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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Defenders of the Bill Of Rights won the Battle, But The War Will Go On

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” — Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Yesterday, without much coverage in the media, the U.S. Senate defeated all of Obama’s proposed gun control legislation. The left-wing media and emotional supporters of gun control like the families of the victims of the Newtown elementary school shooting were aghast at the rebuttal to Obama. Obama, himself, made a televised address from the White House expressing not only his disappointment but also his anger at the Senate for not following his lead. With all due respect to the families of victims of gun violence I believe that the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights are more important than the emotions and politics of the day. This why James Madison wanted two house of Congress — the lower house to respond to the passions of the day and constituents and an upper house to take a longer view and consider the unintended consequences of those passions. Yesterday, much to the chagrin of the progressives and left-wing media, Madison’s plan work — something that does not always happen.

According to the New York Times this was a defeat for “a wrenching national search for solutions to the violence that left 20 children dead in Newtown, Conn.” The NYT went on to report on the facts of the story adding an emotional line here and there — lines such as:

“It was a striking defeat for one of Mr. Obama’s highest priorities, on an issue that has consumed much of the country since Adam Lanza opened fire with an assault weapon in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.”

President Obama, his face set with rage like a petulant child, stood in the Rose Garden surrounded by the families of Newtown and former Representative Gabrielle Giffords and asked how a measure to expand background checks for gun buyers — one supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans and a bipartisan majority of the Senate — had slipped away. His “overwhelming majority” amounted to 51% (according to latest Gallup Poll) when asked if they were dissatisfied with current gun control laws. I would also further remind Mr. Obama and his minions in the media that the same polling organization reported that in April 2013 a mere 4% thought gun control was an important issue. I would ask Mr. Obama what if 90% of Americans wanted to suspend habeas corpus or limit unpopular speech. It would make no difference the Bill of Rights is the Bill of Rights and can only be amended to a two-thirds majority vote in both house of Congress and by a three-forth vote of the states. Also, Mr. Obama we are a nation of laws, not a nation of polls. This is why we have a Constitution and we do not govern by referendum.

Speaking in the Rose Garden as the families of some of the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shootings looked on, Obama vowed to press on in the fight for tougher gun laws.

Caution! This video may be harmful to your mental health

Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders,” he said, standing alongside former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who left Congress after suffering a life-threatening gunshot wound to the head. “A few minutes ago a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even when these families looked on from the gallery.”

A minority? The vote on the Assault Weapons Ban was 60 nays and 40 yeas — that’s some minority.

The president vowed to work without Congress if necessary to do more in his effort to cut gun violence. He said the White House will address barriers to states participating in the existing background check system, give law enforcement more information about lost and stolen guns, and help put emergency plans for schools in place.

These gun control measures went down to defeat because 3 U.S. Senators didn’t listen to the “do something” caucus and the “hand-wringers” parading as leaders in Washington. Instead, Senators Cruz, Lee and Paul circulated a warning prior to the last recess saying they would (gasp) filibuster any legislation that would undermine our God-given, fundamental right to bear arms. It just so happens that this God-given right is enshrined in the Constitution not in the rhetoric of the NRA or any other lobbying group — pro or con. We finally had we Senators — all supported by the Tea Party that took the longer view and exhibited faithfulness to the Constitution rather the passions expressed in the media. Thankfully these fresh faces in the Senate get it.

You know who else gets it? The Gun Owners of America. From the beginning, GOA was standing up tall to defend the Second Amendment on principle — not in a game of political gamesmanship and endorsements of Democrats. They were crystal clear the whole time and led other groups, some of whom get more attention and prominence in the debate, in their direction.

Heritage Action for America also gets a lot of credit for moral clarity and fearlessness at the very beginning of the debate. Their willingness to stand with Senators Cruz, Lee, and Paul at the very beginning helped tremendously.

Yesterday was a textbook example of how grassroots activism makes a difference! But even still, you can be sure that the gun grabbers will be back soon, trying hard to resurrect this issue.

Here are the highlights of what happened on Wednesday:

  1. The most important vote was the Toomey-Manchin-Schumer national gun registry proposal. With 60 votes needed for passage, the Toomey-Manchin-Schumer amendment was shot down by a vote of 54-46.
  2. The Cornyn-Vitter-Thune amendment — pushed hard by Gun Owners of America — received a 57-43 vote This provision would have allowed concealed carry holders and persons in constitutional carry states to carry nationwide. The overwhelming vote on this amendment sets the stage for bringing it up again and again on must-pass legislation.
  3. As predicted, the Feinstein assault weapons ban lost by a vote of 40-60 — falling far short of a majority — and the magazine ban lost by a vote of 46-54.

Today is a day to celebrate! We thank God for all of you and for all the Help that we have received in this long struggle to stop infringements of our liberties.

Here’s what is still left.

Harry Reid’s bill (S. 649) is still on the floor of the Senate, and there are two scheduled votes that will take place today. Eventually, the Senate will vote on whether to end debate on the bill (known as cloture), but that vote won’t necessarily take place today. The Senate will need 60 votes to end debate, but if they can’t reach that threshold, the bill effectively dies.

In the nearly 10 years since the expiration of the assault weapons ban, even modest gun safety legislation has proved impossible to advance on Capitol Hill, where the momentum has been in the other direction, with lawmakers pushing various expansions of gun rights. The 68 votes last week to allow the debate on gun legislation to proceed was a mirage, a temporary triumph granted by senators willing to allow shooting victims and their survivors the vote they sought with absolutely no intention of supporting the final legislation and crossing the gun lobby or constituents who see gun rights as a defining issue.

While the opening vote provided advocates a glimmer of hope, the Newtown shootings, the tearful pleas of the parents of killed children and an aggressive push by the president could not turn the tide. They were no match for the reason. Democrats have avoided gun control fights for years: a combination of the political anxiety of vulnerable Democrats from conservative states, deep-seated Republican resistance and the enduring clout of the National Rifle Association.

At a moment when the national conversation about how best to stem the menace of guns in the wrong hands seemed to have shifted, it turned out that the political dynamic had not.

Yet unlike fiscal fights, in which there are clear partisan divides, just enough Democrats broke with their party to make a difference. While the measure enjoyed the support of a broad swath of Democrats, the four who voted against it were just enough to give Republicans the numbers for the bill’s demise, along with the political cover that it was a bipartisan decision.

“It’s dangerous to do any type of policy in an emotional moment,” said Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, a Democrat up for re-election next year who voted with three other Democrats and 41 Republicans against the compromise. Begich stated: “Because human emotions then drive the decision. Everyone’s all worked up. That’s not enough.”

In truth, the Democratic support for the compromise background check measure was slightly better than it might have been, with Senator Mary L. Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat who faces re-election next year, joining in support of it along with some other red-state colleagues who were iffy.

But after the vote for the assault weapons ban cost Democrats seats in 1994, red-state Democrats have steered clear of gun safety measures, judging that the political fury of opponents would not be offset by support from those who favor tighter controls.

The vote was also a warning to lawmakers who have embarked on the precarious bipartisan search for new immigration laws; while the issues are politically distinct, the process of melding a host of values on an emotional issue can be easily derailed. And the White House, unable to deliver 60 votes for a centerpiece of its agenda with 55 Democratic controlled seats, enters the immigration debate potentially weakened.

The defeat of the gun control effort will test the financial and political prowess of gun regulation advocates, notably Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, who have vowed to vigorously attack opponents of the background check measure in the next election cycle

Kudos to Senators Cruz, Lee and Paul for being willing to provide leadership where there has been none. As a passionate student of the Constitution I applaud their actions.

Now — on to Immigration!

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