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Gabrielle Giffords: Let’s get a Congress who cares about our interests

This morning in the New York Times, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords wrote an op-ed about the cowardly action of the U.S. Senate in defeating the amendment promoted in this video:

Gabrielle Giffords: “A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip”

SENATORS say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them.

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms – a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.

… if we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress, one that puts communities’ interests ahead of the gun lobby’s.

Let’s join her and let’s make them fear the wrath of the voters. There is really no excuse for voting against the wishes of 90% of Americans.  

Americans for Responsible Solutions

For Immediate Release

April 17, 2013


Today, the US Senate ignored the will of the American people and failed to pass a bi-partisan commonsense, moderate solution for keeping deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous people and making our communities safer. Almost 90% of Americans said they wanted this sensible solution to be implemented, but the senators voting against the measure chose instead to obey the leaders of the powerful corporate gun lobby, instead of their constituents. We know this proposal respected the rights of lawful gun owners like ourselves, and we know it would have saved lives.

We will use every means possible to make sure the constituents of these senators know that their elected representatives ignored them, and put Washington, DC special interest politics over the effort to keep their own communities safer from the tragedy of gun violence.

Gabby has always said this would be a long, hard haul. Our work does not end today; we are committed to finding commonsense compromises that will keep us safer, and to making sure we have a congress that will put the interests of their communities ahead of the interests of the gun lobby.

Those who voted against the amendment:

NAYs —46

Alexander (R-TN)

Ayotte (R-NH)

Barrasso (R-WY)

Baucus (D-MT)

Begich (D-AK)

Blunt (R-MO)

Boozman (R-AR)

Burr (R-NC)

Chambliss (R-GA)

Coats (R-IN)

Coburn (R-OK)

Cochran (R-MS)

Corker (R-TN)

Cornyn (R-TX)

Crapo (R-ID)

Cruz (R-TX)

Enzi (R-WY)

Fischer (R-NE)

Flake (R-AZ)

Graham (R-SC)

Grassley (R-IA)

Hatch (R-UT)

Heitkamp (D-ND)

Heller (R-NV)

Hoeven (R-ND)

Inhofe (R-OK)

Isakson (R-GA)

Johanns (R-NE)

Johnson (R-WI)

Lee (R-UT)

McConnell (R-KY)

Moran (R-KS)

Murkowski (R-AK)

Paul (R-KY)

Portman (R-OH)

Pryor (D-AR)

Reid (D-NV) *

Risch (R-ID)

Roberts (R-KS)

Rubio (R-FL)

Scott (R-SC)

Sessions (R-AL)

Shelby (R-AL)

Thune (R-SD)

Vitter (R-LA)

Wicker (R-MS)

* Harry Reid only voted against it for procedural reasons. It allows him to bring the amendment up for another vote.


President Obama Speaks on Common-Sense Measures to Reduce Gun Violence after the vote (forward to 4:30):

Transcript of president’s remarks

THE PRESIDENT:  A few months ago, in response to too many tragedies — including the shootings of a United States Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, who’s here today, and the murder of 20 innocent schoolchildren and their teachers — this country took up the cause of protecting more of our people from gun violence.

Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders — not just to honor the memory of their children, but to protect the lives of all our children.  And a few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it.  They blocked common-sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery.

By now, it’s well known that 90 percent of the American people support universal background checks that make it harder for a dangerous person to buy a gun.  We’re talking about convicted felons, people convicted of domestic violence, people with a severe mental illness.  Ninety percent of Americans support that idea.  Most Americans think that’s already the law.

And a few minutes ago, 90 percent of Democrats in the Senate just voted for that idea.  But it’s not going to happen because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate just voted against that idea.

A majority of senators voted “yes” to protecting more of our citizens with smarter background checks.  But by this continuing distortion of Senate rules, a minority was able to block it from moving forward.

I’m going to speak plainly and honestly about what’s happened here because the American people are trying to figure out how can something have 90 percent support and yet not happen. We had a Democrat and a Republican — both gun owners, both fierce defenders of our Second Amendment, with “A” grades from the NRA — come together and worked together to write a common-sense compromise on background checks.  And I want to thank Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey for their courage in doing that.  That was not easy given their traditional strong support for Second Amendment rights.

As they said, nobody could honestly claim that the package they put together infringed on our Second Amendment rights.  All it did was extend the same background check rules that already apply to guns purchased from a dealer to guns purchased at gun shows or over the Internet.  So 60 percent of guns are already purchased through a background check system; this would have covered a lot of the guns that are currently outside that system.

