Democrats Score a Win on Guns, but Face Tough Road Ahead

Democrats overcome a gun-control filibuster, but their boasts belie the tough road ahead.

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MICHAEL REYNOLDS / EPA

Democratic Senator from New York Chuck Schumer delivers remarks during a news conference with family members and victims of gun violence, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, on April 11, 2013.

To hear Senate Democrats as they broke a Republican filibuster of gun-control legislation, you would think they’d made history. “Love won this week,” declared Connecticut‘s Chris Murphy. New York’s Chuck Schumer cast the gun fight as a Biblical battle of darkness and light. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid crowed that the vote defied critics who call the Senate hopelessly dysfunctional.

But even Reid admitted what every gun-control supporter knows all too well: that Thursday’s vote was the first milepost on a very long road. All Democrats have done so far is limp to the starting line. “The hard work,” he said, “starts now.”

In the Senate, even clearing a routine procedural hurdle can be an occasion for triumphalism. Sixteen Republicans broke ranks to help Democrats overcome a filibuster by a vote of 68 to 31. Just two Democrats – Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska, both up for re-election in conservative states next year — voted no. Yet many of the Republicans who voted to proceed with debate are likely to oppose the actual bill. One of them, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, noted that the legislation is still susceptible to a filibuster. And even if the gun package passes the Senate, where the amendment process will begin next week, it faces even longer odds in the Republican-controlled House.

And if the politics are challenging, there is little evidence that the bill’s passage would do much to cure the epidemic of gun violence in a nation where 3,300 people have been shot to death since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in December. Its core provision is an expansion of background checks, now required only for sales by licensed firearm dealers, to gun shows and online transactions. While that would represent the most significant restriction on gun sales in two decades, it’s still a modest step.

For one thing, it doesn’t close gaping gun loopholes. “It just reshapes them,” says Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA who has authored a book on the Second Amendment. The bipartisan compromise struck this week by Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin exempts private transactions from background checks and record-keeping requirements. That means you can still get a gun from a friend, family member or neighbor without filling out the paperwork law-enforcement officials say is necessary to track gun crimes. That’s hugely important to the NRA, which fiercely opposes background checks and record-keeping — a fact that is surely not lost on Toomey and Manchin, who enjoy “A” ratings from the powerful organization and are intent on crafting a compromise that can attract broad bipartisan support.

In addition, “even the gun-show provision is effectively toothless,” Winkler says. “You can meet someone at a gun show and say, meet me in 15 minutes in the parking lot.” (The deal’s outline suggests it will address the parking-lot scenario, but it doesn’t say how.) “It’s hard to imagine how much more diluted you can get,” he adds. And yet conservatives in both the Senate and the House will do their best to water it down further.

It was the Toomey-Manchin deal, which will be introduced as an amendment on Tuesday to replace a more stringent standard opposed by Republicans, that allowed Democrats to win Thursday’s opening skirmish in the Senate’s gunfight. During the roll call vote Manchin, broad-shouldered in a brown suit, planted himself in the center aisle of the Senate chamber, grabbing backs and greeting well-wishers like a parent accepting congratulations at his child’s wedding. Toomey huddled quietly with GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell. When Manchin saw his chance, he steered his Republican partner toward a huddle with Reid, clasping his hands on both their shoulders as if to forcibly prevent them from escaping. Democrats smiled and glad-handed, while Republicans sat impassively at their polished wooden desks. When the vote was over, Blumenthal beamed up at his constituents in the gallery and gave them a thumbs-up.

One of those constituents was Jillian Soto, 24. Her sister Victoria, 27, died shielding her students in a first-grade classroom at Sandy Hook. Since the shooting, she has taken time off from college to lobby for new gun restrictions. On Thursday she spoke at a press conference in a walnut-and-marble sanctum on the second floor of the Capitol, fiddling with green bangles on his wrist and trying not to cry as she told an audience how she wanted her sister to have “died for a reason.” She was composed and articulate after the vote, but dismayed by the fact that it had taken so long to start debate on a measure backed by 90% of Americans. “It’s such a slow process,” she says. “It’s going to be such a slow process with all of the amendments to the bill. To me, it’s common sense. These are things that will save people’s lives. The fact that it took so long to do this, and that there are still so many people opposed – it frightens me. It shows that our country is in trouble.”

