Friday, April 12, 2013

Not a hope in hell: Gun control now up for debate in Senate

By Michael J.W. Stickings

There was much ado yesterday about the bipartisan (but still mostly Democratic) Manchin-Toomey proposal to broaden background checks for gun purchases (specifically to cover gun shows and the Internet), a deal that broke the NRA-backed Republican filibuster (the cloture motion passing 68-31) and allows for debate on the Senate floor of a package of gun control measures supported by Obama and the Democrats (and, of course, opposed by most Republicans and the NRA).

Is it a step in the right direction? Yes. Is it possible that something will end up passing, even if it's just expanded background checks (which would certainly be good in and of themselves but which aren't nearly enough)? Sure. And is it encouraging that Majority Leader Harry Reid is demanding a renewed ban on assault weapons and limits on the size of ammunition magazines. Of course.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. You know how the Senate works, you know what Republicans are all about, and you know that the Republican-led House isn't about to support anything resembling meaningful gun control legislation. Indeed, as Jonathan Bernstein writes in a sober -- and depressing -- post looking past yesterday's pro-debate vote to what lies ahead:

[W]e still don't know that an intact bill can make it to the final vote stage in the Senate; we still don't know if an intact bill can defeat a filibuster to get to that final vote; we don't know whether the House would take up a bill if it did pass the Senate; and we don't even know whether a bill could get a majority in the House even if they did take it up. So there's a long, long, ways to go. What happened [yesterday] was the easiest part.

In other words, as it says over the gates of hell in Dante's Inferno: "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate."

As you may know, that translates as "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

With Republicans able to block whatever they want, there's really no hope at all.

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