The United States Senate, last Monday, once again proved itself incapable of acting in any reasonable way, or in fact, acting at all, on the matter of regulating guns. This may be part of the reason that Congress’ approval ratings are still hovering at historical lows of about 13%.
There were four matters up for debate, two of them offered by Republicans and two offered by Democrats. In short:
- A proposal sponsored by Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, would have increased funding for background checks and changed the language barring people with mental health issues from buying a gun. This one failed on a vote of 53-47.
- A measure proposed by Chris Murphy, D-Conn, to expand background checks to the sales of firearms at gun shows and on the Internet failed 44-56.
- A bill by Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, to let the Justice Department bar gun sales to anyone who was on the terrorist watch list in the past five years failed on a vote of 47-53.
- A bill offered by John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would have allowed the government to block a gun sale for up to three days pending a court review also failed on a vote of 53-47.
Some of you may be wondering, how come these votes all failed even though the two Republican proposals had majorities of 53-47? Ah yes, how come indeed. So the problem here is the so-called Filibuster rule which is not actually a Filibuster rule: I wrote about this extensively in a previous post. One of the ironies of this situation is that several Senators did actually engage in a real filibuster, led by CT Senator Christopher Murphy, which led to the Senate agreeing to actually take these four votes.
Of course, pundits predicted what would happen, that none of the four proposals would pass. In addition, the House had already announced that it wasn’t going to take any votes on gun control, even if any had passed in the Senate.
The purpose of this empty exercise was really just to get Senators on record voting for or against various gun control measures. The Democrats did get Republicans on record, but the force of their effort has been blunted by the two Republican proposals, which Republicans will spin as “compromise” proposals, even though they were really not compromises – especially the Cornyn proposal – but just watered down proposals deliberately designed to be ineffective, but to give their Republican colleagues a little bit of political cover.
That 13% approval rating still has a ways to go before it hits zero.
 The FBI also would have to show probable cause that the prospective gun buyer was involved in terrorist activities, and to come forward with that proof in the three day period.