Grant Bosse: The Senate sticks to its guns
Contrary to what you may have heard from CNN, the president, or other unreliable sources, this is how the U.S. Senate is supposed to work. Senators debated legislation, considered competing amendments and voted. The process isn’t broken just because you didn’t like the result.
That hasn’t stopped gun control advocates from declaring the end of republican democracy after the Senate failed to pass the latest attempt to whittle away a few more slivers from the Second Amendment.
The Manchin-Toomey amendment at the center of last week’s gun control debate was so watered-down that it contained few of the stringent restriction that gun control groups wanted and almost none of the overdue reforms that gun owners were looking for. It was rather weak tea to generate such passion from both sides of the gun debate.
It wasn’t a great week for the National Rifle Association, which opposed even bringing the bill to the Senate floor. This was a huge tactical error, which would have given President Obama and gun control groups a political and fundraising advantage. Opening up the issue to debate, and alternative amendments exposed gun control’s weak foundations.
An amendment to renew the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban failed this week 40-60, with New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen among those voting to bring back a law that didn’t work the first time. Riding a wave of emotion, a full court press from the White House, and a Democratic majority, the Senate got just 40 votes for the centerpiece of the gun control agenda.
It was an even worse week for the professional outsiders. These political
parasites survive by stoking conservative disenchantment within the Republican Party. A wanna-be from Colorado named Dudley Brown attacked senators like New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte for voting to bring the bill to the floor. My friends in Colorado already knew him to be ill-informed and counterproductive. Now we all do.
But no one suffered more from the Senate vote than Obama, as demonstrated by his petulant Rose Garden speech. Obama whined about the NRA supposedly lying about Manchin-Toomey, though he’s been using glaringly false statistics throughout his push for greater gun control. He called the Senate votes shameful, while shamelessly using parents of children killed at Sandy Hook. But this bill would have no more prevented another Newtown than it would have stopped the Boston Marathon bombing or the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
Obama and other gun control advocates are furious. They assume Second Amendment supporters know restrictive gun laws would save lives, and just don’t care. They start with a premise that limiting gun ownership would reduce crime by preventing criminals and lunatics from getting their hands on deadly weapons.
But their premise is wrong. Gun control doesn’t keep criminals from getting guns, it doesn’t reduce crime and it doesn’t save lives.
This week’s gun debate was all for show. The president’s best-case scenario was getting a watered-down gun control bill through the Senate, given him the chance to attack House Republicans when they put it in a drawer. His fallback was attacking the Senate GOP for filibustering gun control.
Instead, we got a national debate on gun control, and gun control lost. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid required 60 votes for any amendment to pass. Otherwise, the Senate could have passed Manchin-Toomey, along with popular Republican alternatives to protect gun-owners traveling in anti-gun states, to enforce federal laws already on the books, and to begin reforming a mental health system that’s been broken since the Carter Administration.
The last thing the president wanted was for an actual bipartisan compromise, with Republican and Democratic amendments adopted on the Senate floor. How could he raise money off that?
(Grant Bosse is editor of New Hampshire Watchdog, an independent news site dedicated to New Hampshire public policy.)