In Gabrielle Giffords’ editorial in the New York Times on Wednesday about the failure of Senators to pass the so-called Toomey-Manchin compromise amendment that doomed Senate Bill 649, she expressed her frustration through vituperation without understanding why the amendment, and consequently the bill, failed to pass the Senate on Wednesday. She wrote: "A minority of Senators gave in to fear and blocked common-sense legislation…. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association."
She wrote that the senators were only interested in saving their political skins — three of the four Democrats who voted no are up for reelection in 2014 — and that as a result they had a “misplaced sense of self-interest” and used “willfully false accounts” of what the bill, had it passed, might have done to gun owners’ rights to defend their votes. She threatened that she, her husband Mark Kelly, and their anti-gun group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, would “use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress [in 2014], one that puts communities’ interests ahead of the gun lobbys’.”
Despite the fact that four Republicans — John McCain (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine), Pat Toomey (Penn.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) — voted for the amendment, Democrats were unable to keep four of their faithful in line, as Mark Pryor (Ark.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Max Baucus (Mont.) voted against it, resulting in the defeat of the amendment 54 "yea" to 46 "nay," six "yea" votes short of the 60 needed for passage.
The tortured path to oblivion for S. 649 was carefully laid out by Jennifer Steinhauer in the New York Times, tracing it through a maze of bad decisions, failed opportunities, poor messaging, an extraordinary lack of coherence, and political reality. Yet even she failed to grasp what really ended the matter even before it began: an awakening by sufficient numbers of Americans that they were once again about to be taken for a ride.
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