Expected Senate Action on Gun Violence Legislation Is Cowardly Dodge

The Senate’s scheduled vote this afternoon on gun violence legislation makes a mockery of majority rule and dishonors the memory of the innocents who perished at Newtown and the thousands of other Americans killed or maimed each year by gun violence, Common Cause said today.

“Upwards of 90 percent of Americans support strengthened background checks for gun purchasers,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “The Senate’s answer today is a cowardly dodge behind an antiquated rule. Senators must not do the gun industry’s bidding by manipulating the rules of the chamber at the expense of the public interest.”

Rather than engage in an extended debate, which would require all of them to spell out their positions to the American people, and then settle the matter with a majority vote, senators have unanimouslyagreed to require a 60-vote supermajority vote for any action. “The result, of course, is likely to be no action at all, or hardly any,” Edgar said.

In the first two days of formal debate on gun legislation, senators spoke for a total of 215 minutes – less than four hours, Edgar said. “That’s less than 10 minutes for each of Sandy Hook’s 26 victims,” he said. “Now, on the third day, with far less than half of all senators having come to the floor to share their views and hear arguments pro and con from their colleagues, we come to a pivotal vote and see that a supermajority – 60 senators – is required to get anything done.

“If it wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable,” he said.

Edgar called on Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to reschedule today’s proceedings and “lay out a plan for a serious debate on the gun show loophole and other important gun law amendments.

“If there are senators who want to filibuster these amendments, let them come to the floor and explain themselves, and keep explaining until they convince a majority to join them or run out of things to say. Let’s have a real debate and then let’s allow the majority to work its will. That’s how the Senate – how America – is supposed to work.”