I wish we were talking about a true change of heart on the part of many Democratic politicians, but the reluctance to pursue new gun control legislation in the wake of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York appears to be based far more on political calculations than any scales falling off the eyes of gun-banners in Congress.
Still, there are growing grumbles of dissatisfaction among gun control activists who say Democrats should be pushing for new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, even if the prospects of passage are slim to none.
Alex Barrio, with the Center for American Progress, says following the mass shooting in Buffalo, Senate Democrats are largely avoiding talking about new control measures. Barrio explained “Democrats are divided.”
“The House, which can act, which has acted, which wants to act on this feels this sense of futility. Because again, a handful of senators who would rather just wash their hands of the whole issue, side with the conservatives and pretend that nothing’s going to happen – pretend that they can’t do anything,” Barrio said.
Barrio didn’t say what, exactly, anti-gun senators can do other than to bring forward bills that don’t have the votes for passage, but I guess at this point the gun control lobby is willing to settle for political theater on Capitol Hill if they can’t actually pass legislation.
Last week we talked about the reluctance
of Senate Democrats like Dick Durbin to indulge the desires of the gun ban crowd, and now other senators are going public with their reluctance to spend much time on the issue between now and the midterms, though most of them are portraying their reservations as more frustration with Republicans than anything else.
Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO) explained “I think people are frustrated, that again and again despite best efforts the Senate has been unwilling to just work through what universal background checks would look like.”
Senators John Hickenlooper and Mark Warner both expressed no hope of passing a universal background check bill.
“Do I think it’s going to get 60 votes? Probably not. But I do think it’s important that the American people, you, are able to judge senator by senator where you stand on responsible gun safety legislation,” Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) said.
Note, by the way, that both Hickenlooper and Warner are talking specifically about a universal background check bill; a measure that, even it had been law at the time of the Buffalo attack would not have had an impact because the suspect went through and passed a background check before legally purchasing a firearm at retail. The reason why gun control activists have decided to make that the focus of their (ineffective) lobbying efforts at the moment has nothing to do with the actual policy at hand and far more to do with the politics of the moment. They view universal background checks as the easiest lift in the Senate, especially since a bill has already passed the House, so even though they can’t plausibly claim that the measure would have prevented the heinous crime in Buffalo, it’s still their “do something” soundbite solution.
Fortunately for those of us who don’t believe that an ineffective and unconstitutional gun control law is the best way to fight the scourge of violent crime and targeted attacks like the one in Buffalo, it looks like even the “easy” lift is unachievable for Senate Democrats… at least at the moment. Democrats could probably get to 60 votes on a bill that would expand access to mental health resources, but that doesn’t appear to be a priority or even an option for Schumer and his Senate cohorts in the Democratic caucus.