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Editorial: Washington gun vote was a double abomination

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate was the scene of a double abomination. The first was the defeat, in the aftermath of one mass murder after another, of a modest measure to improve the background checks designed to prevent criminals and the seriously mentally ill from purchasing firearms. The second was the defeat of democracy at the hands of a minority of senators in thrall to, or fear of, the National Rifle Association and other foes of virtually any restriction on firearms.

Democracy lost, not just because 90 percent of the American public support expanding background checks, but because a majority of senators supported the measure. The vote was 54-46 in favor, but under the arcane rules the Senate created for itself, it takes at least 60 votes to accomplish anything of substance. So, with many of the parents of the elementary school students killed in Newtown, Conn., and other victims of gun violence looking on, the Senate refused to make it harder for felons and persons of questionable sanity to buy guns.

Five Democrats, including Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, who switched his vote in order to preserve the option to bring the matter up again, voted against expanding the checks. Four Republicans voted in favor of the checks. We’re sorry to say Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who as the state’s former top law enforcement officer would normally be expected to support a measure that might keep guns out of the hands of criminals, was not among them.

Ayotte explained her position by saying that she could not support the bipartisan bill because she believes it would “place unnecessary burdens on law-abiding gun owners and allow for potential overreach by the federal government into private gun sales.” Her statement is utter nonsense.

The law does not affect gun owners who want to sell a weapon to a friend, relative or a gun dealer, and the bill specifically forbade the federal government from storing background check information or creating a registry of gun owners.

Ayotte’s vote, like the votes of most senators who thumbed their noses at the will of a populace sickened by violence, was political. Opponents wanted to avoid the wrath of a gun lobby willing to spend millions to demonize politicians who don’t toe their firing line.

If there ever was a time to even marginally strengthen this nation’s gun laws it was Wednesday, in the presence of the survivors and loved ones of one mass murder after another. The 2014 midterm elections could result in a Congress capable of passing gun control legislation and other measures stymied by filibusters, but we wouldn’t count on it. There is another way, a dangerous path to be sure if not tread carefully, but one the time has come to take.

In an essay in the current issue of the Harvard Journal on Legislation, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who voted for the gun check bill, discussed the history of the Senate filibuster and the factors that led to legislative gridlock. She outlines a range of measures, from modest procedural changes to an outright end of the filibuster rule in favor of a simple majority vote, at some point in the proceeding, to end debate.

Shaheen concludes her essay with these words:

“It may well take the obstruction of the passage of popular legislation despite majority support in the Senate, something akin to the events at the onset of World War I that led to the adoption of Rule XXII, to make the fundamental change I think is necessary to reflect the current realities of the U.S. Senate.”

That obstruction of popular legislation occurred last week. At the beginning of each session, the Senate can, by a simple majority vote, change its rules. It should do so next January, and drastically diminish or abolish the filibuster rule.

Legacy Comments14

Let's also not forget people on the Terror Watch List are NOT blocked from buying guns because of weak Background Check Laws. You can thank Senator Ayotte for that. SHAME.

Then pass a one page bill stating that they can't buy guns. You are upset because in reality you want guns banned or registered and this bill was a step in that direction. Same with health care. Progressives see it as a way to single payer.

THE Obama RECORD : he has only prosecuted exactly 44 people of the tens of thousands that tried to buy a gun and got caught by the current background check process - as per testimony on Senate Floor by Sen Cruz

So let me get this straight....liberals don't want illegal aliens to be documented but liberals want law abiding citizens to be documented....that indeed is the upside down world that liberals live in.

And as usual, the NRA spoon fed republicans get it wrong.

As usual, there is so much wrong with this editorial. Please provide 5 references for the following statement: "Ayotte’s vote, like the votes of most senators who thumbed their noses at the will of a populace sickened by violence, was political." I would like to see them thumbing their noses and since when do polls and the inferred "will of the people" references. Are you sure that you can say that with certainty. Shaheen is the obstructionist on many fronts. She obstructs economic recovery by standing with Obama. There need not be a 700 page bill passed to simply require background checks, most states have them anyway......the agenda is hidden in the 700+ pages. But the question begs, when does "obstruction" not apply to Republicans. They were obstructionists when they tried to block another unpopular piece of legislation....Obamacare. The Monitor editors are very familiar with the verbiage and political wordsmanship of the Left. The Monitor leftists didn't get their way so now they want the rules changed. When is it OK to stand in opposition to progressivism? When? Ever? Or should we just go along to get along. The Monitor Editors opinion and 99 cents will buy you an evil plastic bottle of water at the 7-11. It is not worth much more than that.

the 90% lie - Rasmussan poll proves that wrong........the low information voter will believe anything that Obama and the democrats spew

Ah yes! The skewed polls claim. How did that work out for President Romney?

We should not allow emotions to influence the impact on our republic and the Constitution. The Monitor opines: "with many of the parents of the elementary school students killed in Newtown, Conn., and other victims of gun violence looking on". That is shameful as Obama is playing to people's emotions and using those comment about that from the Monitor, they champion it, in fact. There was more in the bill as it does not take 770 pages to increase background checks, it take two pages to do that. Once again, the partisans in Washington are playing games. Why did the Monitor not write the same kind of an editorial when Obamacare was passed, Congress did something far worse, they played dirty tricks to pass that when polls showed that a majority of the population did not want it passed. It depends whose OX is being gored. In the case of the Monitor, it is pure politics and ideology. Some things never change.

So what we have here is democracy working perfectly. A bill is cleared for a vote, gets voted on, and does not pass. When liberals do not succeed, it's the rules that are the problem, not the bill. Change those stupid rules they say. Then what? Anyone remember what democrats did in Wisconsin to avoid voting on a bill back in 2011? Thats right...they hid. Ran away. Went on the lam. Did that bill not deserve a vote? No..not to them. Only bills that they deem worthy of a vote deserve a vote. Democrats, the Monitor editors, and liberals are a threat to democracy. We should outlaw them.

Democracy is "working perfectly" when the wishes of the majority of citizens AND senators are thwarted by a minority in the Senate? You have a strange definition of "working perfectly." It seems to mean nothing more to you than "things went my way."

again....a fact check will prove that statement is wrong

things should only get better for you under president romney!! see you in 2014/2016/... etc as you lose and lose and lose...:"liberals" never squeal with impotent rage (although we might gloat just a little bit) we just keep winning...and winning...and winning!!!! Better try a conservative country like russia. new hampshire will be all woman and all blue too.

A week ago Senator Ayotte voted to allow debate to go forward on the gun bill. She was viciously attacked in ads labeling her as "Obama's gun girl". I don't recall the Monitor praising her for her vote against her party and the gun lobby. Be careful what you wish for. When Republicans are in the majority in the Senate I suspect we will see editorials praising the 60 vote rule as a necessary check on one party control.

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