June 23, 2016

On the Revolution in the House

I cheered the sit-in in the House of Representatives led by Representative John Lewis yesterday. I was particularly delighted with the DYI live streaming done by the Democratic protesters after the C-SPAN cameras were ordered shut off.

I am normally a proponent of playing by the rules, and the House rules, for good or ill, put the agenda in the hands of the Speaker of the House. That said, Americans are overwhelming in favor of tighter gun controls and are tired of the House of Representatives reacting to gun massacres with nothing more than moments of silence. Speaker Paul Ryan, however, showed that it was more important to Republicans to allow financial advisors to fleece their customers than to do anything about gun violence in America.

It isn’t clear that, in the end, the sit-in will have achieved votes on the two issues pressed by the Democrats. Even if there are votes, the measures will surely fail, with all, or nearly all, Republicans voting against change. Welcome to a government run by the NRA. Some great Democratic campaign spots will be made from the House revolution, however.

Stepping back, I must admit that denying guns to people on the no-fly list or other terrorism-related lists is problematic. It is unclear how one gets on these lists, and it is even less clear how one gets off. The lists call to mind Minority Report, in which people are apprehended for crimes they are expected to commit. This has more in common with Soviet Union justice than it has with traditional American justice. Although denying gun sales to “terrorists” on the no-fly list is a popular idea, it is, sadly, a bad one.

Universal background checks are another matter. There is no reason why one needs to pass a background check to buy a gun at a gun store but can purchase a gun without such a check at a gun show or from someone in a back alley. Americans are behind this measure, and Congress should be, too. Unfortunately, Republican legislators (and even some Democrats) have been bought and paid for by the terrorist organization known as the National Rifle Association.

Republican congressmen and -women should be ashamed of themselves. (The Senate hasn’t covered itself with glory, either.)

House Republicans: Have you no shame?

Note: I recently wrote two essays on guns, which you can find here and here.

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