The last 24 hours demonstrate, unless anyone had any doubt, that Republicans are unwilling to consider any reasonable gun measures, even reconsidering the bill they passed last year making it easier for mentally ill Social Security disability-benefits recipients to get guns. Nothing to be done. Now is not the time, House Speaker Paul Ryan intoned, sounding like a parody that frustrated critics of the National Rifle Association would use to mock him.
“If we do something, it should be something that works. And the struggle up to this point has been that most of the proposals that have been offered would not have prevented, not just yesterday’s tragedy, but any of those in recent history,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) claimed without support. CNN reported:
Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson countered Rubio’s assertion that stricter gun laws could not have prevented Wednesday’s shooting. We don’t know that. Where in all of these mass shootings, you enumerated some, that go back to Columbine, where in all of these mass shootings if an assault rifle were not legal and therefore you could not purchase it, would not one of those rifles have been able to be used in the massacre?” Nelson said. “I was raised on a ranch. I’ve had guns all my life. I’ve hunted all my life. I still hunt with my son. You don’t need an AR-15 for hunting.”
The voters will have a choice in November: Reelect Nelson or vote for someone like current Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who remains adamantly opposed to ruffling the NRA’s feathers. We should be very clear that the barrier to discussing any measure relating to guns resides in one party, which now speaks virtually with one voice. They accept the NRA’s money, but even worse, have fallen in line with the far-right propaganda that any gun measure means a surrender to urban elites who want to change their way of life. Their way of life, horrifically, now includes one school shooting after another. Perhaps there are some Republicans, somewhere, who can break the unrestricted gun crowd’s grip; if so, they aren’t in evidence. If you are dissatisfied with anti-gun measure dogma, go vote.
Then there is the disgraceful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals mess. President Trump’s plan — really, Stephen Miller and Sen. Tom Cotton’s plan — to sink DACA reform and thereby genuflect once again before the nativist right “worked” like a charm. Trump’s measure, which would have slashed legal immigration and built the wall, got a pathetically low level of support (39 votes). However, with threats of a veto and an alarmist, inaccurate memo from the Department of Homeland Security claiming compromises would be the end of border security (utter poppycock), Trump was able to keep most Republicans in line. Previously pro-reform senators like Rubio and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) (who is trying his best to secure Trump’s support for a decision to reverse his retirement announcement and run for reelection) went along with Trump. All four voted for the Gang of 8 bill in 2013.
It is far from clear where things go from here. Republicans, however, have a problem: Do they really want to see mass deportations in an election year? That’s where we are heading unless they rethink their scraping and bowing before the anti-immigrant crowd. And those Republicans on the ballot in areas with a substantial Hispanic population — Heller, for one — may, if Democrats organize themselves, face an outsize turnout of voters perfectly aware who is responsible for throwing “dreamers” out.
At least we have clarity. The GOP in its current incarnation is emphatically opposed to any gun measures and to measures (that could pass) to protect dreamers. Voters can cast their ballots accordingly.