a news conference detailing the strategy. “There are a good number — not all — but there are a good number of our Republican colleagues dreading these two votes. Dreading them.”
Perhaps the most enraging part of the votes on Wednesday was that not one senator changed their position in the two years since the last gun control measures were brought to a vote. We have an epidemic of gun violence in this country — one that matches no other advanced nation in the world — with more mass shootings than days this year, and still the right-wing refuses to put politics aside and vote to protect the people of this country. They constantly lambaste President Obama and Democrats for their willingness to help the desperate Syrian refugees, but then they turn around and allow the actual suspected home-grown terrorists to buy guns. Their hypocrisy is breathtaking.
How many more people have to die before the Republican Party decides enough is enough? We fear the answer is, enough will never be enough for them. The GOP will fight against gun control as long as the campaign contributions from the NRA keep rolling in.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.