So we will have a gun debate in the U.S. Senate after all.
By BARBARA SHELLY
The Kansas City Star
This is, finally, the way most Americans expect Washington to work. We have a huge problem in the nation with gun violence. We expect our leaders to deal with it.
Forget the cloak-and-dagger methods that have come to characterize the way the Senate does business backroom deals, the need to get to 60 votes before an issue can be heard, even though 51 votes constitutes a majority.
Americans want to see an honest debate, and now, it appears, we shall.
This is no thanks to the Republican senators from Missouri and Kansas.
Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran of Kansas said all along that they would join the senators attempting to keep a gun bill from reaching the Senate floor for debate. Their stand is not surprising; these are the senators who recently yielded to cable news-induced paranoia and voted against adopting a United Nations resolution on rights for the disabled, in the process turning their backs on former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, a Kansas legend. Roberts and Moran are entrenched obstructionists, beholden to tea party and gun rights groups. A show of backbone from either of them would be roof-raising.
Roy Blunt of Missouri, who told reporters on Wednesday that I am generally of the view that its better to debate the bill than not, opted on Thursday to vote to not debate the bill.
Voted to block Leader (Harry) Reids gun bill, which restricts (Second Amendment) rights and wouldnt prevent tragedies like Newtown, Aurora or Tucson, Blunt reported on Twitter.
He knows this already? If Blunt is so certain the legislative package would have no impact on mass shootings, let him stand up on the Senate floor and tell us why.
Missouris Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill, voted with all but two of her fellow Democrats to proceed. In the anticipated debate, she is likely to relate some of her experiences as Jackson County prosecutor in explaining why she supports gun-safety measures such as universal background checks and limiting the size of magazines. Thats the way it should be. Personal and professional experiences shape values. Americans deserve to hear how they shape the nations laws and policy.
Congress is light years away from actually passing sensible legislation aimed at keeping the most dangerous types of weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous people. Still to come are more procedural votes in the Senate, and actual votes, and then decisions about what to do in the House.
Still, a process has begun, and perhaps now we can return the debate to the issue at hand too many Americans die each day from gun violence, and we have witnessed an extraordinary number of mass shootings without doing anything to counter them.
After the initial shock created by the deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut wore away, the debate veered toward shoring up the rights of gun owners. The Kansas Legislature took advantage of the heightened emotions to pass a bill last week declaring Kansas guns immune from federal laws and clearing the way for gun owners to carry concealed weapons into many public buildings, even when local officials want to ban them.
Gun owners matter. But so do the families of the slain children in Newtown, Conn., and the survivors and families left bereaved by shootings in movie theaters, on college campuses, in shopping malls and on the streets of cities all over America. And so do the majority of Americans who value safety and who support universal background checks and bans on the most dangerous guns and ammunition.
A politician on the national stage who doesnt love to talk is a rarity indeed. Now is the chance. Let the Senate talk about guns. The nation is listening.