Friday, April 12, 2013

The Senate Gun Vote: We Can Talk About It

The Senate voted Thursday to begin formal debate of gun legislation, beginning what is expected to be several weeks of argument on the most consequential congressional action on firearm regulations since the 1990s. The vote was 68 to 31.

The vote comes nearly four months after 26 people, including 20 first-graders, were killed by a lone gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. I can still hear President Obama telling Congress that the families deserve a vote.

While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says the hard work is just beginning. The public and the media are celebrating this vote as a victory. Okay, so a handful of Republican Senators decided not to filibuster to avoid even debating the issues. Big deal.

Senators Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa) lead the effort to get the vote through the Senate. 52 Democrats joined 16 Republicans voted to approve the motion to proceed. 2 Democrats joined 29 Republicans to oppose the motion. Well, we finally got "bi-partisianship".

Just think about it, all the noise is because the Senate voted to "discuss" or "debate" proposed gun legislation. Much of the significant proposals have been removed from the discussion and the most popular focus, background checks, has been watered down under the watchful eye of the NRA.  Senators have decided to talk about gun legislation, but the uphill battle is getting enough votes to pass a bill.  Many Senators already indicate that we can talk, but they'll vote no on the actual legislation.

There'll be amendments and provisions designed to suit gun owner, the NRA, and gun manufacturers, all of whom seem to carry more weight than the majority of the American public.

Maybe I should be content just to get something passed, but I'm ashamed of what I see and embarrassed for my country as the rest of the world watches our feeble efforts to cope with gun violence. So many of our elected officials put their desire to get re-elected in front of passing sensible legislation to curb gun violence. As I watch the families of gun violence victims, including the parents and relatives from Newtown, struggle and fight to move legislators to do their job, I'm sickened by a well known truth that guides the Congress-me first, my party second, and what's good for the country last. Everyone pretends that Congress cares what the public wants, but their actions tell me that they don't care about the public at all.

There seems to be a disconnect between how legislators vote and the response from their constituents.  These same folks get reelected term after term with little regard for how they vote on the issues compared with the will of the public. Oil companies, coal companies, wall street and other corporate entities armed with an army of lobbyist and gigantic bank accounts seem to be the voices that are heard, not the voice of the people.

We have to blame ourselves for not knowing the issues, for not paying attention, and for only knowing what the media tells us. We accept mediocrity, lack of accomplishment, and disregard from our representatives. They can count on serving their own interest with any consequence from the voters. When things get tough, our representatives in Washington leave town for two weeks and when they return, it seems the air has cleared and they continue to waste time and get nothing done.

What am I crying about? We get what we deserve!

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