The Score: GOP/NRA 46 to 54 for Gun Reform: Gun Reform Loses

Only in the USA could a majority vote for Gun Reform be turned upside  down in the US Senate. This is on Universal Gun Buyer Background checks which currently have majority popular support reaching as high as  91% of the US electorate in over a half dozen polls. No matter how you ask the question, a majority of the Public supports background checks. But because it was a cloture vote in the Senate, the majority of Senators in favor of universal background checks were thwarted because a 60-to 40 vote or better is required on the once rarely used Senate Cloture vote.  But Cloture or Filibuster votes are are now regularly employed by the GOP to obstruct and thwart legislation which would otherwise pass in the Senate.

GOP+NRA Argument Against Gun Reform- “It Wont be Effective”

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Note this great video from the Daily Show is available only in the US

John Oliver does a  superb send-up on the Daily Show, Gun Control Whoop-Dee-Do. This video shows in hilarious fashion how effective comprehensive Gun Reform has been in Australia[unfortunately Comedy Central only allows its video to be viewed in the US]. Until Gun Reform in Australia in 1996 there had been mass shootings of 4 or more persons 11 times in the previous the ten years . Since the 1996 legislation there have been none. The NRA and the Republican party have been trying to suppress such clear evidence on the effectiveness of Gun Reform. Slate Magazine has a superb report on the effectiveness of the Australian Gun Reform and the GOP+NRA campaign to discredit the Australian results:

On April 28, 1996, a gunman opened fire on tourists in a seaside resort in Port Arthur, Tasmania. By the time he was finished, he had killed 35 people and wounded 23 more. It was the worst mass murder in Australia’s history.

Twelve days later, Australia’s government did something remarkable. Led by newly elected conservative Prime Minister John Howard, it announced a bipartisan deal with state and local governments to enact sweeping gun-control measures. A decade and a half hence, the results of these policy changes are clear: They worked really, really well.

At the heart of the push was a massive buyback of more than 600,000 semi-automatic shotguns and rifles, or about one-fifth of all firearms in circulation in Australia. The country’s new gun laws prohibited private sales, required that all weapons be individually registered to their owners, and required that gun buyers present a “genuine reason” for needing each weapon at the time of the purchase. (Self-defense did not count.) In the wake of the tragedy, polls showed public support for these measures at upwards of 90 percent.

What happened next has been the subject of several academic studies. Violent crime and gun-related deaths did not come to an end in Australia, of course. But as the Washington Post’s Wonkblog pointed out in August, homicides by firearm plunged 59 percent between 1995 and 2006, with no corresponding increase in non-firearm-related homicides. The drop in suicides by gun was even steeper: 65 percent. Studies found a close correlation between the sharp declines and the gun buybacks. Robberies involving a firearm also dropped significantly. Meanwhile, home invasions did not increase, contrary to fears that firearm ownership is needed to deter such crimes. But here’s the most stunning statistic. In the decade before the Port Arthur massacre, there had been 11 mass shootings in the country. There hasn’t been a single one in Australia since.

So when President Obama and Arizona mass murder casualty Pat Maisich said “shame on you” to the 40 GOP and 4 Democratic Senators for their cowardice and caving to the NRA, they clearly had the moral high ground. So the US will likely suffer another 31,000 gun related deaths in 2013 – also likely in the pattern of 2010: 1000 accidental, 11,000 homicides, 19,000 suicides. In Australia the total is 236 total gun related deaths in 2010 up from 227 in 2009. In Britain the total of gun related deaths is 155 for 2010 despite having a population that is nearly double Australia’s. So the US which has spent trillions of dollars on anti-terrorist activities for approximately 7000 total US deaths is willing to do nothing more on gun related deaths. This means Guns will rank just below Breast Cancer for cause of annual deaths in the US. Gun Run anyone?

Democracy Thwarted

Ye Editor is taking the Coursera  Democratic Development by Stanford University Professor Diamond. In the course Professor Diamond examines some of the key measures of democracy. The US  is ranked 27th among the over 160 countries rated Democratic. The US slips notably in 4 areas:
Rule of Law – versus the Too Big To Jail of Wall Street bankers and financial executives
Voting Rights and Election Validity  – versus US recent GOP restrictions on voting qualifications despite virtually no cases of election fraud plus the Presidential election controversies in 2000 in Florida and 2004 in Ohio.
Freedoms Preservation – Supreme Court Jan 2010 decision making Corporations equivalent to individuals in Freedom od Speech rights where clearly  they are not the equivalent of individuals. First, most corporations reflect only the views of the top executives and board not at all the totality of views represented by the corporations employees, supplier, shareholders and other stakeholders. As well most corporations can marshall much more cash and other influences than most inividuals.
Fair Representation – the Senate cloture rule sees ever more frequent usage. There were 180  in 2011 – and threats of cloture even more frequent. This then defeats measures where a  natural majority  vote would ordinarily prevail.

Of the attacks on US Democracy, the cloture rule seems the most perfidious because as we have seen on the Gun reform vote – the clear evidence of Gun reform’s effectiveness can be ignored as well as the will of the Public as reflected in several dozen polls. It reminds one of the Pogo line – “We have met the enemy and they is US”.

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