Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Thoughts on the Filibuster

It's past 1 a.m. in D.C., Senator Chris Murphy continues to hold the Senate floor and this post already feels like the scene in "The Stackhouse Filibuster" from season 2 of The West Wing.

It's a proud night for Democrats, most of us anyway. Our party is showing real courage tonight in standing up and letting common sense be voiced about gun violence in this country. Unfortunately, not all Democrats (even the faux Democrats) see it this way. One such "Democrat" who spent the entire presidential primary telling us he was better on the issue of guns than Hillary Clinton, is not on the floor of the Senate or even in D.C. He's not out on the trail, the primary is over. He's home in Vermont after having started his day in D.C. I suppose this is why they say there's been a convoluted relationship between Sanders and the NRA over the years.

I've written about guns before. Last time the Senate took up the Manchin-Toomey bill, I wrote a detailed account of how some of the worst mass shootings in recent memory fit in my own personal history. I even shared a piece a friend of mine wrote about guns in the wake of Newtown. Nothing about the past week, unfortunately, has changed how we address gun violence in this country. It is both mind-numbing and infuriating at once.

Does the death of 49 people, LGBT Americans, at the hands of what we are calling a radicalized terrorist change minds about controlling gun violence? If so, why? If anything should change about how terrorists access guns in this country in the wake of Orlando or any other massacre carried out by a terrorist (non-domestic), it will be a net-gain to have the change, but how can we live with ourselves for waiting for an ISIS fighter or al Qaeda sympathizer to get a gun and massacre Americans before we finally acted? 20 children, babies, were slaughtered in their classrooms and we did nothing. But 1 guy who aligns himself with a terrorist organization that we are at war with (declaration of war also being avoided by the cowards in Congress) and it's time to start worrying about who gets weapons of war in this country.

I'm not criticizing the Democrats in the Senate, God knows they're doing everything they possibly can, as much as I am criticizing the system and the country as a whole. The American people should be holding their representatives' feet to the fire while very loudly insisting they disavow the NRA. What we should do and what we do are rarely the same.

It appears at this late hour that the action on the floor of the Senate will now include bringing for a vote 2 measures that would keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. The votes are riddled with pitfalls for Republican senators who are supposed to be hardline conservatives on terror while also foot soldiers for the NRA.

While it seems like progress, we are no closer to answering to the number of assault weapons being used to kill Americans. We are no closer to answering to weapons ending up in the hands of the mentally ill.

We have so much still to accomplish.