"Dianne has worked so hard on this. She understands going back to the day she found the mayor dead in his office. Right now her amendment, using the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes. That’s not 60. I have to get something on the floor so we can have votes on that issue and the other issues that I’ve talked about. And that’s what I’m going to try to do."Michael Moore called Harry Reid a "little weenie," a follow-up on what he called Reid a month ago, "the biggest weenie leading a party of wimps." Is it better to be a little weenie or a big weenie?
Interestingly, Michael Moore does not accuse Republicans of cowardice on this issue. Instead he professes to admire them and the NRA for standing firm on their position. Democrats, however, must believe what Michael Moore and Piers Morgan believe, or they are cowards.
There are 53 Democrats in the U.S. Senate, and we don't know for certain yet which 13 or more are unwilling to vote for the assault weapons ban, but we do know the names of the 22 Democrats who signed on as cosponsors. It's not that hard to figure out who the 31 were that would not sign on, and that of course must necessarily be the list of cowards.
|"Hero" Democratic Senators who cosponsored assault weapons ban|
|Frank Lautenberg||New Jersey||2014||Obama|
|Robert Menendez||New Jersey||2018||Obama|
|Charles Schumer||New York||2016||Obama|
|Kirsten Gillibrand||New York||2018||Obama|
|Jack Reed||Rhode Island||2014||Obama|
|Sheldon Whitehouse||Rhode Island||2018||Obama|
|John Rockefeller||West Virginia||2014||Romney|
|"Coward" Democratic Senators who declined to stand with Feinstein|
|Jeanne Shaheen||New Hampshire||2014||Obama|
|Tom Udall||New Mexico||2014||Obama|
|Martin Heinrich||New Mexico||2018||Obama|
|Kay Hagan||North Carolina||2014||Romney|
|Heidi Heitkamp||North Dakota||2018||Romney|
|Bob Casey, Jr.||Pennsylvania||2018||Obama|
|Tim Johnson||South Dakota||2014||Romney|
|Joe Manchin||West Virginia||2018||Romney|
But are all those Democrats who declined to stand with Feinstein cowards? Yes, 13 of 31 are up for reelection in 2014, but that's not the whole story - 11 are from states that Mitt Romney carried in the 2012 election and 9 are women. Cowardly women, in the eyes of Michael Moore and Piers Morgan.
The real issue is geography. Most people from cities don't see much use to owning a semi-automatic rifle. You can't carry it around the neighborhood. You can't take it down to the nearest city park for a little target practice. Sure, you can go to an indoor shooting range, but that's so claustrophobic. On the other hand, if you live in the country or know someone who has land you can use, then owning a semi-automatic rifle can be a great way to pass a pleasant afternoon.
So, when you look at the coward's list and see progressive western states like Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, and Colorado with plenty of wide open spaces, that's the real story. It's not cowardice at all. A great many of these 31 Democratic Senators just don't believe in the assault weapons ban or know the constituents at home they are elected to represent don't support it.
Dianne Feinstein is from San Francisco, and the mayor she found dead in his office was George Moscone, who along with supervisor Harvey Milk was killed by former supervisor Dan White. Here's how Senator Feinstein described that in a recent Senate committee hearing exchange with Texas Senator Ted Cruz:
"I walked in, I saw people shot. I’ve looked at bodies that have been shot with these weapons. I’ve seen the bullets that implode."Dianne found Ted's remarks in that exchange to be patronizing, and said so. She probably found Harry's "Dianne has worked so hard on this" tone patronizing too, although she hasn't said so yet.
But it should be pointed out that the phrase "shot with these weapons" implies that Moscone and Milk were killed with an assault weapon of the type that Senator Feinstein had proposed to ban. They were not, Dan White used a revolver.
Dan White, however, like the other high-profile killers that prompted Feinstein's call for the ban, was mentally unbalanced. One purpose of a good background check system would be to identify people like that, and prevent them from buying weapons, whether they are trying to buy semi-automatic rifles or revolvers.
We're not going to stop them all. In Dan White's case, he had been a policeman before becoming a San Francisco supervisor, and he used his old service revolver, not a newly-purchased gun. That's why it makes sense to limit magazine size. So that the ones that get through the system have some limit on the damage they can do. The 100-round drum magazine that the shooter used in Aurora last summer is too much firepower in the hands of a criminal or deranged individual. Fortunately, it jammed, or the carnage might have been much worse than 12 dead and 58 injured, horrible enough.
And what about your Constitutional Second Amendment right to a 100-round drum magazine? The Supreme Court has ruled there is no right to unusually dangerous weapons. You can have just as much fun on a Saturday afternoon in the country with a 10 to 20 round clip, and save money on bullets.
Dan White served five years, as he was convicted only of manslaughter having escaped the murder rap with his famous twinkie defense. This is why many gun owners complain that the laws we have are not being enforced. A couple of years after being released, Dan White killed himself. Fortunately, he did not take anyone else with him. If he'd been given life in prison, he might be still alive today.
Another outrage is that very few people who fail the current background check are prosecuted. According to The New York Times, only 44 of nearly 80,000 who failed in 2010 were prosecuted even though 47% of that 80,000 had felony arrests and 19% were fugitives.
Update 3/20/2013: The news today is that those cowardly Colorado Democrats put in place a new state law requiring background checks for online and private gun sales and banning magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. I suggested that back on January 18. It only took two months for Colorado to catch on. How long will it take Congress?