Forget the Senators, Love the Mayors

by Bob Schwartz

Mayor Annise Parker

If you are one of those angered and ashamed of members of the U.S. Senate today, you are not alone.

Forty-six U.S. Senators voted against the Manchin Amendment to the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013. This amendment to the gun violence bill was crafted by Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) to be the mildest, least objectionable expansion of background checks conceivable. They tried.

The amendment was rejected. The vote was 54 Yeas to 46 Nays, less than the 60 votes needed under the Senate rules. All the other amendments attempting to enhance regulation also failed.

Three Republicans voted for the amendment, including Toomey, Susan Collins of Maine and John McCain of Arizona. McCain deserves special mention. From the year 2000 on, including the 2008 Presidential election, his “maverick” and “straight talk” credentials have been an on-again, off-again affair. At least for this amendment (though he did not support any other regulation), he took a stand.

Here are the Senators who voted against any expansion of background checks, no matter how small:

Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Begich (D-AK)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Enzi (R-WY)
Fischer (R-NE)
Flake (R-AZ)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (R-WI)
Lee (R-UT)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Paul (R-KY)
Portman (R-OH)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rubio (R-FL)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

For a change, we have a post-partisan moment, where some Democrats and Republicans can agree on something: the status quo of guns in America is just fine.

Forget the Senators. Whether they believe it or not, a political steamroller is on its way that, no matter how they calculate home state interests or expect the NRA to protect them, will flatten them like Wile E. Coyote in a Roadrunner cartoon. Too wily by half.

Let’s talk about mayors, the politicians who can’t distance themselves from the harsh realities of American life, politicians who, unlike others, have to actually work for a living and try, as best they can, to do a little something to make things better.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns is a coalition of over 900 mayors from big cities and small towns across the country:

As mayors, our highest responsibility is to enforce the law and to protect the people we serve. One of the most difficult challenges we face in meeting this responsibility is preventing criminals from illegally obtaining guns and using them. The issue of illegal guns is not conservative or liberal; it is an issue of law and order — and life or death.…

[W]hat binds us together is a determination to fight crime, and a belief that we can do more to stop criminals from getting guns while also protecting the rights of citizens to freely own them.  We have seen how the polarizing rhetoric of gun politics on all sides only obscures the tragic reality we see every day on our streets: violent criminals with easy access to illegal guns.

Above is a photo of Mayor Annise Parker of Houston. She is shown as a representative mayor against illegal guns because Houston is also the home of Senator Ted Cruz, one of the most vocal opponents of any gun legislation.

Maybe what we need to do is replace these Senators at the next available opportunity with almost any of these mayors. These mayors aren’t all angels, but they don’t have time to be blowhards or ideological purists. They know how to get the job done, know what it is to tackle difficult issues, and know what it’s like to do the dirty work of cleaning up messes—and most of all figuring out how to avoid some of those messes in the first place. They could do better, in part because nobody could do worse.