Political Animal


April 18, 2013 4:30 PM Gun Rally?

By Ed Kilgore

Maybe it’s a product of the false hopes aroused when Manchin-Toomey was unveiled (Wow—Pat Toomey on a gun regulation bill?), but the recriminations and the vows of near-term vindication coming from supporters of this legislation today are both loud and (unfortunately) hollow.

The brave survivor Gabby Giffords is entitled to say whatever she wants on this subject, but her pledge to secure “a different Congress” not under the thumb of the gun lobby isn’t very convincing. Joe Biden caused a flurry by suggesting that the White House plans to undertake “executive action” on guns now that efforts in Congress have failed, but it appears this is mostly about actions announced back in January. And Joe Manchin promised to keep fighting for better background checks, but it sounds like he’s mainly interested in trying to find some formula the NRA will accept (good luck with that one!).

What’s disappointing to me, of course, is that gun regulation advocates seem to be counting on some unprecedented mobilization of public opinion to turn the tide (if it didn’t happen after Newtown, it’s hard to see it happening when memories of Newtown fade, and polls showing Manchin-Toomey as overwhelmingly popular didn’t cut much ice in the Senate), instead of focusing on the immediate cause of the legislation’s defeat: the inability to enact it by a majority vote. At the risk of beating a dead horse, I’ll note again that the false hopes about Manchin-Toomey arose from the successful cloture vote on beginning debate on the measure, even as cloture supporters were openly warning they’d flip when the debate was concluded and the actual votes were cast. I don’t know if it was a strategic error for Harry Reid to accept a unanimous consent agreement to set a 60-vote threshold for all gun bill amendments, since the outcome of an actual cloture vote after an actual filibuster might not have been different. But there’s zero question, on guns and every other issue, that the ability to thwart legislation by 41 Senate votes gives enormous power to the hard-core conservative wing of the GOP, even if its House bastion never comes into play. Filibuster Delenda Est.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • T2 on April 18, 2013 4:43 PM:

    the "hard-core" conservative wing of the GOP (which I'll argue is basically the entire GOP) is running the Senate due to the failure to address the filibuster problem when Reid could have coupled with the six year term and the fact that two nut senators from a tiny state carry as much weight as two from California. And they are also running the House, and will for years to come due to the manipulation of re-districting. Each passing day reveals that the "hard-core" is really now our government, and it's expressed goal is to get the government out of our lives.
    At present, they are succeeding in taking governance out of our lives.

  • RaflW on April 18, 2013 4:51 PM:

    I don't think Gabby Giffords is under any illusion of a sudden change in Congress. But I spontaneously donated to her PAc last night without being solicited by e-mail. Today they wrote and say that nearly 15,000 people donated in the past 24 hours. If that's the case, I'm guesstimating that her pac raised a between $500K and a million bucks in 24 hours. Small bore compared to the NRA's spend, but enough to start scaling up Americans for Responsible Solutions.

    Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns certainly will have some campaign money to move for '14 and '16.

    Look, I think the public is seeing that the NRA has played a very long game. Clearly gun control and gun safety advocates need to start a long plan, too. That starts with an infusion of cash and lists of donor/activists.

  • c u n d gulag on April 18, 2013 4:53 PM:

    The problem is, that there are too may states with two Senators, who only have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, Congresscritters!

    Montana and Alaska, among other states, have 2 Senators to represent them, and only a handful of people in the House, while Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island, Boston, Philly, SF, LA, and Chicago, have 2 Senators, and only a handful of Congresscritters.

    We keep hearing about the “Real ‘Murkanz,” in the “Heartland” or “Homeland” – FSM, how I hate those terms.

    The truth of the matter is that we City-folks, and Suburban-folks, far outnumber those considered to be “Real ‘Murkanz.”
    And the Heartland where the “Real Americans” live, is either a city, or the area sorrounding it.

    But instead of equal representation for us “Real Americans”, we have states represented by two Senators, that also have only one, two, or three Congressmen.
    WTF’s Upwidat?
    How does that make ANY feckin’ sense?

    It doesn’t.
    Or at least it hasn’t since telephones replaced telegraphs, electricity was harnessed for use in peoples homes, cars replaced horses, planes got you somewhere quicker than trains, we got off the gold standard, radio and TV replaced reading the Bible by candlelight, computers not only became faster and better at calculating than a person with an abacus, but could also beat a human in chess, and you can talk or text to pretty much anyone in the world who has a phone, computer, or comparable hand-held device.

    Technology and economics can’t be slowed down while “The Worlds Most Obstinate Against Change, non-Deliberative Body” twiddles its thumbs, waiting for their colleague from some Red State to finish talking about why religion and profits trump science and society, while at the same time he/she is signing the backs of checks from corporations, the NRA, and the grifters from small and mega churches.

    All it’ll take is another little jiggle or two, and we’ll flush ourselves down the sh*tter.

    And you know what, I’m getting a little dizzy going ’round and ’round in circles, being pee’d and pooped on – so maybe a good flush is what we all need.

    Or, at least, those who’ll survive.

    Oh, and sorry about the "scripting errors," I'm too tired, and too pissed-off to deal with them!

  • Peter C on April 18, 2013 5:05 PM:

    Those who filibustered Manchin-Toomey effectively said that it is OK for criminals and the seriously mentally ill to own assault weapons as long as they purchase them from gun shows instead of gun stores. We need to ask them why they think this is a good idea.

