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Why the Gun Lobby Defeated Background Checks

Two-thirds of the country wanted the Senate to approve the gun background checks amendment, which failed to get 60 votes last week. From Gallup:

(Asked of a half sample) As you may know, last week the U.S. Senate voted on, but did not pass, a measure to expand background checks for gun purchases. Do you think the Senate should or should not have passed the measure to expand background checks for gun purchases? April 2013 results

This poll shows two things. First, the insane rules of the Senate continue to undermine democracy. Only in America can something with 65 percent support and the votes of 55 percent of a legislative chamber fail simply because the rules theoretically allow “debate” to stay open forever.

Second, it shows why the gun lobby ultimately won. They successfully managed to make this vote on background checks about something more than just background checks.

This same poll asked people if they would vote for a ballot initiative that would require background checks on all gun sales and 83 percent said they would support that. Despite 83 percent supporting the contents of the Manchin-Toomey amendment only 65 percent wanted it to pass. The gun lobby effectively lied about what was in the amendment and/or convinced a large number of people it would somehow start a unstoppable slippery slope to much stronger gun control.

As a result, the poll found only 45 percent of Republicans wanted to see the amendment pass, while 50 percent wanted it to fail. There was apparently enough opposition in the base to make almost all Republicans in the Senate vote against it.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at