However there’s two large variations between the Senate effort Biden was a part of in 1993 and now: Mitch McConnell and the filibuster. As progressive activist Joe Sudbay noted, the ’93 Assault Weapons Ban cleared the Democratic-controlled Senate by a simple majority vote, 56-to-43, with 46 Democrats and 10 Republicans voting in favor of the invoice. Democrats by no means needed to clear a 60-vote threshold as a result of the GOP Senate minority hadn’t but began deploying the filibuster to nuke each single invoice that gained life within the Home.
The identical was true for a 1999 measure requiring background checks in any respect gun reveals and pawnshops, which cleared the Senate by a bare majority, 51-to-50, with then-Vice President Al Gore casting the tie-breaking vote. The invoice handed only one month after the Columbine Excessive College bloodbath left 12 college students and one trainer lifeless—a remnant of a time when Congress was nonetheless practical sufficient to reply to a nationwide crises with legislative fixes.
When each the assault weapon ban and gun present legislation got here up for extension in 2004, they passed the Senate once more by simple majority votes however died within the Home. Republicans managed each the higher and decrease chambers that yr.
However by the point the Sandy Hook Elementary College capturing claimed the lives of 20 youngsters and 6 faculty staff, Sen. McConnell was operating the Senate minority. Underneath his deranged management, Republicans filibustered and doomed a bipartisan invoice that may have required background checks on all business gross sales of weapons. The measure failed on the query of the movement to proceed to debate—a typical requiring 60 votes that hadn’t been utilized to most earlier gun management measures. Though the invoice garnered the support of 55 senators, it fell 5 votes shy of the filibuster-imposed 60-vote threshold. (Then-Majority Chief Harry Reid later switched his vote to “no,” a procedural transfer that may permit him to deliver the measure up for one more vote.)
As Atlantic editor Ron Brownstein tweeted, that 2013 vote completely highlighted how the Senate filibuster has successfully given constituents from small, rural states a minority veto over the desire of the bulk. “In 2013, final time Senate thought-about common background checks,” Brownstein wrote, “the 55 Senators voting sure represented 194 million folks; the 45 voting no simply 118 million; however w/filibuster the 45 gained.”
So the senators who voted in favor of background checks represented 76 million extra folks than the senators who carried the day.
Now, right here we’re once more. Following two horrific tragedies in Georgia and Colorado, Democrats are attempting to advance commonsense gun legal guidelines that may save lives, however McConnell is imposing minority rule on the desire of the bulk by means of a mechanism that was by no means even included within the Structure within the first place.
It has to cease. No democratic nation can exist indefinitely in a state the place a minority of the residents impose their will on the bulk in perpetuity. It’s merely not sustainable.