Jewish advocates for gun control are vowing to turn up their grassroots pressure on certain senators to change their minds, or work hard to see them turned out of office following the Senate’s rejection of an amendment that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers.
Left with precious few options, supporters of gun control, both Jewish and non-Jewish, believe they can ultimately revive the measure, which died in the Senate on April 17, by harnessing the voices of the 90% of Americans who, according to public opinion polls, backed the failed legislation.
But either way, a second round in the battle for greater regulation of guns appears to be off the table in the short-term after the powerful gun lobby successfully dissuaded senators who were up for re-election from supporting the bill.
Jewish members of Congress have taken a leading role in fighting for greater regulation of gun sales and possession following the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings in Newtown, Conn. last October that left 20 children and seven adults dead. And that prominence continued in the immediate aftermath of the measure’s failure to get 60 of 100 Senate votes, as has become necessary in recent years under Senate procedures for moving legislation forward.
Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal, in whose state the killings took place, stood before reporters on Capitol Hill shortly after only 54 senators voted to block a filibuster of the measure, flanked by families whose children had been killed at Sandy Hook, and declared the legislation’s demise “probably the saddest day of my public life.”
The legislative amendment backed by Blumenthal and the Senate’s 10 other Jewish lawmakers would have closed large loopholes that allow gun buyers under current law to avoid background checks that block sales to convicted felons or individuals with a history of mental illness. Those who buy from established gun shops must currently undergo such checks. But buyers at traveling gun shows or in private transactions — some 40% of all gun sales — do not.