â€œThe current system is broken,â€ he said. â€œWhy in the world would you expand that system if youâ€™re not enforcing the law that exists today to include private transfers? So I think that legislation is going nowhere, but Iâ€™d like to have a robust debate about improving the system.â€
McCain would be a crucial vote for getting to 60, in order to pass something in the Senate. I would have previously thought he’d have hung us out to dry long ago if the issue was banning private transfers, so I’m surprised he is (so far) holding out. Perhaps even Senator McCain seesÂ the current proposal regulating even temporary transfersÂ is completely unacceptable, but McCain’s bills regulating private transfers and gun shows were pretty awful too.
This is where things start to get tricky. If the Republicans and Democrats go along party lines, the Democrats have 55 votes out of the gate, but reality is that there would likely be some aisle crossing on both sides.Â This is where things can come down to how badly you lose, rather than whether you can win.Â Sure, you can bet the Dems can’t come up with 60 votes, and oppose any and everything, and maybe you’ll win that bet. But what if you don’t? Do you trust House leadership to kill anything that passes the Senate with a 60 vote margin, even if it’s something as bad as Schumer’s background check bill? Do you float an alternative bill that has the worst of what you oppose removed, and offer a sacrifice to the “something must be done” gods?
We’ve been here many times before, and short of total victory, there will be a lot of second guessing and blame going around. But what choice would you make? If the choice is between bad and disastrous, do you risk disastrous? I think there are times when the answer to that is yes, but I don’t think it’s always a black or white issue. It may be that we’re confident they can’t get to 60 on anything, or the House is a stronger bulwark against gun control than I would imagine, and opposing anything and everything is the smart tactic for this particular situation. But I don’t think we ought to be blind to reality, and reality is that when you’re dealing with slim margins the situation can go south in a hurry.
If all 80 million, or hell, even 20 million, gun owners called or wrote their Senators, we would not even be having this conversation, but the reality is most will not. Meanwhile, Bloomberg will continue to run ads telling everyone how reasonable “universal background checks” are, and who could be opposed to that? The White House will continue to twist arms. Lobbyists on their side tell lawmakers to look at their polling, and try to convince them any opposition to gun control is already baked into the election figured. Our lobbyists will show their polling, and threaten to upset apple carts in 2014. Can we keep 41 Senators? How confident would you be?