Some interests more special than others

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

Gabrielle Giffords on the Senate's failure to pass any of the three gun control legislation measures today. When something like the Toomey-Manchin bill which would extend background checks and which 90 percent of the country supports gets rejected by the Senate, it's clear who the Senate represents. It's not the majority.

You can peruse the list of Senators who voted for and against the measure. All but four Republicans voted against the measure, and four Democrats defected and voted against the measure.

Even if the Senate had passed the measure, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would have ended its hopes.

If there is any consolation in this effort, it's that the Senators who voted against the measure were acting not as representatives of the people but as self-interested politicians. It means that there is a clear path to defeating the NRA: deliver more money and more votes.

Obama summed up the situation clearly:

They are better organized, they are better financed, they’ve been at it longer and they make sure to stay focused on this one issue during election time. That’s the reason why you can have something that 90 percent of Americans support and you can't get it through the Senate or the House of Representatives.

Your Senator will represent you, but it's going to cost you.