Photo Credit: Sgt Brian Gamble
In response to a lone gunman killing 10 students at Umpqua Community College on October 2, Democratic senators have introduced a package of gun-control measures that includes the expansion of criminal background checks for gun buyers. Passage in the Senate is unlikely; in the House, where Republicans hold greater sway than in the Senate, impossible. The last time background checks made it to the floor of the Senate was 2013, when in response to a gunman killing 20 children and six adults in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Patrick Toomey co-sponsored an amendment that would have created a national instant-background-check system. On April 17, 2013, the measure failed 54-46. (Senate rules required 60 votes to pass it.)
The vote was a reminder of the buying power of the gun lobby.
Between January 2009 and December 2014, opponents of the amendment, led by the National Rifle Association, contributed $1,106,478 to Republican senators and $70,670 to Democratic senators. The average contribution to senators who voted against the amendment was $25,631. The largest recipient of gun-lobby money was Texas Senator Ted Cruz, with $89,329.
The vote was largely along party (and NRA contribution) lines, although Susan Collins of Maine joined Toomey in breaking with the Senate Republican Caucus.
Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada voted against the amendment, as did Democrats Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Max Baucus of Montana.
In the first eight months of 2015, 9,940 Americans were killed by guns; of these, 550 were children. But Republicans in Congress are unlikely to be moved by gun fatalities.
Image Credit: Kevin Kreneck