Republicans in the U.S. Senate had an excellent opportunity yesterday to give the lie to that Daily News cover. They did not avail themselves of it. With the exception of Mark Kirk of Illinois, they all voted against an amendment to prevent those on the FBI’s terror watch list from purchasing firearms.
Calling the measure unAmerican, John Cornyn (R-TX) said it would violate the constitutional rights of someone who was improperly put on the list. It presupposed “that the federal government is omniscient and all-competent,” Cornyn said.
“[W]e have to make sure that we’re not violating a person’s civil liberties or their rights,” said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
These expressions of constitutional propriety would be more impressive if there was evidence of equal Republican concern for the due process rights of Americans killed by drone strikes in the Middle East. As it is, what they show is loyal foot soldiers of the National Rifle Association, which wants as many Americans as possible to buy guns.
Did I mention that the Senate also voted down (once again) a measure to expand background checks for firearms purchased on line and at gun shows?
OK, you say, but the Republicans want to lessen gun violence by improving mental health treatment. And I eagerly await the legislation promised by Speaker Ryan, complete I’m sure with substantial funding for treatment centers and enhanced coverage under the Affordable Care Act. But — and I’m not making this up — the idea is to make it possible for the mentally ill to get back into the firearms market.
In the meantime, as prayers for the victims of terrorism rise to the Almighty, we are left with the message of the New York Post‘s December 3 cover. A message that won’t detract from gun sales.