Donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA) are more important than saving American lives. At least that’s what the Republican Party has increasingly shown since the nation was traumatized after 20 first graders were killed in Newtown, Connecticut.
Just after that tragedy, they shamelessly killed any attempt to make gun laws in the United States a little bit smarter. Now, barely a week after another American massacre took the lives of 49 innocent people in Orlando, Senate Republicans collectively responded in a similar fashion: “So what?”
In four Senate votes on Monday evening, the GOP-controlled Senate rejected even the most modest and common sense of proposals, including universal background checks, a ban on terror suspects from buying guns, and even a funding increase for the country’s screening system.
Not only is all of this legislation supported by the vast majority of Americans (90 percent of the general public and 80 percent of gun owners), but it would also make it harder for the deranged to get their hands on a weapon. It would almost certainly save lives.
But Republicans have long since stopped caring about rational policymaking when it comes to this issue. It’s not about preventing bloodshed or implementing legislation that we know would have a positive impact. Instead, they’ve decided that the benefits of NRA donations outweigh the downside of over 30,000 gun-related deaths per year in the United States.
They’d rather be re-elected than make sure more first-graders aren’t mowed down in their classrooms.
The 56 spineless Republican senators who voted against the gun measures on Monday have received a combined total of $36 million from the National Rifle Association. And every dime of that money has been well-spent as they consistently stand in the way of any meaningful action being taken.
We can argue about policy differences all day – it’s what American democracy is about. But on the issue of guns, it’s time to stop pretending this has anything to do with substantive disagreement. Anyone who has ever tried having a sensible discussion with a gun fanatic understands that thoughtful debate is not an option.
This is about one political party being under the tight grip of an organization that profits when more Americans are slaughtered. As a result, cowards in Congress continue to ensure that no legislation is passed that might help save lives. There’s no money in that, after all.
We can and should be angry about the Republican Party’s refusal to choose American lives over money from the gun lobby – especially in the face of such endless violence. But the only way to change the outcome is to punish them this November.
An earlier version of this article mistakenly said that the 56 senators who voted against Monday’s gun measures received a combined total of $56 million from the NRA. The correct figure is $36 million.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.