It's easy to feel anger and to feel discouraged about the cowardice of the United States senators who voted against even the weakest of gun control measures yesterday.
Good. Get angry at the cowards. Those of us who care about sane gun laws need to get as motivated as the other side. The only reason they win these votes is that politicians know that gun lovers will vote on that issue alone, while the majority that supports stronger controls count this as one of many issues that are important to us.
But in order to not lose heart, here are some things to keep in mind.
First, there were 55 votes for increasing background checks to cover the up to 40% of gun sales that occur at gun shows or online. The only reason it didn't pass was because of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's decision to require sixty votes for all amendments. That was a questionable strategy that should be rethought, and Reid gave himself that opportunity by using a procedural move to allow him to bring the issue back for a vote.
Second, President Obama may have lost this battle, but he can still win the war. With 92% of Americans supporting the background check bill, he should keep taking this to the people and keep the pressure on.
Third, this kind of slap in the face to the clear will of the vast majority of Americans tends to make those Americans angry. There is no better way to illustrate the wild, senseless, irresponsible extremism of the NRA and those politicians who listen to them than with this vote. The fact that the NRA blatantly lied about the bill's contents only adds fuel to the fire.
What can we do? Keep the pressure on. Demand that Senator Reid call for another vote this time with a simple majority. Pummel Senator Ron Johnson (R-NRA) with letters, emails and telephone calls. (While we're at it we can thank Senator Tammy Baldwin for her good votes on these issues.)
Will Johnson ever do the right thing? Of course not. The man is hopeless and immune to reason on this and just about everything else. But that doesn't mean we should give him a pass. Let's make it clear that he is voting against the clear expressed interests of his constituents. And let's get even more motivated to replace him in four years.