Shame on You, Senate





The apt phrase “shame on you” echoed among the crowd gathered in the Senate gallery when they found out the Senate’s decision on gun control. According to President Barack Obama, this past April proved to be “pretty shameful for Washington.” It also turned out to be a shameful month for many Americans because their senators turned their backs on them.

The U.S. Senate rejected the Manchin-Toomey Amendment that would have expanded background checks for gun purchases and criminalized some gun transfers between family members. I support background checks for all gun buyers because if the government monitors all gun sales, it could lower the chances of guns falling into the wrong hands. Although this amendment did not go as far as making background checks universal, it still had my support.

The bill fell short of 60 votes. Many senators, Democrats and Republicans alike, bought into the fear that voting for this bill would mean going against the Second Amendment. However, according to the Quinnipiac University Poll, 91% of people support background checks on all gun purchases. When the Washington Post-ABC News asked the public about their stance on background checks for online and private gun purchases—which is the provision included in the bill—86% agreed to it.

It is unjustifiable that our senators turned down a bill that did not infringe on the rights of gun owners but rather just introduced precautionary measures. While there is no guarantee that this bill would have stopped unqualified people from gaining access to guns, it would have at least stopped them from easily purchasing them. The process for purchasing guns might have become lengthier but even conservatives shouldn’t object to a process that would be beneficial for everyone in the long run.

I find it unsettling that the results of tragedies like Newtown still haven’t been able to sway the senators. Our Senate doesn’t seem to understand that the bill isn’t a complete ban on guns or a violation of the Second Amendment—it is a mere expansion of background checks. I’m certainly not asking senators to discard their own views and beliefs but I would like to see some compromise and an attempt to find middle ground.

For a governing body that was created for and by the people, our senators showed Americans where they stood by disregarding their wishes for tougher gun laws. This raises the question of where their loyalties lie if they were so quick to tune out the voices of the very people who voted them into office. They failed to consider the accounts of those who were directly or indirectly affected by gun violence and instead chose to hide behind the coattails of gun lobbyists who are removed from the violence.

We’ve let this ceaseless gun control debate go on for too long. We can’t just sit idle and wait for another lunatic to make his move while senators argue about the pros and cons of gun control. I’m pretty sure the Senate wouldn’t want to shoulder the blame of allowing yet another shooter to traumatize Americans when they could’ve easily toughened gun control with a quick ‘yes’.

If anything, the Senate’s extreme decision corroborates one thing: we must always take the senatorial addresses to the public with a grain of salt.