Shame on the Senate (the Senate as Sham)

“I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither.” Gabby Giffords.

Yesterday was an awful day to pretend to have faith in the American political system. In the wake of overwhelming support for the mildest of common sense gun laws – an expansion of background checks to prevent the easy purchase of guns by felons and save lives in the process – the United States Senate failed to reach the necessary votes. Somehow, the measure lost by 46 votes to 54. (45 to 55 if you allow for Senator Reid’s procedural ‘no’ vote.)

Quite how we have ended up living in a country where 46% of the vote becomes the majority is beyond me – as with most Americans who would like to do away with the Filibuster as it is abused and misused by a Republican party whose primary intent is to prevent President Obama from achieving anything whatsoever during his terms as democratically elected President.

Quite how so many Senators would look at the facts, the “disease” by which we murder each other with firearms at the rate of 11,000 people a year and kill ourselves with firearms at the rate of almost 40,000 a year, and choose to do nothing would also be beyond me, if I hadn’t recently sat and listened to a Republican Congressman taking much the same view in a closed room. I take some comfort from the fact that, in the immediate wake of yesterday’s vote, those who want to see common sense gun laws in the States simply rolled up their sleeves and vowed to continue the honorable battle to save lives. I was inundated with positively constructed e-mails by organizations that have been in this for a long time and are not about to give up yet. I take some more comfort from checking on William Wilberforce‘s near life-long battle to abolish slavery in Britain. He first introduced a bill to Parliament in 1791. It was eventually passed in 1807. Progress moves slowly. But it moves.


In the meantime, a politician who actually knows what it’s like to be shot in the head by someone who should never have access to that firepower, a politician who saw people die in the process, including a 6-year old girl who had her whole life before her, has written an eloquent editorial in today’s New York Times. Bravo Gabby Giffords, her husband Mark Kelly, and all who will not rest until we make this country safer.

A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip

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November 2022