The Senate’s failure to approve expanded control over gun sales reflects the abyss that exists between political power in Washington and the rest of the people.
The massacre of more than 20 children and six adults in Newtown shook public opinion. As a result, nine in 10 Americans support background checks for gun sales. However, the bill was defeated when it did not achieve the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster by more than a dozen Republican senators.
This was the triumph of a campaign of lies launched by the National Rifle Association (NRA) to defeat a watered-down bipartisan version of the original bill that was negotiated by two moderate senators.
Some lawmakers repeated the usual hypocrisy that is expressed in these cases, that the bill does nothing about the criminals and that there are already enough laws on the books. These lawmakers are the same ones who on purpose weaken the federal agencies in charge of enforcing these laws. Yesterday, not even the tepid measure clarifying arms-trafficking laws passed.
Firearms have always been a thorny subject that divides the country according to geography and demographics. The horror at Sandy Hook Elementary shook civic consciousness when a young man with mental issues used a semiautomatic weapon to cause the deaths of children.
This incident was enough to transform public opinion even four months after the murders. It is shameful that our representatives haven’t reflected this shift. It is outrageous for lawmakers to be more afraid of the NRA’s political muscle than of disappointing their constituents; that they accepted the lies of lobbyists instead of confronting them with the truth.
We can ask ourselves if Sandy Hook was not enough to bring a pinch of common sense to the issue of firearms: How many more dozens of children must get killed before we can achieve a reasonable change?