A Missed Opportunity
Posted on April 10, 2013
I actually don’t blame some Members of the Senate for threatening to filibuster the still-mysterious gun bill.
Who knows what they have come up with in the back halls of the Congress and who know what they will end up with once this bill gets to the floor.
Mitch McConnell had it exactly right when he held out the right to support a filibuster until he actually got a glimpse of the bill.
I think the whole process has pretty much stunk.
The President has moved too quickly to pass old ideas that wouldn’t have prevented the Newtown tragedy. He has done it because he doesn’t want people to forget “Newtown”.
I will never forget Newtown. Nor have I forgotten Columbine. Or the mass murder at Virginia Tech.
What I haven’t seen, though, is a comprehensive, careful and methodical approach to dealing with these mass shootings.
What I have seen is impatient politicians trying to do their best to best minimal legislation that won’t fix the problem.
The idea that makes the most sense to many Americans is one put forward by the National Rifle Association: Put armed guards in schools.
This is already being done in most urban public school districts. You need armed guards in those schools because violence is such an everyday part of life.
What we need is the same kind of report that went into the 9/11 Commission.
That Commission took a long and deep leak into the security lapses that the terrorists exploited to commit the horrific attacks on September 11th. The Commission angered a lot of people and it made a lot of recommendations that may or may not have been exactly the right thing to do.
But the fact is that we passed those recommendations and we haven’t had a major terrorist attack on our soil since that time. There may or may not be a causal effect, but it doesn’t matter to most voters.
Congress worked. It worked because it had a check-list and it had public pressure put on it by a group of dedicated activists who didn’t have a partisan agenda, just an agenda to make the country safer.
And there were a lot of good, innovative ideas in the Commission report and many of those ideas made into law.
This has not been the case with current debate.
The President pushed for an assault weapons ban, but even if the President had tightened up the ban that had expired years ago, there would be so many loopholes as to make it essentially meaningless.
Reconstituting that ban never was seriously considered by the Senate Majority Leader. And now the Senate is considering a very weak background check that would have done nothing to either Columbine or Newtown.
Instead of being deliberative, smart, innovative or creative, the Senate has been predictable, partisan and largely ineffective.
This gun debate is a real mess and a real missed opportunity to get something good done for the American people.