Gun Control Bill Hits a Wall ... But Just For Now?

The blogosphere reacts to gun control legislation getting blocked in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
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The Senate Wednesday voted down a bipartisan amendment to gun legislation that would have expanded background checks for gun purchases. The Manchin-Toomey compromise fell short of the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster, gaining only 54 yeas from Democrats and four Republicans. 

The defeat is a major one for President Barack Obama and the Senate Democratic leadership, who have made gun control their flagship campaign since the shooting in Newtown, Conn. last December. Here, the blogosphere analyzes the Senate vote, and discusses what it means for the future of gun control legislation:

M.S. of Democracy in America says it's hard to believe that even after the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, legislators couldn't overcome the powerful gun lobby:

Four months after the massacre of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, the government decided today to do absolutely nothing to prevent future gun atrocities … The government decided to do nothing to stop gun atrocities because the political power of obsessive gun zealots with ignorant, hallucinatory political worldviews outweighed the reasonable public consensus that an overabundance of easily obtained guns has created a serious threat to Americans' public safety. The government decided to do nothing because of the political heft of Wayne LaPierre's NRA, because of the disproportionate one-man-thirty-votes congressional representation of rural districts, because of the electoral vulnerability of red-state Democratic senators, because of the decision by Republican senators to filibuster this and every Democratic bill

In a year and a half, gun-control advocates and gun-control foes will go back to the ballot boxes to try to break the congressional deadlock, each bearing the pictures of their martyrs. One side's martyrs are named Daniel, Madeleine, Noah and Avielle. The other side's martyrs are named Glock, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson. It will be interesting to see who the American people choose.

[See a collection of political cartoons on gun control and gun rights.]

Chris Cillizza of The Fix says the vote made clear that if invoking Sandy Hook as a reason for gun control measures didn't work, there likely isn't any event that would spur action:

The inability of what happened in Newtown to move the gun debate in Congress forward in any meaningful way — the biggest "victory" for gun control advocates was that the bill got the requisite votes to be debated and amended on the Senate floor — suggests that there are no external events or tragedies that will fundamentally alter the political calculus of members of Congress when it comes to gun laws.

What Obama seemed to suggest in his remarks was that the next round of the fight as he sees it is the 2014 election where those who stood in the way of his package of gun control proposals would face the wrath of voters.

"To all the people who supported this legislation….you need to let your representatives in Congress know that you are disappointed and that if they don't act this time, you will remember come election time," Obama said.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Should Congress Support Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases?]

Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas of Wonkblog don't blame the politics of the 2014 election on the bill's failure, but rather the structure of the Senate:

The gun vote didn't fail because a couple of red-state Democrats bolted, or even because too many senators are afraid of the National Rifle Association, or even because Sen. Pat Toomey couldn't bring along more Republicans.

Those factors help explain why the gun vote didn't clear the extraordinary bar set for it to succeed. But they're not the main reason it failed.

The gun vote failed because of the way the Senate is designed. It failed because the Senate wildly overrepresents small, rural states and, on top of that, requires a 60-vote supermajority to pass most pieces of legislation.

The Manchin-Toomey bill received 54 aye votes and 46 nay votes. That is to say, a solid majority of senators voted for it. In most legislative bodies around the world, that would have been enough. But it wasn't a sufficient supermajority for the U.S. Senate.