7:15 PM EDT, April 17, 2013
"Shame on you," two women yelled at senators Wednesday afternoon before they were escorted from the U.S. Capitol.
The Senate deserved the opprobrium.
It had just failed to advance a good amendment, born of bipartisan compromise and supported by more than 90 percent of Americans, that would expand background checks on gun purchasers to online and gun-show sales.
The idea is to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
The idea is to save lives.
But the Senate apparently couldn't care less. Only 54 votes in favor of the so-called Manchin-Toomey amendment could be mustered when 60 votes were needed to advance the bill.
Connecticut's two senators — Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy — were on the right side, but in vain.
There is no rational explanation for the 46 votes that sank this common-sense, life-saving amendment.
It would have done nothing to infringe on Second Amendment rights. It would have done nothing to create a government repository of gun-owner information — the registration and confiscation bugaboos that needlessly alarmed some gun owners.
There is no guarantee that an expanded background check would have stopped Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook school killer, or will stop others like him. But the background check that now exists, even with loopholes, has stopped many would-be sales to felons and the mentally ill. This was an improvement that would have stopped even more.
Many of those 46 no votes were doubtless based on conviction. But some votes were based on fear that the gun lobby would back a primary election challenge of any senator who strayed off the reservation. Lives mean less when re-election looms.
"It's a shame. It's appalling. It's disgusting," said one of the women who was bounced from the Capitol, amplifying her feelings.
Yes, it is.
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