Our View: Failed gun control bill was mild

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 11:46 AM

Editorial Board

The U.S. Senate’s defeat, via a filibuster, of a gun control bill on Wednesday, was disappointing primarily because it was such a mild proposal. The bipartisan measure, proposed by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., would have extended background checks for gun purchases to Internet sales and sales at gun shows. If Congress can’t pass this law, it won’t do anything, it seems.

It’s difficult to imagine anyone disagreeing with that proposal. Indeed, Sens. Toomey and Manchin, who both have positive “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association, have impressive gun rights credentials. Both senators assured their colleagues that the fear that the feds would start a “gun registry” with the information gathered was false. In fact, the defeated bill made it a crime for the feds to create a gun registry.

Nevertheless, the bill was defeated, falling well short of the 60 votes needed to continue through the Senate. Both Utah senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, helped kill the gun control bill.

Another puzzling aspect of the Toomey-Manchin bill’s defeat is that it likely would have been supported only a few years ago by many of the senators who helped defeat it. In fact, the National Rifle Association, which lobbied to defeat the measure, has supported expanding background checks in the past.

Gun control supporters, including President Barack Obama, are guilty of over-selling the bill as a way to stop repeats of mass-murder crimes such as what occurred at Newtown in December. Family members of the Newtown victims, as well as former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, a victim of gun violence, were prominently visible at events with the president and other gun control rallies. The truth is that the bill defeated on Wednesday would not have prevented another Newtown, or Virginia Tech, or Columbine.

But it would have strengthened our gun laws, and closed a loophole that allows persons with criminal pasts to easily purchase guns. It’s a shame that too many senators, including Hatch and Lee, are opposed to that.

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