  • It will happen again on April 18, 2013 5:16 PM:

    The public will forget Newtown, but sadly their will be another tragic mass shooting soon enough, and when there is, the public will not only be reminded of Newtown, but they will remember how the Senate and the NRA conspired to do nothing to prevent it from happening again.

    This is not a one and done event, it's a process that will take time. Yesterday was the first step toward beating back the Lobby to protect Criminals Kooks and Terrorists also known as the NRA.

  • sjw on April 18, 2013 5:20 PM:

    This might sound unfair, but my opinion is that the defeat of this gun legislation is as much Harry Reid's fault as anyone's. The defeat of Obama's judge appointments is his fault. And the list goes on. Given that Reid refuses to be part of a solution, he is part of the problem.

  • smartalek on April 18, 2013 5:33 PM:

    The gun laws will change when, and only when, one or more "leading" Publican pols and/or major donors loses an immediate family member to a highly publicized mass murder.
    OBVIOUSLY, I am neither suggesting, encouraging, nor hoping for such to happen.
    (I am not a Publican, and do not hold to a "tree of liberty / blood of patriots" "philosophy." No advances in our society are worth the unwilling sacrifice of innocents.)
    But that doesn't change the facts, which we all know to be true.
    The fact that Publicans don't give a damn for any but their own is too well established by now to be even remotely debatable.

  • Mimikatz on April 18, 2013 5:49 PM:

    How many gun safety advocates in the Senate (Hello Dianne Feinstein) refused to support filibuster reform? What did they think would happen?

    I agree with Gulag. Heidi Heitkamp represents 700,000 people while Feinstein and Barbara Boxer represent 38 million people. Heidi represents 2% as many people, and yet she thinks all she has to do is represent the wishes of those 700,000 people. And she voted for the Cornyn Amendment, which would have let people who get concealed carry permits like candy in FL to bring them into any state. Like bring them on their trip to DC??? What a recipe for disaster.

  • mad_nVT on April 18, 2013 6:39 PM:

    Seems that big majorities of women, Hispanics, blacks and Asians all support more gun regulations and enforcement.

    Powerful demographics there. Obama is solidifying that constituency for the Dems and for the better future of the US.

    Eventually there will be more sanity around guns. It'll take awhile.

  • rrk1 on April 18, 2013 6:43 PM:

    A majority of the Senate represents a minority of the population, and that's only the beginning. Whatever happened to "one-man-one-vote"? The Senate is its antithesis.

    Weighted voting would help. Of course, small states with outsized influence, the majority, would object. Unfortunately, our sick system cannot heal itself. It is in terminal gridlock, and therefore in terminal decline.

  • Bonnie on April 18, 2013 7:10 PM:

    Boy, do you know how to rain on someone's parade! If people forget that 20 five and six year olds were massacred, that is really a very sad commentary on the people who live in this country. I thought the editorial was great and hope people will be doing as she asked. I hope people will mail it to their Senators who voted against background checks.

  • Doug on April 18, 2013 8:16 PM:

    "...is that gun regulation advocates seem to be counting on some unprecedented mobilization of public opinion to turn the tide...instead of focusing on the immediate cause of the legislation's defeat: the inability to enact it by a majority vote." Ed Kilgore

    With all due respect, I think Mr. Kilgore is conflating two things here: the *hope* that public opinion would be enough to sway votes in the Senate and yet another display of Republican lock-step opposition to something the country wants done.
    I mean, really, had the legislation passed the Senate, would it *ever* been brought to a vote in the House? Senators aren't the only elected officials in DC who fail to be swayed by public opinion, you know. Nor can I see Boehner coming within ten feet of this toxic, for his party, legislation. It would have been side-tracked to a committee and altered so as to require yet *another* Senate vote.
    And because of the alterations, *that* version would have been voted down as useless. Giving the Republicans another chance to satisfy both the NRA *and* their base.
    I'm *not* in favor of disposing with the filibuster, but I *am* in favor of returning it to its' previous form and making those wishing to support a filibuster actually have to do so by retaining control of the Senate floor; preferably with arguments germaine to the legislation. Had the "talking" filibuster been in place there likely still wouldn't have been enough votes, but those opposing *would* have had to stand up in front of God and country and, most importantly, voters *and* cameras, and defend their refusal to *allow* a vote.
    It's that having to defend a "No" vote in front of the world that is the filibuster's saving brace (for want of better term).
    Not "delende" then, but whatever the Latin word for "return to the original".

  • Clevergirl on April 18, 2013 8:26 PM:

    Honey, get used to the idea that this legislation or something like it is going to happen. The gun lobby is strong but aging. It will lose its grip and fast. Yes, it will probably take another great tradegy but it will happen.

    The gun lobby and industry are acting like the industry is in trouble. Because it is. They are just undermining a weakening position.

    Stop being a friggin defeatist. Frankly I'm tried of it.

  • Epicurus on April 19, 2013 9:54 AM:

    This can not be repeated enough. We MUST end the so-called "filibuster." I don't give a flying frack if Mitch McConnell gets his panties in a wad, or how many complaints there are about the "nuclear option." There is nothing, nada, ZERO in the Constitution which requires a majority vote in the Senate for anything. This is a parliamentary scam, dreamt up by some GOP brainiac, and Harry Reid and his caucus better damn well grow a pair and set this right. It will take 51 votes to change the rules, not 60, and we can end this stranglehold on our democracy. Also, too, do NOT vote any Republicans to the Senate. (Denying them seats in the House would be gravy.) Please stop sending obstructionists to Washington. We need to have a working legislature, not a place where bills go to die. Isn't that what we pay them to do??