As the political world digests the demise of legislative gun reforms, there’s ample speculation about why efforts to reduce gun violence were defeated. I noticed Andrew Kaczynski argue that the White House will point the finger at Senate Republicans, “but really it was red state Democrats.”
One can take a look at the roll call on yesterday’s vote on expanded background checks, but maybe a chart can help drive the point home.
Obviously, the vote wasn’t entirely along partisan lines, and four red-state Democrats who broke ranks and sided with the minority deserve the scrutiny they’ve received.
But let’s at least try to be objective about what happened. There was a Republican filibuster, which the vast majority of Republicans supported. Four Democrats broke ranks, but even if they had stuck with their party, the proposal would have come up short – because of the scope of Republican opposition.
That’s not opinion; it’s just what happened. I’m not even assigning a value judgment here – if you hated the legislation and wanted to see it die, then give Republicans credit, because they succeeded. If you backed the legislation and were disappointed, then blame the party responsible.
But let’s not pretend otherwise, shall we?
Indeed, let’s take a moment to reflect on what happened in the immediate aftermath of the vote.
On one side of the aisle, we saw Democratic senators trying to console heartbroken parents whose children were killed in Newtown. We also saw a Democratic White House, not only offering support for the grieving families in tears, but also condemning the Senate vote in passionate terms.
On the other side of the aisle, we saw the Republicans’ Senate leader, Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, posting this to his Facebook page, effectively dancing in the end zone.
With all due respect to those in media who want to blame yesterday’s vote on Democrats, it seems pretty obvious to me the evidence points in the other direction.
Update: The New York Times reports today that on background checks, “just enough Democrats broke with their party to make a difference.” That’s demonstrably wrong: 51 Democrats supported the bill, as did four Republicans, while four Democrats broke ranks. For the math impaired, 51 + 4 + 4 = 59. It took 60 votes, not 59, to overcome the GOP filibuster.