“They deserve a vote!” has been the quote coming out of the White House since the State of the Union Address. And unless you’ve been living under rock, or only watch Fox News, you know that this is a call for a vote on gun laws in Congress for the victims of the Newtown, CT massacre and their families. As of today, the legislation being debated is a universal background check system for all gun sales. FINALLY, it has made it to the floor of the Senate (and let’s not even talk about the House). In case you didn’t know, 92% of Americans are in favor of universal background checks (Source: NPR). Even my super conservative, Afghanistan veteran, concealed gun-carrying, Republican friend from Texas is in favor of tighter background checks.
He posted on Facebook the other day a sarcastic status about how his .45 pistol was locked up in a case and hadn’t killed anyone yet, even though he would rather leave it out in case he had to use it for home defense.
Never mind the fact that nobody is trying to stop my friend from keeping it in his own home however he pleases, but obviously I felt the need to ask him about his feelings on assault rifle bans, background checks, and gun safety. His response was essentially just “Second Amendment,” with a very pleasant friend of his calling me a “Commy[sic] Fuck.” After some debate and pressing him on assault rifle and high capacity magazine bans, which he is NOT for (I won’t even delve into the shitstorm that was), we came to the conclusion that we both agreed on universal background checks to make sure criminals and the mentally ill aren’t purchasing weapons.
So if this guy who is probably one of the most conservative people I know, especially when it comes to guns, can agree with me that we should have universal background checks, why the hell has it been so difficult to get it to a floor vote? Only today did 48 Democrats and 16 Republicans even vote to START the floor debate (source: Politico). So thank you, Senate Republicans, for
doing your job as Senators this minuscule victory for gun control advocates. But even still, there are ton of procedural hurdles that need to be jumped, and certainly doesn’t guarantee passage of any new legislation. Even if there is, I’m sure we’ll have to debate on some completely irrelevant amendments like ‘personhood’ or some shit.
So, since the Republicans aren’t going to lead on this, and the Democrats apparently can’t do anything without 60 votes in the Senate, the White House decided to let their crown jewel; their big guns (no pun intended…unless we’re talking arms), Michelle Obama go out to the Windy City to jump into the gun debate. Watch her full remarks below.
When I first heard that FLOTUS (‘First Lady Of The United States’ for all of you non-West Wing watchers or Hill employees) was jumping into the gun debate, I’m not going to lie, I got pretty excited. She’s easily the most likable person in the White House, and could definitely get a few more people on board if given the right speech. But unfortunately this one just fell flat.
This was as much of a speech on our crumbling inner-cities, income inequality, and privilege as it was about gun violence. While her speech was certainly heartfelt (she gets choked up late in the speech) and sincere, it was the safest thing they could have had FLOTUS do when it came to gun control. And therein lies the problem.
The White House and Congressional Democrats needed to pounce on the Sandy Hook tragedy. I realize that sounds terrible, but rarely do you see such a huge political opportunity come out of such a hurtful tragedy. But look at the Republicans. President Bush went to war with Iraq, who didn’t even attack us on 9/11, what…maybe 4 months after? And I think getting combat ready troops into another country to settle a grud…sorry, “liberate” the country is a bit harder than passing legislation…or at least it should be. Point being, Democrats needed a bill written and a floor debate back in January, not April. While a lot of that is the fault of obstructionist Republicans, the Democrats need to man (or woman) the fuck up and not let them get away with it.