The Los Angeles Times does its level best to make it sound like Republicans blocked four gun bills last night in the Senate:
The Republican-led Senate on Monday voted down proposals to bar gun sales to terrorism suspects, notching another victory for gun rights advocates eight days after a gunman who had been on an FBI terrorism watch list killed 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
The votes marked the latest attempt by Democrats to break the congressional impasse on guns, a bitter partisan divide that long has blocked new federal regulations.
The body blocked all four proposed gun-related amendments – two by Democrats and two by Republicans – to a spending bill.
If you read that, and did not follow these matters closely (and trusted the L.A. Times), you could be forgiven for thinking that Republicans voted down the four measures even though two were proposed by one of their own.
That’s not what happened. What happened is: Republicans tried to toughen background checks and make it tougher for terrorists to buy guns, but their proposals were rejected by Democrats who instead wanted different measures that dispense with due process protections for law-abiding citizens trying to purchase firearms legally.
Politico (Politico!) (cached link) explains what actually happened, while still putting a spin on matters and trying to make it sound like Republicans’ fault:
Republicans and Democrats put forward dueling background check proposals . . . [T]he GOP plan, written primarily by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), pushes more resources to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System but doesn’t expand the universe of mandated background checks. His measure would also revise legal definitions on who is banned from owning a gun due to mental-health concerns. It also was blocked in the Senate, 53-47, rejected by nearly all Democrats but also Kirk and fellow Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) supported the measure.
The two parties also laid out opposing plans on preventing suspected terrorists from purchasing guns — and both faced quick doom in the Republican-led Senate.
“In the Republican Senate” — surely Republicans blocked both of these, no? Um, no.
The Republican proposal, which was written by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, would halt a sale only if a judge found probable cause that the person trying to buy the gun is involved in terrorist activities. Democrats say that burden of proof is too high. His legislation was blocked, too, with a 53-47 vote, with Republicans Kirk, Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine voting against it. Donnelly and Manchin voted with the GOP.
The near-party line votes occurred as Senate moderates made some movement toward a compromise plan to bar people suspected of terrorism from buying weapons — even though some Republican leaders were already skeptical of the effort, led by Collins.
Put it all together, and you learn that two GOP measures were shot down by Democrats, and two Democrat measures were shot down by Republicans. Indeed, one could even say that Republicans sought “to break the congressional impasse on guns” but were spurned by Democrats who wanted to claim that Republicans “have decided to sell weapons to ISIS.” (Keep reading; I’m not exaggerating.)
The squawking about the Cornyn measure (“they can’t possibly put their case together in three days!!!“) never seems to acknowledge that if you’re being put on a list, the government should already know why you’re on the list. The three days is time enough to grab that information, organize it, and present it to a judge.
Gabriel Malor explains what really happened last night:
On Monday evening, Senate Democrats put party over principle in rejecting common-sense, reasonable gun control measures. After the mass murder at Orlando gay club Pulse, Sen. Chris Murphy and his colleagues staged a flashy talk-a-thon in which they demanded that votes be taken on legislation strengthening gun control laws. The Senate Republicans agreed to the Democrats’ demand. Democrats got what they asked for, then blew it.
. . . .
Republicans were willing to link the terrorism watch list to a gun sales ban, as Democrats have demanded. The price of agreement was due-process protections for Americans placed on the list. But apparently due process is too much for the Democrats. They would rather have no sales ban than a sales ban that comports with the Fifth Amendment. The Democrats similarly rejected an incremental expansion of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Apparently, some gun control is not worth sharing credit with the Republicans.
Not content to merely vote against incremental gun control, Senate Democrats then decided to throw a tantrum about it. Murphy sleazed that Senate Republicans “have decided to sell weapons to ISIS.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted her agreement. Sen. Harry Reid nonsensically accused Republicans of blocking the very gun control measures Republicans had proposed.
Make no mistake: Senate Democrats rejected two incremental gun control bills for no other reason than that Republicans were voting for them. Democrats’ hatred for Republicans was more important to them than the moral standards they claim to possess.
But the media will continue to tell you that the “Republican led Senate” nixed all four proposals, making it sound as if Republicans voted against all four. This is because the media has an agenda, and because voters are easy to mislead.
You knew all that, but sometimes it bears repeating anyway.
UPDATE: Cornyn proposal provides for three days, not four. I have corrected the error.