Forget Gun Control—Let’s Ban the Senate.
Above: Seriously, fuck these guys. Photo via Rex USA
By now, you’ve probably already heard that the Senate voted down a gun control proposal yesterday—actually, they voted down a lot of different proposals, but the one that got the most attention was an amendment, proposed by Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, that would have essentially mandated background checks for everyone who buys a gun.
The argument for the Toomey–Manchin amendment was pretty easy to explain, even to a child: “Well, Timmy, guns might be tools for hunting, they might be collected and handled safely by millions of hobbyists and enthusiasts, but it’s also really, really easy to kill people if you have a gun—it would be a good idea to make sure that the people who were buying guns weren’t crazy or criminals.” [tousles Timmy’s hair playfully] The arguments against the amendment were mostly that criminals wouldn’t obey the law anyway, that background checks wouldn’t have stopped the Newtown massacre, and that the amendment was actuallytoo pro-gun—all of which would seem to indicate that we need more restrictions on gun ownership, not fewer. As many as 91 percent of Americans supported expanded background checks at one point; if anything had a chance to pass through the world’s greatest deliberative body, it was that piece of mild, mostly symbolic legislation.
That it didn’t pass isn’t an example of cowardice on the part of senators who didn’t vote for it, or some fatal flaw on behalf of its sponsors. It’s just another case of the Senate being cripplingly, pathetically gridlockedand unable to do anything for anyone.
It should be pointed out, repeatedly, that most senators voted for the Toomey–Manchin amendment—54 out of 100—but you need 60 votes to pass anything, and the reasons why are much harder to explain to a child than the reasons for the amendment itself: “You see, Timmy, although the Founding Fathers stipulated that bills could pass either house of Congress by a simple majority, they also put this thing in there that let any senator stall a vote by making a speech, and uhhhh, thanks to a series of procedural reforms enacted over the years, now a senator can just stop a bill by saying no once, and it takes 60 votes to overrule that no. This is good because, um. Fuck you, that’s why. Go play your Xbox.”