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Forty-five senators defied the will of a majority of their colleagues and of Americans.
Friday, April 19, 2013
This week, people gathered at Virginia Tech to remember the young men and women and their courageous professors who were slain six years ago.
Students at New River Community College returned to classes, but their thoughts were with a classmate and a college employee still recovering from gunshot wounds inflicted just days ago.
Also this week, families from Newtown, Conn., gathered in Washington. Their loss is too recent and raw to say they were there to remember, as if it were possible for them to forget for one second the horror and pain their little sons and daughters experienced in their final moments on Earth. Instead, the families were there in hopes that their presence would ensure that U.S. senators remembered the 20 children and six adults who died 18 weeks ago.
But 45 senators were determined to forget. They succeeded in blocking every meaningful gun control measure before them on Wednesday, depriving even the most diluted public safety measures of the 60 votes needed to survive. (Majority Leader Harry Reid voted no in a parliamentary move that allows him to bring the measure up again.)
The most cynical vote came on legislation that would have enacted tentative new background-check requirements on firearms sales. The measure was narrowly aimed at preventing bad guys from getting guns cloaked in the anonymity of the Internet or stowed in the trunk of a car parked outside a gun show. Yet lobbyists for the National Rifle Association declared it a victory that criminals and those with dangerous mental disorders will still be able to obtain firearms through these loopholes.
Ninety percent of Americans support the measure, particularly with exemptions for sales between family members, friends and neighbors. Indeed, the exemptions attached to the bill that died this week were far more lenient.
Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have not forgotten the losses Virginia has experienced as a result of gun violence. They both supported the background checks legislation. Too many of their colleagues, however, are afflicted with a cruel amnesia in which their own political insecurities block out the suffering of others.
We hope that their constituents will remember the treachery of those 45 senators in the next election. Regardless, Virginia Tech, the New River Valley and Virginians will not forget.
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