With 54 of 100 senators voting in favor, and strong popular support in the country, Senate Bill 649 was defeated yesterday. The Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, a compromise offered by NRA members Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia and Patrick Toomey (R) of Pennsylvania, would have required background checks for online and gun show sales only. But the National Rifle Association, which once supported such checks, threw its money and muscle into the fight, as Wayne LaPierre, its executive vice president, has emerged from the carnage in Newtown as one of the most powerful men in America. We have come a long way since 2000, when a single Supreme Court vote gave George Bush the mandate to invade Iraq. Yesterday, a majority of senators could not pass a bill. Much is being made of the partisan nature of the vote: only four Democrats voted no and four Republicans voted yes. But consider this: according to a recent study, the ten states with the most gun violence are: (10) Georgia; (9) Arkansas; (8) Missouri; (7) New Mexico; (6) South Carolina; (5) Mississippi; (4) Arizona; (3) Alabama; (2) Alaska; (1) Louisiana. In those ten states, 15 senators (75%) voted against SB 649, including two of the four Democrats, Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. The only Republican to vote yes was John McCain.
Note the absence from the list of all those big urban states, which are actually curbing gun violence in their cities. Meanwhile, the most gun-violent states want no checks. Sometimes you reap what you sow.