And what was it like to be in Washington — to watch her own moral certainty about guns, sharpened by tragedy, collide with the paralyzing forces of national politics?  “It sucks to be here,” she says. “I have to be here to honor my 27-year-old sister, because she was murdered. So it sucks. But I take some relief knowing that what I am doing is being heard. There are senators who are listening to us. And I take some honor in knowing that.”

177 comments
mpetkus
mpetkus

The 2nd Amendment will not be violated. Every other right you have (barely with Demo or Republo fake left right nut of NWO) WILL be removed, your 401K or whatever bank account, your right to assembly, etc., WILL be removed. the NWO is desperate to take away our protection from the tyranny they WILL impose upon us. They are scared of the USA's power of self protection, and most importantly the massive wakeup that is rising among us all.

Bush=Obama=Tyranny.

We are AWAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I highlighted WILL and AWAKE.

It is our WILL of  freedom, that keeps us AWAKE from tyranny.

Police, Mitltary, DHS, etc. reading this you had better choose a side right now.

Freedom ALWAYS wins.


Peace...

EduardoBlanco
EduardoBlanco

Guess I'll ask a question to the community. 
The Pro-Gun side wants no further gun laws beyond those in place today. 

The Anti-Gun side wants a host of further restrictions.

Since it's clear there needs to be some compromise, my question is what would you be ok with at a minimum? Expect that you would not get everything you want, but I'd imagine there are items you are and are not willing to compromise on. 

What would you be willing to compromise on?

And please, no name calling. No one is dumb or evil here, we just have vastly different outlooks on this topic.

EddieVonMises
EddieVonMises

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.

That means the Second Amendment supports prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, along with laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, and laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

Also the sorts of weapons protected are those in common use. The government can and should prohibit the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.

SarahPalinRules
SarahPalinRules

Obama should be impeached by not upholding the Constitution

SarahPalinRules
SarahPalinRules

The Socialists, I mean the Demorats, (and the Repubican maggots) just passed a law that 

WILL HELP PEOPLE LIKE THAT MENTAL CASE GO INTO SCHOOLS AND MASS MURDER MORE CHILDREN.

Do the idiot parents in NEWTOWN understand that THIS DOES NOTHING, ZERO, TO STOP MASS MURDER ?

LenSimpson
LenSimpson

Re: Congress----is non performance of sworn duties an impeachable offense ?

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

No reason for a law abiding man with a straight head to now be allowed to own an AR-15

If I own an AR-15 nobody has the right to confiscate it and even if you banned them tomorrow enough of them with be legally grandfathered in that they will be easy to find anyway... and if you try to confiscate them you are likely to be shot after the Katrina confiscation.

Guns were confiscated because of some moron during Katrina... that is enough reason to oppose anything that allows another moron to confiscate a weapon. (and if you have weapons better forge a hiding spot).

EduardoBlanco
EduardoBlanco

For those struggling to understand why the NRA would be against something that at face value appears to be pretty much a no brainer.  Many have been commenting that the NRA supported universal background checks as recently as 1999. This is true and was the consensus for many years to follow.

Then the gun confiscations after Hurricane Katrina occurred (2005). Guns of ALL kinds were confiscated from people when they needed them most due to the looting and violence that ensued. Afterward, the NRA changed their position. They made a promise to their supporters that they would no longer support any legislation that could eventually result in gun confiscation. Universal background checks (depending on how it is executed) equals gun registration.

There’s a YouTube video on it, do a search on “gun confiscation Katrina”. I urge you to look it up regardless of what side of the argument you are on. There was also a recent unlawful gun confiscation in NYS.

Not trying to change anyone’s mind, just trying to help people see the other side a bit better.

As for me, if there was some guarantee that background checks would not evolve into gun registration I would support it myself. However, as it stands I need more convincing. 

fitty_three
fitty_three

Still waiting for an answer to the fizzicks question, curt3rd.

fitty_three
fitty_three

Looks like curt3rd don't know fizzicks.

aztecian
aztecian

@mpetkus another 2nd amendment prepper freak here.  what's with all the caps you moron?

steelgoat67
steelgoat67

Forth, Eorlingas!!

Oops. Wrong fantasy film.

fitty_three
fitty_three

...and get a damned life, too, while you're at it.

grape_crush
grape_crush

@EduardoBlanco > The Pro-Gun side wants no further gun laws beyond those in place today. The Anti-Gun side wants a host of further restrictions.

I'm not buying into that framework, sorry. This isn't a choice between absolutes. You can be all for firearm ownership and still want reasonable, common-sense protections in place.


