Mark Barden, the father of a Sandy Hook victim, President Obama and Vice President Biden made statements on gun violence yesterday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images) Mark Barden, the father of a Sandy Hook victim, President Obama and Vice President Biden made statements on gun violence yesterday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

With the full emotional force of the families of murdered children and a recent terrorist attack on the homeland, with a bill on an issue that polls at 90 percent favorability, with a reasonably popular president bully-pulpiting in its favor and with the notable sponsorship of two bipartisan senators, each with an A rating from the NRA, gun control efforts failed yesterday to get through the more liberal half of the legislative branch.

Sad trombone for democracy, as Dana Milbank writes it. A failure of political courage.

A few commenters dissented vociferously.


As usual Dana, you have all mixed up and backwards. It courage to stand in the face of the base, crude, and downright crass emotional appeals and stand on principle in opposition to legislation that, by the admission of the authors and proponents, would have done not a single solitary thing to prevent another massacre such as the one seen in Newtown. All this legislation would have done is made it harder for decent, law abiding citizens to exercise a right guaranteed to them under the Constitution.

PostScript would argue that that’s not “all” the legislation would have done; it also would make it harder for indecent, lawbreaking citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights.


Guys, we’ve been over this. The left has had gun confiscation in its sights for decades. You need to do it a bit at a time. Registering guns is a key component, but you can, so you call it ‘background checks’.

At this point, the gun control guys cry paranoia. They’re wrong. Sheesh, how many times do we need to cover this ground?

PostScript noticed that the commenters arguing against the bill echoed both of these arguments — that the bill was ineffective and weak and/or that it was way overreaching congressional powers and would lead inexorably to the government confiscating citizens’ guns. Normally, a bill that’s called both too weak and too strong already is a compromise.

Commenters who hoped the bill would pass were sad:


Courage is what the teachers did trying to protect and shield the 6-7 year olds under their care. I am today truly ashamed of what the Senate did. I am a combat vet from Vietnam, an owner of four guns, and a recent ex member of the NRA who wants to make sure anyone my family comes in contact with who has a gun has gone through the same background check I have. Disgusting.

And  several found silver linings, if cynical ones:


Thank you for naming names, Dana. Too often, reporting talks about political courage and cowardice but never identifies who displays them on a given issue. As a result, readers/voters are left with a sense of vague frustration. Your piece here reminds us that things happen or don’t happen in Congress because specific people decide to act or punt. Now I know whom I can respect and whom to despise.


In fairness, though, these Republican senators, and the couple of Democratic senators, did have the courage to show whom they really represented.


Take names, and get out the vote against those cowards.


That was apparently the point: money trumps the lives of young children. The only point of light is that the masks were brutally ripped off, and it became painfully clear where the loyalties of a lot of Senators lie.


Now Bloomberg’s billions will target blue and purple state Republicans. The irony of Citizens United.

And kguy1 hopes this episode will finally get Democratic Senators to favor filibuster reform:

Sure I blame the Republicans for this gutless display of political pandering, but I blame the Democrats for making it possible. They had a chance to change the filibuster rules and they did nothing. They don’t even have to talk to filibuster.

Maybe, say these commenters, it’s both a sad trombone and a wake-up call.