A SIMPLE PLAN II
Last year I wrote a short piece called “A Simple Plan,” written in reaction to the gridlock we were experiencing in Congress, over achieving the most reasonable, common-sense propositions put before either house.
The plan was simple. If members of Congress, in either house, could somehow form a small nodule of sensible legislators attached in no obvious fashion to either the Republicans or the Democrats, both parties would have to woo and win these perhaps twenty votes to achieve their ends. Ideally, in the process, the angry and punitive sections of legislation offered would be softened by reason so that we could get legislation that was reasonable, sensible in terms of economics, and on track to assist the entire country, not only one party or another.
Nothing seems to have changed in the intervening months. Neither party wants to cede to the other anything at all. The sequester has been allowed to begin because neither party could, or would, come up with sensible solutions to national problems by themselves without expecting to be excoriated for them.
In the matter of gun control, we have national polls that tell us 92 per cent of the nation wants better background checks on purchasers of weaponry. It appears neither party is willing to follow the dictates of the US Constitution, which makes members of Congress the people’s agents.
There is also the matter of the power of the National Rifle Association, which may or may not be able to make or break legislators across the country. The NRA has convinced members of Congress that it does have that power, and that if members do not toe the NRA line, they’ll become targets of massive advertising campaigns at the least, and at worst experience challenges when next they run from more devoted members of the NRA. This is called fear.
So herewith a second simple plan.
We read that Senate committees are voting almost daily to restrict some of the Second Amendment assumptions that have blossomed like weeds over the years. But we also read that these ideas won’t be brought to the Senate floor until next month.
Further we read that each draft that reaches the Senate floor will be voted for or against on strict party lines.
What this means is that it will be impossible for any meaningful reform regarding the use of firearms to pass. The Republicans hold firm and the Senate is stopped in its tracks.
The NRA is not an agent for any of us. Unelected, unappointed, completely free from oversight by any Congressional committee in either house, it says and does what it wants with impunity.
This could be changed in the Senate itself insofar as two-thirds of the Senate’s members are not subject to immediate re-election battles and therefore have four years in which to listen to their consciences and do the business of the people who elected them.
They then have four years in which to arm themselves against retaliation by the NRA, against being “primaried” by more rabid NRA advocates.
We don’t understand why two-thirds of the Senate doesn’t get this simple remedy.
Ideally, once the House understood that Republican Senators had spoken clearly for safety and security of their constituents, might not some of the more tractable denizens of the lower house be swayed by the bravery and resolve of their colleagues in the upper house?
What seems almost other-worldly is that the House itself has suffered losses to gun violence. Families of house members have suffered as well. One might think that these experiences would play some small role in how it views gun control in the first place.
The country will never free itself of mental disease or sociopaths whose lives and thoughts are so foreign to most of us. Any more than the country will free itself from use of firearms that is so strictly personal and violent as to be incomprehensible to most of us.
But we can make it more difficult for these disturbed people to have the opportunity to harm US citizens as often and as broadly as they do.
But we have to make some efforts here.
And as our agents in the nation’s capital, House members and Senators alike have an obligation to us all to try to fashion a safer, saner, more reasonable society in which we can all live.