Tboy68
Tboy68

@EddieVonMises  

I totally agree with you, and I am so thankful that there are already laws that felons cannot own guns. It is a good thing the Lautenburg Amendment was passed im 1996. I am also thankful that fully automatic assault weapons are illegal according to the 1968 Gun Control Act.Thankfully these laws only leave the common semi automatic weapons with their common 15 to 30 round magazines. After all there are roughly 100 million semiautomatics in the US with an average of two magazines each, so 200 million magazines holding between 15 and 30 rounds seem to be pretty common. I really like your logic EddieVonMises. 

And I really wish we could limit the 1st Amendment like the 2nd Amendment. Why should someone be allowed to criticize the government, war, or a politician. We should ban this kind of speech. It doesn't mean that you don't have free speech or eliminate the 1st Amendment it just means that you can't say those restricted items of speech, but you can say anything else. Or else we could license certain speech so that only the educated elite and wealthy can say certain things. this too would not eliminate the 1st Amendment, but just keep people from abusing it. After all speaking out about a war could cause deaths during a protest or cause a riot. We don't people abusing their rights as Obama said.

aztecian
aztecian

@SarahPalinRules oh jeez...this biatch is your poster child for the white-racist-wing.  only an idiot would follow this scumbag.

EduardoBlanco
EduardoBlanco

@LenSimpson Yes, I would imagine in much the same way that breaking an oath to uphold and defend the US Constitution.

Heian
Heian

@Hadrewsky Everyone is a law abiding citizen. Until they aren't.

Like, say how you're all but threatening to shoot somebody who tries to take your gun. Doesn't sound very "law-abiding" to me. But you are making a great argument for gun control!

Heian
Heian

@EduardoBlanco The thing about the Katrina situation is that, even in light of (and perhaps especially because of) looting, people being armed would be a disastrous idea. On the surface, it's just to keep people from robbing others at gunpoint. There's also the concern that people will see almost every other person as a potential looter, in that stressful situation.

Imagine looking out and seeing somebody with a rifle on their shoulder. Yes, they could be looking to rob you, or they could just be trying to get to their family. That panic and fear can lead to terrible situations in an already stressful environment.

It's easy to say "taking guns away causes _____ situation". Leaning on those hypothetical situations really does a disservice to the discussion. And hearing "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" (and similar iterations) is a common thing, all but ignores the simple fact; what recent gun tragedies have involved an illegally-obtained weapon?

grape_crush
grape_crush

 @EduardoBlanco > Not trying to change anyone’s mind, just trying to help people see the other side a bit better.

It was a state of emergency, called by the governor.

"On August 26, 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was placed under martial law after widespread flooding rendered civil authority ineffective. The state of Louisiana does not have an actual legal construct called 'martial law,' but instead something quite like it: a state of public health emergency. The state of emergency allowed the governor to suspend laws, order evacuations, and limit the sales of items such as alcohol and firearms. The governor's order limited the state of emergency, to end on September 25, 2005, 'unless terminated sooner.'

Contrary to many media reports at the time, martial law was not declared in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, because no such term exists in Louisiana state law. However, a State of Emergency was declared, which does give unique powers to the state government similar to those of martial law. On the evening of August 31, 2005, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin nominally declared 'martial law' and said that officers didn't have to observe civil rights and Miranda rights in stopping the looters. Federal troops were a common sight in New Orleans after Katrina. At one point, as many as 15,000 federal troops and National Guardsmen patrolled the city."

Guns were confiscated and then later released to their owners who could present proof of ownership. Not everyone could do that, however, as there was little way to validate who owned what; probably one of the times that a gun registry would have proved helpful. Note that legally, confiscation under those circumstances shouldn't happen anymore, as law was passed in 2006 "to prohibit the confiscation of a firearm during an emergency or major disaster."

No one seems to care much about the other rights that were violated, or that Federal troops were deployed domestically.

> Universal background checks (depending on how it is executed) equals gun registration.

No it does not. And gun registration does not equal gun confiscation. Gun confiscation like that in Katrina has only happened under rare circumstances, but otherwise only as a matter of public safety.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@53_3 

As someone who owns firearms I find it amusing that people who don't tell me that I'm wrong for supporting gun control.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@grape_crush

I just ignored it, but you're right.  He's predefined hings here.  I'm pro-gun but favor strict gun controls.

