Strange, when it’s well known that 90 percent of the American people support universal background checks that make it harder for a dangerous person to buy a gun, it is possible that the senate ignores their plea.
“Shame on you!” shouted an elderly woman seated in the Senate gallery late Wednesday afternoon. The Senate had just rejected a bipartisan deal to expand gun-sale background checks.
Soon afterwards in a press conference we saw a clear disappointed President Obama who delivered a frustrated indictment of Senate Republicans and the gun lobby for blocking gun reform supported by “90 percent of the American people.” Expanding background checks was a centrepiece of Obama’s reform package, and the Senate vote to block the measure is considered a serious blow to overall reform efforts.
Gabby Giffords remarked:
“Today the U.S. Senate ignored the will of the American people and failed to pass a bipartisan, commonsense, moderate solution for keeping deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous people and making our communities safer.”
More than 15 million people heard the call for common-sense steps to reduce gun violence and many left their remarks on several platforms, social media, newspapers and leaflets.
On the 17° of April 2013 President Obama stood with parents who lost children in the Newtown tragedy and said: “All in all, today was a pretty shameful day for Washington.”
That’s because a minority of senators blocked legislation that would have made America safer and better protected their kids. Forty-five lawmakers stood in the way of improvements to the background check system that would keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals and the mentally unstable — something that 90 percent of Americans support.
— The President’s Remarks —
A few months ago, in response to too many tragedies — including the shootings of a United States Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, who’s here today, and the murder of 20 innocent schoolchildren and their teachers — this country took up the cause of protecting more of our people from gun violence.
Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders — not just to honor the memory of their children, but to protect the lives of all our children. And a few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery.
By now, it’s well known that 90 percent of the American people support universal background checks that make it harder for a dangerous person to buy a gun. We’re talking about convicted felons, people convicted of domestic violence, people with a severe mental illness. Ninety percent of Americans support that idea. Most Americans think that’s already the law.
And a few minutes ago, 90 percent of Democrats in the Senate just voted for that idea. But it’s not going to happen because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate just voted against that idea.
A majority of senators voted “yes” to protecting more of our citizens with smarter background checks. But by this continuing distortion of Senate rules, a minority was able to block it from moving forward.
I’m going to speak plainly and honestly about what’s happened here because the American people are trying to figure out how can something have 90 percent support and yet not happen. We had a Democrat and a Republican -– both gun owners, both fierce defenders of our Second Amendment, with “A” grades from the NRA — come together and worked together to write a common-sense compromise on background checks. And I want to thank Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey for their courage in doing that. That was not easy given their traditional strong support for Second Amendment rights.
As they said, nobody could honestly claim that the package they put together infringed on our Second Amendment rights. All it did was extend the same background check rules that already apply to guns purchased from a dealer to guns purchased at gun shows or over the Internet. So 60 percent of guns are already purchased through a background check system; this would have covered a lot of the guns that are currently outside that system.
Their legislation showed respect for gun owners, and it showed respect for the victims of gun violence. And Gabby Giffords, by the way, is both — she’s a gun owner and a victim of gun violence. She is a Westerner and a moderate. And she supports these background checks.
In fact, even the NRA used to support expanded background checks. The current leader of the NRA used to support these background checks. So while this compromise didn’t contain everything I wanted or everything that these families wanted, it did represent progress. It represented moderation and common sense. That’s why 90 percent of the American people supported it.
But instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. They claimed that it would create some sort of “big brother” gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite. This legislation, in fact, outlawed any registry. Plain and simple, right there in the text. But that didn’t matter.
And unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose, because those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners, and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators. And I talked to several of these senators over the past few weeks, and they’re all good people. I know all of them were shocked by tragedies like Newtown. And I also understand that they come from states that are strongly pro-gun. And I have consistently said that there are regional differences when it comes to guns, and that both sides have to listen to each other.
But the fact is most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn’t want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun. There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this. It came down to politics — the worry that that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections. They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment.
And obviously, a lot of Republicans had that fear, but Democrats had that fear, too. And so they caved to the pressure, and they started looking for an excuse — any excuse — to vote “no.”
One common argument I heard was that this legislation wouldn’t prevent all future massacres. And that’s true. As I said from the start, no single piece of legislation can stop every act of violence and evil. We learned that tragically just two days ago. But if action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand — if it could have prevented those people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future while preserving our Second Amendment rights, we had an obligation to try.
