Doesn’t Ninety Percent Mean Anything in a Democracy?

Poll after poll shows that 90% or more of Americans support universal background checks for gun purchases.  And that includes solid majorities of NRA members and Republicans.  Yet even this, the most popular  and least controversial of gun reforms, seems doomed, unable to get out of the Democrat-controlled Senate, let alone the GOP House.

Sahil Kapur writes today at Talking Points Memo:

“Politically, Democratic leaders are in a lose-lose predicament. If they somehow squeeze background checks through the Senate (it’ll still have to pass the House), their vulnerable members will face the wrath of the NRA. If the legislation fails, leaders will anger and demoralize their liberal base, which is demanding meaningful action on guns.”

It seems to me that if this legislation fails, the anger and despair and frustration will rightly extend well beyond the liberal base.  Background checks are not just a liberal cause, they are supported all across the political spectrum.

Kapur names four Dem senators who won’t vote for background checks because they are up for re-election in 2014:  Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Max Baucus of Montana.  I hope they lose their seats —  they don’t deserve the extraordinary honor and power of being a senator.

Jewish tradition says that if you save one life, you save the whole world.  I can’t imagine that universal background checks won’t save at least one life.  If I lost my Senate seat, but knew that I’d saved a life because of my vote, I’d consider that an excellent trade-off and be proud and at peace for the rest of my life.  And, given the lop-sided polling, I believe these senators can do the right thing and win in 2014 anyway.

It may be inevitable that crazies like Adam Lanza will do us harm, but it’s not inevitable that cowards will lead us.

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