NRA 1, Obama 0 -

NRA 1, Obama 0

Luiza Ch. Savage on the gun control lobby’s defeat in the Senate


Jacquelyn Martin/AP

The president says it’s only Round One.

As families of victims of the mass shootings in Newtown, Tucson, and Virginia Tech looked on yesterday, the most modest of the gun control proposals put forward in the U.S. Senate could not muster the 60 votes needed to get over Republican opposition. A bipartisan amendment that would have required background checks of all commercial sales of guns (aimed at closing the loophole that had excluded gun shows) was defeated on a vote of 54-46.

Polls suggest that an overwhelming majority of Americans support background checks, but that did not translate into more votes in the Senate where Democrats have a slim majority. Four Democrats from conservative states voted against the measure: Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Heitkamp said in a statement that the background checks would “put an undue burdens on law-abiding North Dakotans” and said she would favor measures that focused on mental health policies rather than guns. “This conversation should be about what is in people’s minds, not about what is in their hands,” she wrote. (Majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada also voted against the measure, but for “procedural reasons” that will enable it be taken up again at a later time. See technical explanation here.)

Overall, the votes were a dramatic victory for gun rights and the National Rifle Association. Only 40 senators voted in favor of an assault-weapons ban, and only 46 voted in favor of limits on the size ammunition magazines. In contrast, 57 senators voted in favor of loosening gun restrictions by allowing people with concealed weapons permits to carry them in other states.

In emotional remarks from the White House Rose Garden, Obama called the outcome “a pretty shameful day for Washington” and vowed to press on. Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel was killed in the Newtown shooting, also spoke:

“We’ll return home now, disappointed but not defeated.  We return home with the determination that change will happen — maybe not today, but it will happen.  It will happen soon.  We’ve always known this would be a long road, and we don’t have the luxury of turning back,” he said.

Having learned in the first term the limits of his official powers when it comes to passing domestic legislation, Obama is trying a different approach. After his reelection, he launched a grassroots organizing effort called “Organizing for Action”, building on the infrastructure of his presidential campaign machine, aimed at mobilizing grassroots support for his legislative agenda. While some said yesterday’s defeat suggests the failure of his experiment, it’s simply too early to judge whether it will make an impact.

Obama has given every indication he will keep pushing to mobilize his supporters to put pressure on Congress. White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, said today: “I think we’re pretty close to a consensus on this just as about everywhere except in the United States Congress.  And as the President alluded to yesterday, I think that is an indication of the pernicious influence that some special interests have in the United States Congress.  And that is going to require a vocalization of public opinion to overcome it.”

But as he does so, Obama has to keep relations cordial with those same Republican lawmakers whose support he needs to pass his other domestic priority of his second term: immigration reform.

Yet it hasn’t been all defeat for the gun control lobby. Since the Newtown shootings, which left 20 children and six adults dead four months ago, four states have passed stricter gun laws. On the other hand, another twelve have loosened them.


NRA 1, Obama 0

  1. On April 17, 2013, 46 US senators publicly admitted to having been bought by the NRA. Will there be consequences? I don’t hold out much hope.

  2. Where are Robert Redford, Daryl Hannah and the other altruistic celebrities when you need them? Why aren’t they picketing the White House, etc. on the issue of gun control. Could it be that they don’t have the bravery to wade into a debate that actually affect their own bottom line? It wouldn’t do any good to anger the American gun owners who are buying theater tickets and are quick to label anyone against guns as being “against America”. Just ask the Dixie Chicks or Susan Sarandon what happens to performers who take on America. Best to save your picketing for Canadian issues.

  3. I’m curious how you people can continue to report with a straight face that Senators voting against something that had 90% public support were doing so because they feared losing their seats over it.

    • I suspect you already have the answer for that question. But it is fun reading your posts. Keep up the good fight!

  4. Typical condescending Canadian responses.

    The Americans value their 2nd amendment rights, and apparently, some politicians still do as well, even the democrats. God bless America, God bless their continued fight for the right to be free.

    The last, greatest country in the world where freedom still has a fighting chance. America will survive Obama and all of the other socialist attempts to fundamentally attack America and it’s Constitution.

    • God bless America, God bless their continued fight for the right to be free.

      Totally agree.
      And yes… The US will survive Obama.

    • You think the US is better than Canada? Feel free to move there.

      BTW – 90% of Americans were in favour of the bill but NRA bribes… er, campaign donations… were apparently more important to the senators than the opinions of their constituents.

  5. There already are background checks so it isn’t really clear that the further checks are represented in the ‘majority supports’ poll or not – it could mean the majority supports the status quo. It would have been nice if Obamacare had majority support as passed though, in a related point.