Dem Senator: Congress Doesn't Have the Votes to Pass Gun-Control Legislation

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer noted on Meet the Pressyesterday that the gun-control bills proposed by several members of Congress in the wake of last week's shooting in Arizona simply do not have the votes to pass. Although "smart, rational" gun legislation is needed, Schumer said, we should not get our hopes up -- even in the immediate aftermath of the Arizona shooting rampage and even though both Republicans and Democrats have put forth gun-control proposals.

Here's what Schumer had to say, via Raw Story:

"Let's be honest here -- there haven't been the votes in the Congress for gun control," Schumer said on NBC's "Meet the Press," calling it a "hard" issue. Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, nevertheless spoke out in favor of "smart, rational gun control laws that protect the right to bear arms, but have reasonable limits."

"There is a right to bear arms. It's in the Constitution. And you can't ignore it, just like you can't ignore the others," he said. "But like all the other rights, it's not absolute."

With the NRA alone having spent some $2 million on lobbying efforts last year, the gun lobby is clearly a force to be reckoned with. Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma was also on Meet the Pressyesterday, exhibiting just how beholden to that lobby many Congress members are:

[Coburn] spoke out against toughening gun laws, arguing that doing so would not prevent future atrocities and would impede with rights to self-defense. "If you have somebody that is a criminal, that wants to get around the law, they're going to get around the law," Coburn said. "The problem with gun laws is they limit the ability to defend yourself, one. But number two is, the people who are going to commit a crime or going to do something crazy aren't going to pay attention to the laws in the first place."

According to the group Legal Community Against Violence, Arizona ranks dead last in gun controls while ranking 7th in per-capita gun deaths. It doesn't take a genius to see the pattern there. As AlterNet's Joshua Holland wrote last week, Arizona's lax gun-control laws enabled Jared Loughner to legally acquire weapons that made last Saturday's shooting particularly brutal:

In a sane society, we would be imposing reasonable restrictions on firearms. According to news reports, the carnage at Giffords' event only ended when the shooter stopped to reload. But because he was using an extended capacity magazine, that only occurred after he had gotten off over 30 rounds. There had been a halt in the manufacture and sales of high capacity magazines under the Clinton-era Assault Weapons Ban. But, as Media Matters' Ari Rabin-Havt noted, “The NRA put its muscle behind making sure the assault weapons ban expired, even though its renewal was supported by President Bush.”....The Second Amendment does not guarantee the right to keep and bear semi-automatic weapons with high capacity magazines, and in a sane country, they'd be banned.

But clearly, this is not a sane country.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at January 17, 2011, 3:45am

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