According to him, I should be in a knockabout fistfight with myself over this.

aztecian
aztecian

@Tboy68 @EddieVonMises some speech should be limited.  along with that, the crazy azz militia nut-jobs need to have your weapons of mass destruction confiscated.  what is the purpose of owning this crap. are they planning on vacationing in afghanistan???  maybe that is where they belong.

Tboy68
Tboy68

@Heian @Hadrewsky  

Many people would shoot other people to defend their rights. That was what the American Revolution was all about. Every amendment of the constitution was wrote because of an abuse that the British and lawful government committed against the colonists.I ask you Heian if yo think American society is any different now, if the right to free speech, and due process were eliminated? How many rights would need to be eliminated before you think reasonable people would resort to violence to defend those rights? And how many rights would you personally be willing to loose before you resorted to violence? 

 I believe that you are making a great argument to oppose gun control if previous non criminals are turned into criminal because of a new law because the government fears them so much that the government will no longer trust and armed populace.

EduardoBlanco
EduardoBlanco

@grape_crush @EduardoBlancoThe fact that they did not call what they did “Martial Law” doesn't mean that it’s not what happened any less than if they called the Patriot Act the “Disregarding of the Bill of Rights Act”. The effect was the same. And sadly the government did not even admit they had confiscated the guns until pressured legally to do so. I don’t know about you, but if I were in a situation like the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, that’s exactly the time I would need my guns. They only returned the guns after the NRA threatened to take them to court and the law enacted in 2006 was in direct response to this event (also sponsored by the NRA). However, even then the government left themselves wiggle room in the language of the law, and it only pertains to emergencies and disasters. It should have been “under no circumstances unless a crime has been committed”. Gun registration would NOT have been necessary if they did not confiscate them in the first place. Gun registration needs to be 100% off the table, that’s how the law for background checks will get the support it needs. The government has no business knowing what guns the people have, only that they are fit to own them. I think this is a fair compromise to make on both sides. 


EduardoBlanco
EduardoBlanco

@53_3 @EduardoBlanco Well, I don't speak for all gun advocates but I would start with things that had a direct cause\effect relationship with Newtown. First, security of firearms. I think all firearms should be secured from ANYONE that has not undergone the same background checks I have. I don't care if it's your dear old grandma. No one but me has access to firearms in my household. I would also be for penalizing persons who allow their weapons to fall into the wrong hands (if they did not provide reasonable levels of security). Background checks are important, here in NYS I have undergone one for EVERYTHING I have ever brought. If there was some sort of guaranty that background checks did not equal gun registration than I would support it. I would also be for stronger penalties for violent offenders. The man who killed the two firemen in upstate NY had killed his own grandmother with a hammer and was let out to kill again. Mental health issues are of course important to tackle but I feel that it might make a person who would otherwise voluntarily seek mental help reluctant to do so. I think we have to ponder that one a bit more but something needs to be done there as it is the common denominator in all of this.
BTW, thanks for asking in a civil manner. I have been attacked right off the bat for similar posts. 

EduardoBlanco
EduardoBlanco

@53_3 @grape_crush Oh grow up people. If you don't like a question, no one is forcing you to answer it. If I felt compelled to respond to every comment I disagreed with I'd never get anything done. Laughable. 

aztecian
aztecian

@Tboy68 @aztecian @EddieVonMises that was committed by a terror organization and now knives are outlawed on planes.  So what is your point?  do you want to carry and conceal when your on a plane? 

Tboy68
Tboy68

@aztecian @Tboy68 @EddieVonMises  

And in reference to your earlier post about referencing the past the way past against a foreign invading army, the British before the Revolution were our government. We were British and fought a war and won. Then we became Americans.

 And so from your statement I can confer that you think only government from the past can oppress people? And that the US government is different in that it cannot oppress people? I wander if the Native American or black communities agree with that?

Tboy68
Tboy68

@aztecian @Tboy68 @EddieVonMises  

Actually. I have spent quite a bit of time in Afganistan. And when you are referencing weapons of mass destruction you are including box cutters, right? They were used to commit 3,000 murders on September 11th. 

fitty_three
fitty_three

@Heian

paulejb comes to mind, but the mere mention of Srah Palin makes me retch.

aztecian
aztecian

@Tboy68 @Heian @Hadrewsky lame argument.  this is not 1776 and we are not being invaded by a foreign government.  you talk in the past...the way back past.  get with the present day and reality. 

grape_crush
grape_crush

@EduardoBlanco@grape_crush> It should have been “under no circumstances unless a crime has been committed”.

