Senate and NRA should be ashamed

April 21, 2013 

As we warned in an editorial Monday, gun control measures faced a perilous road in Congress. On Wednesday, even the most benign, commonsense proposal to close the loophole on background checks for gun purchases met a dead end.

You can thank twisted Senate rules that make a majority vote — 54 senators voted for the compromise background check legislation hammered out by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. — into a nonstarter. To reach the magic “majority” and prevent a filibuster the Senate needed 60 votes.

Four Democrats in red-leaning states apparently feared the wrath of the National Rifle Association, which once had backed background checks and now pretends that extending the background checks (still required at gun shops) to traveling gun shows and the Internet would be an assault on the Second Amendment. So the four voted against it. Shameful.

You can blame, too, Republican senators who played it safe despite all the carnage.

Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio keeps harping that the culture of violence must be changed, but he refuses to see the practicality of instant background checks that have, indeed, turned away scores of criminals from buying guns legally at stores. He voted No. Shameful.

Anyone can buy weapons or high-capacity magazines over the Internet without having to succumb to a background check. They can go to gun shows and buy without any criminal check.

The Manchin-Toomey compromise would have put an end to that insanity. Criminals and those adjudicated to be a danger to themselves and others because of mental illness would have been cut off from buying guns legally.

Would they buy guns in the black market or simply steal them from a law-abiding citizen? Criminals will be criminals, but today we make it too easy for them to legally obtain weapons. The Second Amendment does not protect criminals. Yet the NRA was doing exactly that by spreading outright lies during the Senate debate — making it seem that a gun owner couldn’t even sell his or her gun to a neighbor, family or friend without a background check or that the legislation would create a national registry. Shameful, indeed.

The Miami Herald

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