Many Americans learned a sad lesson this week about the power of lies, the influence of money and lobbying in politics, and the brazen disregard that some members of Congress hold for the opinions of their fellow citizens.
The Senate rejected a set of serious proposals this week to curb gun violence that followed in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, where a mentally disturbed gunman murdered 20 first-graders and six others at their elementary school.
Unexplainable to many Americans is the failure of the Senate to pass even the most common sense ideas that have been proposed since the tragedy: the expansion of background checks that could keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
For weeks, officials with the National Rifle Association have pressed the lie that the law allowing greater background checks would create a federal gun registry — even though the measures proposed in the Senate would have outlawed that very thing. So, too, was a companion falsehood: that increased background checks would violate citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
Earlier this year, the Bainbridge Island City Council passed a resolution in support of President Obama’s package of greater gun restrictions, which included closing the gun show loophole on background checks, and bans on military style assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
The president said this week the Senate’s failure to act marked “a pretty shameful day for Washington.”
He’s right. Any day that the Senate can ignore a measure such as increased background checks — a proposal supported by more than 90 percent of the public — is indeed a shameful day.
Islanders who supported the city council’s resolution and action to bring some semblance of sanity to our nation’s gun laws should not be forever deterred, however. Instead, let’s redouble our efforts to get sensible restrictions passed in Congress and remind our elected officials that we will remember their leadership, or lack thereof, on this critical issue.