From the Chicago Tribune:
The Republican Party got caught last week, caught protecting the gun lobby instead of listening to a nation that says too many parents are burying too many children whose lives were taken by a bullet.The Republican Party got caught last week, caught making a political calculation that the funerals of 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School were beginning to fade from consciousness. It was safe now to go back to business as usual, taking the money and blessings of the National Rifle Association and doing its bidding.
No, not this time.
The GOP majority in the Senate defeated a measure to require that all dealers at gun shows conduct background checks on their buyers. The Republicans substituted a canard of a bill that would set up ``voluntary' checks at the notorious firearms bazaars that pop up around the country.
But something happened overnight. The GOP leaders apparently heard from Americans who are outraged over gun violence and offended by the Senate's blithe disregard for it.
It would be pleasant to report that Senate Republicans saw the light, but they didn't. Not really. They saw a need to create more cover for themselves.
They claimed to have reversed course and they passed legislation that they said would, indeed, require background checks at gun shows. It doesn't.
It's a fraud.
It has too many loopholes to be meaningful in the effort to curb the gun racket.
And to add more insult, the Senate defeated a bill to regulate gun sales on the Internet and the leaders moved to close off more debate on the issue.
They patted themselves on the back for voting to make it illegal to sell a semiautomatic assault weapon to anyone under 18. That's good as far as it goes. But why should anyone have access to weapons that serve no purpose but to kill people?
There were a few welcome signs out of this debate, particularly from Illinois. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who has consistently voted against gun control, said he would be willing to consider some measures. That's a positive step.
Most encouraging of all was that in his first critical votes on the issue, Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., broke with party leaders to support gun control measures. He studied the bills, he acted in good conscience and he backed his campaign rhetoric with deeds. Thank you, senator.
Would that the rest of the Republican Party had followed Fitzgerald's example.
If it had, the GOP would stand tall today for listening to the will of the people. Instead, it faces a monumental job of repairing its shattered credibility.
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