And this legislation met that test. And too many senators failed theirs.
I’ve heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory. And my question is, a victory for who? A victory for what? All that happened today was the preservation of the loophole that lets dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check. That didn’t make our kids safer. Victory for not doing something that 90 percent of Americans, 80 percent of Republicans, the vast majority of your constituents wanted to get done? It begs the question, who are we here to represent?
I’ve heard folks say that having the families of victims lobby for this legislation was somehow misplaced. “A prop,” somebody called them. “Emotional blackmail,” some outlet said. Are they serious? Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don’t have a right to weigh in on this issue? Do we think their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this debate?
So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.
But this effort is not over. I want to make it clear to the American people we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence, so long as the American people don’t give up on it. Even without Congress, my administration will keep doing everything it can to protect more of our communities. We’re going to address the barriers that prevent states from participating in the existing background check system. We’re going to give law enforcement more information about lost and stolen guns so it can do its job. We’re going to help to put in place emergency plans to protect our children in their schools.
But we can do more if Congress gets its act together. And if this Congress refuses to listen to the American people and pass common-sense gun legislation, then the real impact is going to have to come from the voters.
To all the people who supported this legislation — law enforcement and responsible gun owners, Democrats and Republicans, urban moms, rural hunters, whoever you are — you need to let your representatives in Congress know that you are disappointed, and that if they don’t act this time, you will remember come election time.
To the wide majority of NRA households who supported this legislation, you need to let your leadership and lobbyists in Washington know they didn’t represent your views on this one.
The point is those who care deeply about preventing more and more gun violence will have to be as passionate, and as organized, and as vocal as those who blocked these common-sense steps to help keep our kids safe. Ultimately, you outnumber those who argued the other way. But they’re better organized. They’re better financed. They’ve been at it longer. And they make sure to stay focused on this one issue during election time. And that’s the reason why you can have something that 90 percent of Americans support and you can’t get it through the Senate or the House of Representatives.
So to change Washington, you, the American people, are going to have to sustain some passion about this. And when necessary, you’ve got to send the right people to Washington. And that requires strength, and it requires persistence.
And that’s the one thing that these families should have inspired in all of us. I still don’t know how they have been able to muster up the strength to do what they’ve doing over the last several weeks, last several months.
And I see this as just round one. When Newtown happened, I met with these families and I spoke to the community, and I said, something must be different right now. We’re going to have to change. That’s what the whole country said. Everybody talked about how we were going to change something to make sure this didn’t happen again, just like everybody talked about how we needed to do something after Aurora. Everybody talked about we needed change something after Tucson.
And I’m assuming that the emotions that we’ve all felt since Newtown, the emotions that we’ve all felt since Tucson and Aurora and Chicago — the pain we share with these families and families all across the country who’ve lost a loved one to gun violence — I’m assuming that’s not a temporary thing. I’m assuming our expressions of grief and our commitment to do something different to prevent these things from happening are not empty words.
I believe we’re going to be able to get this done. Sooner or later, we are going to get this right. The memories of these children demand it. And so do the American people.
Thank you very much, everybody.
People can wonder what worse things do have to happen before the families would use their common sense and people would urge their representatives to take steps against all those weapons.
Has the American nation not suffered enough at the hands of dangerous people who use guns to commit horrific acts of violence. As President Obama said following the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy:
“We won’t be able to stop every violent act, but if there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we ave a deep obligation, all of us, to try.”
North Americans should come to understand that to better protect their children and their communities from tragic mass shootings like those in Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek, and Tucson, they shall have to make common-sense steps and build up a world with less violence for the future generations. Their ancestors may have lived in the ‘Far West’ with memories of fighting white men and Indians, they should now that that period is not the nice one to remember and should become a closed book.
The time of ending a personal dispute with gun fire should long be gone.
Today it is still not too late to bring changes in the way of life in the United States nor in the rest of the world.
Though sometimes it takes courage to change laws and to take the will to show those people who think they can govern the world with their weapons and money that the good spirit is stronger than the evil one.
While no law or set of laws will end gun violence, we in Europe also do have the impression that there are more sensible American people who want to come an end to that ridiculous easy use of weapons and who want action. The world still can see how the NRA buy the candidates so that they shall have to follow what they dictate.
