Headline - Gun Control Bill Hits a Brick Wall In Senate
Despite recent polls showing broad public support, 46 senators voted last week against a watered-down proposal to strengthen and expand existing background checks on gun sales.
So why was there such a great divide between the Republican party and the American majority will? One senator, Mark Begich, a Democrat from red state Alaska who voted with the majority of Senate Republicans said it boiled down to emotions. He said the emotions surrounding the debate arising from the recent events of gun violence was unconducive to policymaking, essentially causing people to make irrational judgment calls.
“It’s dangerous to do any type of policy in an emotional moment,” Begich said, as quoted by the New York Times. “Because human emotions then drive the decision. Everyone’s all worked up. That’s not enough.”
Begich received some harsh criticism from politicians and pundits on those remarks, but I think he's got a point.
Begich, in short order, explained that emotions stemming from the Newtown massacre was driving the national dialogue and the 54 who voted for it. I'll concede that. That's the way it should be providing those emotions were secured and unsolicited without tangible promises of personal gain or loss. For the 54 senators voting for the gun check bill, that appears to be the case. Just raw human emotions of compassion and goodwill towards our fellow man based on our natural drive to make things better in our imperfect world. But that left me wondering exactly which emotions were driving the 46 against the bill?
For that I turn to Ron Johnson, the slacker senator from our state of Wisconsin who was not only among the 46 voting against the majority will, but was also prepared to filibuster it the old fashioned way if necessary.
Among Johnson’s Wisconsin constituents, 81 percent approve of the measure, according to a recent Marquette Law School poll. It's even supported by an overwhelming majority of members of the NRA, whose leaders have gone to the mat to kill it.
So if the Newtown massacre or the majority will in his own state couldn't drive Ron Johnson's emotions to support the gun check bill - what drove him and many republicans to oppose it?
Democracy campaign Blog Excerpt:
Turns out the NRA reported spending more than any other outside special interest group to support Johnson's 2010 election victory over incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold.
Four dozen SuperPACs and nonprofit groups representing the Democratic and Republican parties and an array of powerful special interests reported spending $4.7 million in the Johnson-Feingold contest. The NRA was Johnson's biggest benefactor and also spent more than any other outside group on the list - $1.18 million - or 25 percent of the total.
Aaaah. There it is. The love of gun lobby money appears to be the emotion driving Ron Johnson's vote while the fear of being primaried or challenged by gun lobby money drove Begich's emotions.
Love and fear - inarguably the two most powerful emotions driving the majority of our personal decisions are indeed inescapable human qualities. To expect Johnson or anyone else to have a special immunity to those emotions is an unreasonable expectation.
Unfortunately for the rest of us, they did however succumb to the personal gains and losses the wall of gun lobby money could pose to their senate careers based on their vote. On that count they failed. Miserably.
Think Progress - Republican Tells Victim's Mom he Supports Background Checks, Then Votes Against Them