Just before the latest NRA-GOP massacre of school children-- the one in Uvalde-- Morning Consult did a poll for Politico that asked respondents which congressional party would be a better option for handling gun policy. The answer might surprise you:
no opinion- 16%
The reason I thought you might find it surprising, or at least counter-intuitive, is because of another question the same day: How important of a priority should passing legislation placing additional restrictions on gun ownership be?
A top priority- 34%
An important, but lower priority- 22%
Not too important a priority- 14%
Should not be done- 23%
No opinion- 7%
How do you reconcile the fact that 56% of Americans want Congress to pass legislation placing additional restrictions on gun ownership with the fact that 44%, a plurality, of Americans trust Republicans-- who universally oppose that-- to handle gun policy? Paul Gosar is a Republican member of Congress, albeit a mentally deranged fascist who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a gun. He deleted this deceitful tweet 2 hours after posting it but if he apologized, he must have deleted that too. The false information has proliferated all over far right social media, although Salvatore Ramos is not a transsexual, not a leftist, not an illegal alien-- just a crazy 18 year old gun-nut and Wendy's employee, allowed to buy multiple military-grade weapons by Republicans like Gosar. We also know that Ted Cruz doesn't want anyone politicizing the tragedy, although I don't think he means Gosar.
In any case, Schumer moved yesterday to call for Senate votes on bills-- not to legislate gun control but to legislate background checks. Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmondson reported that "The pair of bills would expand criminal background checks to would-be gun buyers on the internet and at gun shows and lengthen the waiting period for gun buyers flagged by the instant background check system to allow more time for the F.B.I. to investigate. The measures, passed by the House in 2019 and again last year, have languished in the Senate amid Republican opposition. Even as they publicly mourned the massacre that killed 19 children and two adults on Tuesday, Republican senators gave little indication that their positions had changed."
So today Schumer backed down and said, basically, never mind, the Republicans will filibuster it so we might as well not even try. Instead Schumer will leave it to Chris Murphy (D-CT) to try, as he's been without a scintilla of success since 2012, to negotiate a bipartisan deal with Joe Manchin and Susan Collins, who will stall and dance around the issues until everyone forgets the 21 people killed in Uvalde.
Cochrane and Edmondson reported that NRA Senator Ted Cruz told reporters that he blames Democrats "and a whole lot of folks in the media" for rushing to "try to restrict the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens."
This morning, just hours later, The Hill reported that "Schumer said he thought that bringing gun-control legislation in the immediate aftermath of Buffalo and Uvalde, where two lone shooters left a total of 31 people dead in the span of 10 days, would be fruitless because of staunch Republican opposition to such reforms. He noted that Republicans opposed proposals to expand background checks, ban assault-style weapons and prohibit high-capacity magazines after a gunman killed 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. 'If the slaughter of schoolchildren can’t convince Republicans to buck the NRA, what can we do?' he said."
“Sadly, this isn’t a case of the American people now knowing where their senators stand. They know. They know because my Republican colleagues are perfectly clear on this issue. Crystal clear.”
“Republicans don’t pretend that they support sensible gun safety legislation. They don’t pretend to be moved by the fact that 90 percent of Americans, regardless of party, support something as common sense as background checks, that the vast majority of gun owners support the background checks bill,” he said.
Schumer said he would hold legislation from the floor to give Murphy and other colleagues a chance to negotiate bipartisan legislation that has a better chance of passing.
“Americans can cast their vote in November for senators or members of Congress that reflect how he or she stands with guns,” he said. “In the meantime, my Republican colleagues can work with us now. I know this is a slim prospect, very slim, all too slim. We’ve been burnt so many times before. But this is so important.”
One promising candidate for action is “red flags” legislation crafted by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would authorize and establish procedures for removing firearms from people judged a danger to themselves or others.
Graham and centrist Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) co-sponsored Blumenthal’s Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act in the last Congress.
Schumer held out hope that Republicans will come around to supporting gun violence measures at some point in the future, even if he doesn’t see a chance of passing reform proposals anytime soon.
“I have such a firm belief, taught to me by my late father … that if you do the right thing and persist, justice will eventually prevail. But you got to keep persisting, and we will,” he said.
He offered the slim hope that Murphy and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) who negotiated a narrowly crafted bill to expand background checks with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) in 2013, would be able to reach some kind of agreement with Republicans in the next several weeks or months.
