A Failure to Act

By Hashim Arain

On Wednesday of last week, the United States senate rejected a bill which would have provided stronger background checks on all gun purchases. It was defeated, which is a huge step backward for gun control advocates. This topic has dominated news headlines since the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and brought to the media’s attention any time a gun crime was committed, such as the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

According to CNN, this bill included an expansion of background checks for purchases of firearms, as well as instituting a complete ban on military style assault weapons. CNN also noted that the cause for the defeat of this bill was the powerful opposition led by the National Rifle Association, which Republicans strongly support. CBS News reported that the two senators who were sponsors of this bill, Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania negotiated for weeks trying to gain support from the Republicans in the Senate. 60 votes were needed to pass the bill, but it only received 54.

Manchin and Toomey spent countless hours, weeks and months trying to whip up some type of support for their legislation, but sadly came up short. There has been a lot of public opinion polling which was released throughout the debate, and according to USA Today, they showed that 90% of Americans did support universal background checks.

Congress has done a great disservice to America, and especially those directly, and even indirectly affected by the many cases of gun violence we’ve had in the past months. This bill was a large package of proposals limiting the tide of gun violence that has now become a day-to-day thing in this country. What the public wanted was for the government to come up with reasonable solutions on fixing this horrible problem, and the government did not deliver.

It’s extremely unfortunate that it had to take a tragedy like the one in Newtown for Congress to even try and work on a gun control bill, and once it is presented, it failed to pass. This bill didn’t pass for the same reason why congressional legislation seldom passes in Washington – and that is partisanship.

You would think that with recent shootings that have occurred, the Senate would put politics aside and come together to vote on this significant piece of legislation, but it is the same gridlock we’ve been witnessing forever. However, part of this bill’s failure to pass was based on the NRA’s pressure on lawmakers to vote against this bill. And what’s frustrating is that some of these congressmen couldn’t stand up to the NRA and vote for this bill in fear of losing their funding and support.

The families of those who were killed were counting on Congress to pass a bill like this so that it does not happen to anyone else; but, like I said, the government has failed them. It was Congress’ best shot to tackle the issue, and now they have to start their long and hard fight all over again. Some of these lawmakers should grow a backbone and ought to be ashamed of themselves for voting against a bill that would protect American citizens.