Where are all those Christians who call for Love? There are so many “pro-life” groups, but at the same time are those who shout against abortion the ones who would like that any body can buy any sort of weapon even war-guns, and love to go to the shooting clubs. Those who call for the freedom are at the same opposing the freedom to a woman’s right to get an abortion. Is for them the right to prohibit a raped girl to have an abortion more sanctified to have the foetus growing up in a world where it may be killed by a gun?
Some religious people like to have control of others and prohibit some things which they themselves may have. An African-American mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, native New Yorker now living in a town about 20 miles outside of Atlanta, is a believer in freedom of choice for women, who writes in “Pro-Life” Is A Lie, Here Are 10 More Accurate Descriptions They Won’t Like:
A lot of the arguments that fuel the anti-abortion debate are religious in nature. Since not everyone follows the same religion, trying to assert your religious beliefs over other people can be considered nothing less than pro-religious control. Not all of the “pro-life” movement is opposed to abortion, necessarily, but they are in favor of controlling people on the basis of religion. Rick Santorum, for example, who strongly opposes abortion for religious reasons, had no problem with his own wife having a life saving abortion. Despite the fact that his own wife needed one, because of his religion, he continues to insist that it should be denied to other women. What’s more controlling than that?
Anyone who would call themselves “pro-life,” while simultaneously trying to outlaw abortions, making them more deadly, is a hypocrite.
Should America not only save the mothers who are getting a newborn plus children still to be born and have them taking care much more about the safety of those who are born?
Let many more hear the voice calling out:
If even one child’s life can be saved, then we need to act. Now is the time to do the right thing for our children, our communities, and the country we love.
- The President Speaks On Gun Violence….And He Ain’t Happy. (theobamacrat.com)
- In 2014, it will be the NRA against the American people (dailykos.com)
Today, a majority of the Senate, supported by over 90 percent of the American people on the issue, failed to pass a watered-down-to-the-point-of-near-ineffectiveness background checks bill. It didn’t fail because of a lack of support, but because 1) Harry Reid was too gutless to pass meaningful filibuster reform, and 2) because the NRA has owned the issue for too long, the sole players on the electoral battlefield.
- Reid pulls gun bill, lawmakers gear up for protracted battle on background checks (theseatonpost.com)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid effectively pulled his party’s gun control bill Thursday after a critical background check amendment failed to garner enough support, as he and other Democrats vowed to resume their push for new gun laws in the months ahead.
“Make no mistake, this debate is not over,” Reid said.
- Senate Guns Down Background Checks (swampland.time.com)
It was a bruising defeat for gun-control advocates, just five months after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary raised hopes that the gun lobby could be beaten if not exactly tamed. The Obama Administration pulled out all the stops to prevent it, mounting a vigorous lobbying push. Vice President Joe Biden presided from the dais. Gabby Giffords roamed the halls of the Capitol. Relatives of the victims of recent mass shootings, ribbons honoring the fallen pinned to their shirts, looked on from the gallery to apply an extra ounce of pressure.
None of it worked.
- A ‘shameful day for Washington’: Obama on Senate failure to pass expanded background checks (tv.msnbc.com)
“This was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” said an angry President Obama after the Senate voted 54-46 against a bipartisan compromise to expand background checks for gun purchases. It needed 60 votes to pass.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee says it plans to run print advertisements against Baucus, Heitkamp, Pryor and Begich. “We’ll be holding accountable Democrats who voted against their constituents by running ads in their states, featuring some of the 23,000 gun owners who have joined our campaign for common sense gun reform,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the group.
- Another gun-fighter speech by President Obama… (oldtimerchronicle.wordpress.com)
- First on CNN: King, Thompson to intro background checks in House (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
Republican Rep. Peter King of New York said he doesn’t want to be “reinventing” the wheel on the gun bill in the Senate and plans to make a similar background check proposal in the House with Rep. Mike Thompson, D-California. “My goal would be to get the strongest background check bill we can,” King said.
- Gabby Giffords Rips Senate In New York Times Op-Ed: ‘I Am Furious’ (mediaite.com)
The failure of the Joe Manchin/Pat Toomey background check amendment, at the hands of a Republican filibuster that was abetted by four Democrats, will reverberate for years to come, propelled by seismic thunderbolts like the eloquent outrage of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.