“Democrats have been trying to work hard with Republicans, Sen. Murphy, Sen. Manchin, on legislation that will eventually pass and become law,” he said. “The other side has refused. There are so many options available to us. So many ideas. We just need some brave Republicans to stand before history and yell stop.”
Murphy told reporters on Thursday that he would like to get 10 Republican votes to pass a bill so he’s not looking for a quick vote on gun-control legislation that would likely break down along party lines and fail.
“Right now my focus is on getting a result so I’m not ready to take this to the electorate. I would like to find a path forward with Republicans and Democrats in the next week or so and if we fail-- and we failed before-- then certainly this ultimately becomes a choice for the voters,” he said.
Murphy’s home-state colleague, Sen. Richard Blumenthal. however, is ready to put Republican senators-- and even Democratic moderates-- on the record by bringing legislation to the floor for a vote.
“We need to move forward. Democrats have a number of realistic sensible proposals to stop this needless senseless violence. I’m very hopeful that we’ll come together. All we’ve heard from Republicans is negative. But we have an obligation to act. To put our colleagues on record,” he said.
Blumenthal also suggested the Senate skip the Memorial Day recess to get a bill ready for the floor.
“I think we need to move forward as quickly as possible,” he said.
“Put people on the record and Americans have the right to know where we stand on stopping gun violence and we are going to do it as quickly as practically possible,” he said.
Blumenthal is right. Schumer, Manchin, Murphy, Collins and the rest of the clowns are wrong. And Trump was smart to insist that all guns be banned while he speaks at the NRA convention in Houston on Friday. Whole lotta shootin' goin' on-- at least in the U.S.
On her blog this morning, Bari Weiss noted that the mass murder in Uvalde yesterday "is the 212th mass shooting this year. It is the 27th school shooting. It is also the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. so far in 2022, which says something because it happened just 10 days after 10 people were killed in a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket."
How have we normalized the fact that innocent people in this country can step onto a subway car or go to a grocery store or a synagogue or a church or a concert or a baseball game or a party or a car show or to work and maybe they will just be gunned down? How have we gotten accustomed to—let’s call it what it is-- child sacrifice?
There is a deep sickness in this country. It goes beyond our addiction to guns. It’s an anti-social, anti-human disease that has gripped our society and our politics.
A big part of that disease is how numb we have become to violence. The country has been experiencing the largest crime surge in decades. Armed robberies are up. Shoplifting is up. Road deaths are up. Car break-ins are so common in some cities that people leave notes on their windows to the thieves that nothing is inside.
But the most devastating rise has been in murders. Since the FBI started tracking the data, 2020 marked the highest single-year increase in homicides. In 2021, it went up again.
As of 2020, the leading cause of death among children in America is guns. Not cars. Not drugs. Guns. It was also the year that we had the highest rate of gun sales in American history.
...[M]entally ill people getting their hands on guns to commit mass murder this easily is deranged and wrong. Accepting this as normal has nothing to do with respecting the Second Amendment. You don’t need another writer pointing out that this doesn’t really happen in other places and maybe the fact that America has more guns than any other nation on Earth has something to do with it. There’s nothing well-regulated about Salvador Ramos, though it appears he bought those assault rifles legally on his 18th birthday. There’s simply no world in which our founders would look at inner-city gun violence and these sick teenagers in suburban schools and say this was their intention.
Gun rights activists will argue that other countries have guns and that murderers don’t need guns to kill and that some of the cities and states with the strictest gun laws in the country have the highest rates of violent crime and that people kill people guns don’t kill people and that anyway good guys with guns kill bad guys with guns. (Uvalde police officers and a school resource officer reportedly fired at the shooter. They couldn’t stop him.)
Here’s where I think they are right, if inadvertently: The social rot that’s come over America, the nihilism and hatred of each other, is part of the cause here. The dissolution of our social ties-- and with them the accountability and responsibility that an actual community demands-- has allowed insanity to fester unnoticed. Lockdowns accelerated the isolation, the purposelessness, the lack of meaning that was already overcoming us.
If we insist on viewing this shooting as part of some isolated issue or species of violence, then we miss the point. The point is the country is being consumed by what Philip Roth famously called “the indigenous American berserk.” It stretches back many decades, or longer, and for ages, it was possible to ignore or compartmentalize. Now the brokenness is everywhere we look and it is impossible to unsee it.
Beto confronted Texas murderer Greg Abbott today-- and was escorted out of the auditorium because, you know, Texans like their decorum.