Okay, so you're all for another Newtown or Columbine or Aurora. That is, waiting until after the fact to do nothing to prevent it from happening again.

> ...the law enacted in 2006 was in direct response to this event...

Yes, so using what happened in New Orleans after Katrina hit really isn't applicable, is it? It's more like a ghost story used to frighten children into behaving; the boogeyman government is hiding under your bed and will kidnap your guns unless you say your prayers to the NRA...

> The government has no business knowing what guns the people have...

I would think that a police officer answering a call for a domestic dispute would like to know what they might encounter, don't you? Or that a gun owner who's having a mental breakdown probably shouldn't have access to a firearm.

And again, keeping records of purchases and/or background checks does not infringe on your right to own a gun. Period. This paranoid anti-government silliness is making people irrational and causing them to abandon common sense.


Tboy68
Tboy68

So I am pretty sure that you are not a gun owner because every gun show already has background checks. Any gun dealer has to perform a back ground check or they are breaking the law. This is federal and applies everywhere. Even internet sales have aback ground check. Again if it is a from a licensed gun dealer. The only sales that do not require background checks are between two private citizens. I.e. people that are not gun dealers. So this is like saying that person selling their car who not a car dealer cannot sell a car unless go to a car dealer and submit a back ground check. Now in itself this is not that big of a deal, but what criminal is going to buy a gun from a private citizen and stranger and run down to the gun store to have their background checked out?  What is this law going to solve. Most criminals deal strictly in stolen firearms anyways so they will never submit to a back ground check no matter what the law says.


Tboy68
Tboy68

@BenevolentLawyer 

So I am pretty sure that you are not a gun owner because every gun show already has background checks. Any gun dealer has to perform a back ground check or they are breaking the law. This is federal and applies everywhere. Even internet sales have aback ground check. Again if it is a from a licensed gun dealer. The only sales that do not require background checks are between two private citizens. I.e. people that are not gun dealers. So this is like saying that person selling their car who not a car dealer cannot sell a car unless go to a car dealer and submit a back ground check. Now in itself this is not that big of a deal, but what criminal is going to buy a gun from a private citizen and stranger and run down to the gun store to have their background checked out?  What is this law going to solve. Most criminals deal strictly in stolen firearms anyways so they will never submit to a back ground check no matter what the law says..

fitty_three
fitty_three

@EduardoBlanco @53_3  

I appreciate the thanks for being civil.

I own guns, btw, and was taught to respect firearms. A gun owner that disagrees with the NRA is not a rare bird at all. As for the incivility, some of your compatriots are just as much at fault.

The problem I see though is that you don't favor any gun control at all.  Not only that, you don't even want registration, which at least, seems like it will happen anyway, which is good, I strongly favor.  I'm sorry, but the NRA can go to hell.

Here is a few points to consider:

1. The 2nd Amendment is no more sacred than any of the others.  There are limits to freedoms which I think no one wants to admit on the anti- gun control side. I don't think any right is "inviolable" to the extent that we have to accept the death of kids as the price we pay - specifically, assault rifles.

2. There is no way that profiling will ever get better than around 70% success rate.  That' number is the same as the success rate for properly evaluating mental illness. I think it's a red herring because it is unlikely that there will ever be a time in the near or even more distant future that you won't millions who are either wrongly profiled, or were missed in the profiling process.  A net with gigantic holes.

BenevolentLawyer
BenevolentLawyer

@EduardoBlanco @53_3 Awesome comment! I am a gun owner and I share most of your opinions. PS: Some folks like 53 will engage you and discuss with you, and some will attack you.,, lol.  That's part of being online :) But back to the issue. The entire fear about background checks is being fueled by some aluminum wearing folks on the Far Right. I live in the South and in my state, it has become painful to listen to the local news. It is insane that people are worried that a background check means that the president is getting ready to snatch everyone's guns. I am not kidding when I say that people here are borderline hysterical over the prospect of background checks. At gun shows there are NO background checks, and that has always concerned me. It has to stop!! Background checks should be required for anyone who wants to buy a gun.

I hope the law pass so that everyone's background will have to be checked. Also, I think the mental health system needs an overhaul. They should have a system that red flags folks who have mental health issues, and should red flag those who issue threats. Nobody who threatens to do others harm should have a weapon. 



Heian
Heian

@53_3 @DonQuixotic Oh, wait. Government schools, he was probably telling them "I don't need you telling me how to spell and make words good!"