Any time there is a gun tragedy, such as the attack in Las Vegas that left 59 dead and more than 500 wounded, a familiar script unfurls.
Mainstream media and left-leaning politicians call for gun control; people on the right say it is too soon to talk about such issues, and the left says, “If not now, when?”
The answer to that question is “Some time, but not now.”
But to many in Washington and the mainstream media, the problem is not the timing; it’s the National Rifle Association. Three veteran think-tankers and pundits – E.J. Dionne, Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann – attempted to make that case in the Washington Post.
They chided the “politicians who carry water for the gun lobby” for declaring it premature to discuss gun control. And this, the trio wrote, “is damning evidence of the stranglehold that far-right lobbies have on today’s Republicans, who extol law and order except when maintaining it requires confronting the National Rifle Association.”
Confronting the NRA won’t happen, they wrote, because “something else is at work here … the United States is a non-majoritarian democracy.”
“Claims that our republic is democratic are undermined by a system that vastly overrepresents the interests of rural areas and small states,” they write. “This leaves the large share of Americans in metropolitan areas with limited influence over national policy. Nowhere is the imbalance more dramatic or destructive than on the issue of gun control.”
This is the very same argument Hillary Clinton made about the Electoral College. She ran up big margins in big coastal states but lost because she won almost nothing in between.
The column points to 2013, when, in the weeks after the Sandy Hook slaughter, the Senate voted 54-46 in favor of a background checks amendment offered by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. The 54 yes votes represented states that combined to account for 63 percent of the population. So, according to the column, the will of the 63 percent was thus foiled by the 37 thanks to Senate rules.
If all 50 senators from the 25 smallest states joined with the vice president to pass a bill, that bill would represent a victory of 16 percent of Americans over the other 84.
What they don’t note is that 37 states now are led by Republican governors. Both houses of Congress and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are controlled by Republicans. The GOP also controls 68 of the nation’s 99 state legislative bodies and has total control – governor and both houses of the legislature – in 32 states, compared to five for Democrats. During the Obama years, more than 1,000 state and federal legislative seats switched from Democrats to Republicans.
So maybe the majority is speaking on the matter of gun control and other legislation. Maybe the mainstream media just isn’t listening.