As you might have heard, there were four amendments considered today in the US Senate, each aimed at closing the “Terror Gap” or expanding background checks. Each of the bills would make it harder for people who shouldn’t have guns to get guns, and were respectively authored by Sen. Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Feinstein (D-CA)… and, wait for it… Sen Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Grassley (R-IA)! Nope that last part is not a typo. Two Republicans, neither of which are particularly moderate nor serve a predominately urban constituency, authored bills to address gun violence.
Of course, just like always the big, bad NRA came in and bought everyone else’s vote.
Ashamed & disgusted that the Senate works for the @NRA & not the majority of Americans who support basic solutions to stop gun violence.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 20, 2016
Oh wait a second… the NRA endorsed the Cornyn Amendment! Well gee, it would seem that if the Senate worked for the NRA they would be able to pass NRA-supported legislation pretty easily. Apparently not though. Maybe, just maybe, those other senators don’t work for the NRA, but voted their conscience, which happens to differ from Senator Warren’s.
Their opinions differ with good reason. Let’s focus on the so-called “terror gap.” The terror gap means that individuals suspected of terrorist activity and under FBI investigation are not barred from purchasing a gun. The Feinstein amendment would give the FBI the unilateral ability to decide whether someone would be allowed to purchase a gun, based on the reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in terrorist activity. Of course, the FBI is quite possibly the worst judge of this, as they are more interested in telling people they are racist for calling a terrorist a terrorist. In fairness, they have a lot on their plate fighting the actual “biggest” terror threat to America. So how do we stop terrorists from getting guns? How about creating a mandatory waiting period of up to 3 days for any purchaser under FBI investigation, during which time the FBI must actually present evidence and the purchaser would have the right to due process and to face their accuser. That’s why Senator Cornyn wrote an amendment that did just that. And the NRA endorsed it!
You would never know this from the world’s reaction.
I just wish Republicans took 32,000 gun deaths a year as seriously as they take to problem of too many Americans having health insurance.
— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) June 21, 2016
Republicans insist this shooting was a terrorist issue, but won't enact laws to bar terrorists from buying guns? ??
— Jon Cozart (@joncozart) June 20, 2016
It’s hard to believe that our GOP colleagues voted to allow suspected terrorists to buy guns. We will keep pushing till they see the light.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 20, 2016
And that’s the issue. Democrats always push this narrative, and they always get away with it. The outrage, real or otherwise, is palpable among Democratic senators right now. They believe its unconscionable that Republicans don’t care about common sense gun reforms. The media narrative, even when coverage is balanced, will be framed within that paradigm. Now, I explained the two competing amendments above. Did that sound like only one side wanted to take action, or did it sound like a reasonable debate between two groups that both want to stop terrorists from getting guns? If your answer is the former, I advise you to re-read or perhaps do some research.
The same thing happened with healthcare. The narrative was that Republicans wanted to repeal Obamacare with no plan to replace it. This was despite the fact that there were many plans presented, including one by now-Speaker Paul Ryan. Of course Democrats just dismiss these by suggesting they are not real proposals. Uh, okay, Democrats. I’m not surprised you don’t like our ideas. That doesn’t mean our ideas don’t exist. This is like playing a game with a 4-year-old. “No that doesn’t count because I don’t like it and I wanna win!” I could just as easily dismiss their ideas. Most conservatives don’t like Obamacare and genuinely believe it will make things worse. That doesn’t mean we get to go around saying that “Democrats just blocked all our common sense proposals and refused to take action on health care.” That would simply be untrue, and its equally untrue when Democrats say it.
The same standard should apply in this situation. When someone like Chuck Schumer says it’s hard to believe that Republicans “voted to allow suspected terrorists to buy guns,” he should be called right away on the fact that he also voted for this in rejecting the Cornyn Amendment. That will never happen though. Cornyn would be ridiculed and lampooned if he were ever to make that same statement about Democrats. It’s just another example of Republicans being called the “Party of No,” despite the fact that they said “yes” to a legitimate solution to the problem. The Republicans will always be accused of inaction, unless the action they take is one that a Democrat would support. This narrative will no doubt continue to prevail, and push more Americans away from the GOP for being too extreme.
What does this all mean? Well, I’m actually optimistic. It means that Democrats know our ideas would be popular if the people actually had a chance to hear them. They continue to outpoll us on the issues, but only because they’ve convinced the American people that the Democrats the only ones trying. We are fortunate to have a whole new world of media that we need to embrace to start getting our ideas out there. I believe that there would be a small government renaissance if the people really got to know what we stood for.