Four measures came before Congress today and none received enough votes to pass
Improved restrictions on gun control will not happen today. Democrats and Republicans voted this afternoon on four measures meant to expand background checks for gun buyers and restrict gun sales to people on terror watch lists, but all of them fell short of the 60 votes necessary for passage.
The two measures introduced by Democrats fell by a vote of 44-56, and the other two, introduced by Republicans, went down 53-47. Votes for each were split mostly along party lines with the right saying the left’s proposal was too restrictive, while the left accused the right of being too weak. The National Rifle Association has been lobbying heavily for lawmakers to vote against the Democrats’ proposals.
So we’ve ended up with gridlock. Again.
A big difference between the two approaches came down to severity of background checks. An amendment introduced by California Senator Diane Feinstein would permit the government to “block many gun sales to known or suspected terrorists.” The GOP answer to that came from Texas Senator John Cornyn: The government could block gun sales to those people, but only if a judge could be convinced within three days that the prospective buyer was linked to terrorism.
At least both parties found common ground, if only temporarily: Both Cornyn and Feinstein’s amendments would require law enforcement to be notified if people like the Orlando shooter, who had been investigated for terrorist ties, tried to buy guns.
Of the stalemate, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said, “Republicans should be embarrassed.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of using the issue at hand “as an opportunity to push a partisan agenda.” But unfortunately for both parties, insulting the other side of the aisle doesn’t accomplish much (though it may score you brownie points among those entertained by political sick burns).
Stricter gun control measures were introduced to the senate after the San Bernardino shooting in December, and none of those passed either. Fourteen people were killed in that tragedy, and the death toll climbed to 49 in Orlando. So it seems like we’re searching for the magic number of fatalities that will galvanize this congress to actually do something meaningful about gun violence.
So what’s next? Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine is reportedly working on a bi-partisan proposal, and the senate has not ruled out another vote later on this week. Collins’ plan would prevent people on the no-fly list from buying guns, but according to ABC News, “There were no signs Monday that it was getting wide support or would receive a vote.”
Stay tuned. In the meantime, it’s worth a visit to Everytown for Gun Safety, where you can see which senators took a stand, and which ones refused to budge—you can even call them to tell them what you think about their vote.