Their legislation showed respect for gun owners, and it showed respect for the victims of gun violence.  And Gabby Giffords, by the way, is both — she’s a gun owner and a victim of gun violence.  She is a Westerner and a moderate.  And she supports these background checks.

In fact, even the NRA used to support expanded background checks.  The current leader of the NRA used to support these background checks.  So while this compromise didn’t contain everything I wanted or everything that these families wanted, it did represent progress.  It represented moderation and common sense.  That’s why 90 percent of the American people supported it.

But instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill.  They claimed that it would create some sort of “big brother” gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite.  This legislation, in fact, outlawed any registry.  Plain and simple, right there in the text.  But that didn’t matter.

And unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose, because those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners, and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators.  And I talked to several of these senators over the past few weeks, and they’re all good people.  I know all of them were shocked by tragedies like Newtown.  And I also understand that they come from states that are strongly pro-gun. And I have consistently said that there are regional differences when it comes to guns, and that both sides have to listen to each other.  

But the fact is most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn’t want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun.  There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this.  It came down to politics — the worry that that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections.  They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment.

And obviously, a lot of Republicans had that fear, but Democrats had that fear, too.  And so they caved to the pressure, and they started looking for an excuse — any excuse — to vote “no.”

One common argument I heard was that this legislation wouldn’t prevent all future massacres.  And that’s true.  As I said from the start, no single piece of legislation can stop every act of violence and evil.  We learned that tragically just two days ago.  But if action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand — if it could have prevented those people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future while preserving our Second Amendment rights, we had an obligation to try.

And this legislation met that test.  And too many senators failed theirs.

I’ve heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory.  And my question is, a victory for who?  A victory for what?  All that happened today was the preservation of the loophole that lets dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check.  That didn’t make our kids safer.  Victory for not doing something that 90 percent of Americans, 80 percent of Republicans, the vast majority of your constituents wanted to get done?  It begs the question, who are we here to represent?

I’ve heard folks say that having the families of victims lobby for this legislation was somehow misplaced.  “A prop,” somebody called them.  “Emotional blackmail,” some outlet said.  Are they serious?  Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don’t have a right to weigh in on this issue?  Do we think their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this debate?

So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.

But this effort is not over.  I want to make it clear to the American people we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence, so long as the American people don’t give up on it.  Even without Congress, my administration will keep doing everything it can to protect more of our communities.  We’re going to address the barriers that prevent states from participating in the existing background check system.  We’re going to give law enforcement more information about lost and stolen guns so it can do its job.  We’re going to help to put in place emergency plans to protect our children in their schools.

But we can do more if Congress gets its act together.  And if this Congress refuses to listen to the American people and pass common-sense gun legislation, then the real impact is going to have to come from the voters.

To all the people who supported this legislation — law enforcement and responsible gun owners, Democrats and Republicans, urban moms, rural hunters, whoever you are — you need to let your representatives in Congress know that you are disappointed, and that if they don’t act this time, you will remember come election time.

To the wide majority of NRA households who supported this legislation, you need to let your leadership and lobbyists in Washington know they didn’t represent your views on this one.

The point is those who care deeply about preventing more and more gun violence will have to be as passionate, and as organized, and as vocal as those who blocked these common-sense steps to help keep our kids safe.  Ultimately, you outnumber those who argued the other way.  But they’re better organized.  They’re better financed.  They’ve been at it longer.  And they make sure to stay focused on this one issue during election time. And that’s the reason why you can have something that 90 percent of Americans support and you can’t get it through the Senate or the House of Representatives.

So to change Washington, you, the American people, are going to have to sustain some passion about this.  And when necessary, you’ve got to send the right people to Washington.  And that requires strength, and it requires persistence.

And that’s the one thing that these families should have inspired in all of us.  I still don’t know how they have been able to muster up the strength to do what they’ve doing over the last several weeks, last several months.

And I see this as just round one.  When Newtown happened, I met with these families and I spoke to the community, and I said, something must be different right now.  We’re going to have to change.  That’s what the whole country said.  Everybody talked about how we were going to change something to make sure this didn’t happen again, just like everybody talked about how we needed to do something after Aurora.  Everybody talked about we needed change something after Tucson.

And I’m assuming that the emotions that we’ve all felt since Newtown, the emotions that we’ve all felt since Tucson and Aurora and Chicago — the pain we share with these families and families all across the country who’ve lost a loved one to gun violence — I’m assuming that’s not a temporary thing.  I’m assuming our expressions of grief and our commitment to do something different to prevent these things from happening are not empty words.

I believe we’re going to be able to get this done.  Sooner or later, we are going to get this right.  The memories of these children demand it.  And so do the American people.

Thank you very much, everybody.


