Senator Joe Manchin pauses to collect himself during a meeting with relatives of the victims killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. (Gary Cameron/REUTERS)
Sen. Joe Manchin pauses to collect himself during a meeting with relatives of the victims killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

The parents of six-year-olds murdered in their classrooms have come to Washington to argue for gun control, and as E.J. Dionne Jr. sees it, this finally lets us look at the issue logically. Dionne writes that while the anger, sorrow and guilt legislators might feel about this horrendous crime, and the sympathy for these parents, would cloud the legislators’ minds with emotion, that very emotion might be needed to counteract the similarly emotional arguments for gun rights. It might be just the thing, Dionne argues, to snap us back into reason.

Dionne contends that fear and paranoia — of the electoral and financial consequences of supporting gun control (for the Congresstypes) and of home invasions for the rest of us — have led us to our current do-nothing stance. If we were purely reasonable, we’d have passed universal background checks long ago.

PostScript isn’t sure it’s in human nature to be rational about the murder of children — or rather, she has no idea what the normal, human pure-logic response would look like. Normal humans don’t have pure-logic responses to mass murders of kids. Whatever bill does pass — if any bill passes — will pass because enough people are convinced it will make their kids safer.

As if to prove her point, the comments section to Dionne’s column is a very emotional place, even when people are trotting out statistics or parsing Constitutional amendments. People are feeling their way through this.

njglea evaluates the bill not on what it contains, but on who is perceived to be winning and losing:

Mr. Dionne, the NRA and its radical supporters are laughing at us, at Newtown victims’ family and friends and at every other American who has lost a loved one to death-by-gun. Here is an excerpt from another article in today’s paper, “…substantial parts of the bill are viewed as “wins” for the gun lobby, including provisions that would prohibit a government registry of gun ownership and make it easier to transport and market weapons across state lines.” This bill should not be passed, which is exactly what the NRA wants.

Bosworth2 uses the emotion evoked by murdered children to argue against gun control:

If my children were murdered, I’d be more interested in burying them than testifying at Congress. I think most parents would. So, yeah, I think your team pushed them to testify. Shame on you soulless monsters.

aaronweiner thinks the steps toward more gun control that Dionne hails as a small victory are in fact a poison pill:

Just in case it wasn’t crystal-clear from what Dionne wrote:

This vote was not to pass a bill. There is no official bill as of yet. What 31 Senators voted to do was to stop TALKING about a bill to moderate firearms. Had 41 Senators voted against it, the Senate would stop TALKING about a bill.

Little wonder why we think that the current government is dysfunctional. And if you look at the voting record on this filibuster attempt: you know which party to blame for that. Hint: it begins with an “R.”

Cato78 argues that the gun-control side is arguing in bad faith, cannot be trusted and doesn’t care about kids:

What the real gun control advocates want is repeal of the 2nd Amendment and confiscation of all guns from private citizens. Unwilling politically to push that non-starter, and unwilling intellectually to admit that it’s the demented who commit the mass atrocities that are so useful to the gun control zealots’ cause, they take the easy path of demagoguery and hypocrisy by advocating “feel-good” legislation that will do nothing for the safety of society.

blert argues that the gun-rights side is being cravenly political and don’t care about kids:

Let’s not get too excited about the promise of that Senate vote to begin debate. Republicans were very much prepared to filibuster, and they would have, except that it was politically more advantageous not to. This vote was a vote based in reason, but not one rooted in reason on guns. The Senate GOP made a political calculation–opening debate, proposing amendments, and bringing forth votes puts senators on record. Democrats, especially those vulnerable in 2014, will be under intense pressure.

Then, when the bill fails, the GOP can turn around and say that it was not just the GOP’s fault. After all, they didn’t block the bill, and many Democrats also voted against it.

Debating this bill is likely a win-win for the GOP. Why filibuster when debating wins political points and the bill isn’t likely to pass anyway?

All of this is very emotional, but not so much about the dead kids. It’s about which side you’re on and how the other side is evil and unfair and doesn’t care at all about the dead kids. Oddly enough, that might indeed be the purely logical, not emotion-driven response to a bunch of murdered kids, and PostScript doesn’t like it much.