Fighting the Gun Industry Whores
There is so much going on this week that deserves comment, but the one issue that drives my anger the most is yesterday's vote on the Manchin-Toomey amendment that would have instituted a universal background check system. It was very discouraging to see four Democrats vote against universal background checks, but at least in three of the four cases I can understand why a red-state 2014 Democratic incumbent (Begich, Pryor, and Baucus) would not risk a "yes" vote. Heidi Heitkamp on the other hand doesn't face the voters of North Dakota for another five years, and frankly hasn't offered much of a reason yet why she deserves a national office like United States senator.
President Obama showed the appropriate level of rage against the NRA yesterday for lying about the Manchin-Toomey amendment, and for doing its job to stir up opposition enough to force senators to cave in as he said to pressure. Yet Obama shares some of the blame for not striking quick enough after Newtown to push the NRA on the defensive early, and he has no one to blame but himself for losing the battle against the gun industry. Of course the NRA lies. Of course Congress is bought and paid for by the gun industry. There is nothing new about this, and Obama's naivete and unwillingness to call those truths out into the open sooner played a part in what happened yesterday. The question now is what to do about it.
First, some GOP senators need to be held to account for the lies they get away with in justifying their votes. For example, Chuck Grassley of Iowa gave several different reasons for voting against the amendment:
-Criminals don't submit to background checks;
-Background checks wouldn't stop another Newtown;
-Universal background checks would lead to national gun registration.
On the first and second assertions, Grassley and the NRA have no way of knowing or proving either statement. What is known for certain is that the gun show loophole that exists in 33 states does nothing to prevent criminals or the mentally unstable from getting guns at gun shows. So the key question the press needs to ask Grassley and other NRA whores is "Why should gun show sellers be able to sell their guns without any background checks on who is buying those guns?" Because until Grassley can show that Iowa law currently prevents gun show sales to criminals and the mentally unstable, his vote yesterday enabled criminals and the mentally unstable to get guns.
On the third issue, Grassley and the other NRA whores need to tell us why local law enforcement should be barred from knowing who in their community has stockpiled weapons.
Lastly, as for a strategy going forward, I would recommend that NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg use his money to set up a national organization called "Gun Victims of America". A separate issue advocacy organization that gives a face to the gun industry's hostage-taking of our government is better suited to hold both Democrats and Republicans accountable than Obama is. Setting up such offices across the country in media markets of the 46 "no" votes yesterday can call attention to how many of those senators are on the gun industry payroll while ignoring the victims amongst their constituencies. Such an organization can pointedly ask Senator Grassley to show us where exactly in the U. S. Constitution does it say anyone has a right to an assault weapon with large magazine clips without background checks, and that those rights trump the rights of the community to be safe themselves.