  1. creamer

    I can’t help but think some of this isn’t based on the hatred of a black president who they want to block at any cost. Their seats are probably safe because they demonized progressives to the point that the base of their party wouldn’t vote for anyone outside of their party anyway.

       Obama’s election, undoing the damage cause by successive right of center administrations, turning away from becoming an oligarchy. This was always going to be a long road. Every time the GOP does something like this they simply reinforce the feeling that they don’t represent the majority of Americans. We might have to wait for some of the old white men to die out, I just hope they don’t turn American’s against each other before that happens.

  2. LeftOverFlowerChild

    That it is not over…That there will be another fight and another vote..I agree with Gabby Giffords–it’s time to elect officials who have the courage to represent the will of the people. Easier said than done, but absolutely necessary.

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  3. His vote guarantees that there will be national gun safety PAC money actively working for his defeat in 2016.

    I never want to see “(R-WI)” after a senator’s name again. The state that just elected Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) will not go backwards.

  4. This is so surreal.

    As they left the Senate gallery, a police officer approached and asked them to follow him. The three walked downstairs to a public hallway, where they were peppered with questions: “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” “What are your Social Security numbers?” The officer left to run a background check on the women, who were instructed to sit on a bench. Another uniformed officer watched over them, even escorted Haas to the bathroom and told her she couldn’t lock the stall door.

    That’s right they made the lady who yelled “shame on you” go through a background check.

  5. pittiepat

    this matter.  I agree practically never with Joe but putting a picture of each senator who voted against the amendment — with “Voted No” in big red letters across their faces — was great to see.  Those pictures were displayed during each hour of the 3 hour program.  

  6. in return got this facebook comment from my brother, who is much more of a libertarian than a RWNJ:

    Blame people who shoot other people for the shooting, of course. Duh. Blame those who oppose gun ownership for being wholly unable to assemble a sane and rational argument, understanding that the reason they fail is because their agenda is based on wishful thinking and a fantasy. Obviously. And blame those who want to do stupid things like limit magazine capacity for being so out of touch with objective reality for pursuing a silly agenda which cannot be objectively demonstrated to have any effect.

    Here’s where to go next. Stop trying to address an irrational fear of some mechanical devices, because clearly when considered objectively, that’s a failed mission. And start to address the causes of violence, which unfortunately those who oppose gun ownership haven’t had the courage to do. Guns do not cause violence.

    But do not blame the politicians for not taking silly action in the name of “Wahhh… we HAVE to do SOMETHING.” That, after all, is the rationale they — and a sizable body of the US population — used to drag us into the Iraq fiasco.

    I basically told him to piss off by saying this:

    Laws in general are stupid things to have because they limit people’s activities. Laws are one more example of ineffective hand-wringing, trying to keep bad things from happening. Bad things might happen anyway! So laws be damned! We should instead try to figure out how to keep bad things from happening.

    Seriously, that kind of argument doesn’t hold water. Guns do not cause violence, it’s true. But guns allow the scope of damage to multiply quickly, and larger ammunition capacities take it exponentially.

    We won’t agree. Period. DON’T comment on my posts at all if you’re going to take such a nasty and insulting tone.

    My dear husband much more eloquently said to him:

    I think you are way off base here. It isn’t a choice of what is the one best course of action. We need to take them all comprehensively. I blame representatives when they refuse to act with the will of the people. I blame the lack of effective mental health programs. I blame a culture of violence nurtured by our society. I blame the gun manufacturers for marketing weapons no one needs. You can rip up my argument all you want. But, I will stand firmly on the side of gun control reform. I need to get back to work.

  7. Mark Begich (D-AK)

    “it is dangerous to do any type of policy in an emotional moment.”

    EMOTIONAL!!!??!! It wouldn’t be so freaking emotional if it didn’t keep happening over and over and over again with Congress sitting on their collective hands with their heads up their collective butts.

    Damn right we are emotional about this!

    Baucus said that he has to vote with what Montana voters want. I would like to see the polls on Montana. It is hard for me to believe that something that 90% of the country supports would somehow be favored by 50%+1 of Montanans.

  8. Boehner On Guns: ‘No Decisions Have Been Made’ On House Action

    One day after gun background check legislation failed in the Senate, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said House committees are continuing to examine practical solutions to “the issue of mental health and violence.”

    “Our committees continue to work at this,” Boehner said. “No decisions have been made beyond that.”

    The House is focusing on the issue of “mental health and violence” because their bill is likely to be simply re-framing the new NRA line “guns don’t kill, mentally ill people do”. Sigh.

  9. fogiv

    i’d be very busy courting co-sponsors and drafting new legislation that requires the NRA to pass a background check before they’re allowed to purchase a U.S. Senator.

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