April 18, 2013
President Barack Obama has been struggling to wrap his head around the “unimaginable” idea that Congress may “defy” the American people and stop a vote on a gun control package compromise. The notion, he says, resists the “overwhelming instinct of the American people” after the massacre in Newtown, Conn., to pass gun control legislation.
Well, the unthinkable happened. The Senate’s sweeping gun legislation came up short on the votes required to move forward. And despite all the idealistic calls for passage and despite the fact that many pundits and advocates seem to believe that something should be law simply because “the vast majority of Americans” support it, not every issue deserves a majoritarian decision.
To begin with, whether Democrats like it or not, this issue concerns the Constitution — where stuff was written down for a reason. That’s not to say that expanding background checks or banning “assault rifles” would be unconstitutional (though you may believe they both should be). It’s to say that when you begin meddling with protections explicitly laid out in the founding document, a 60-vote threshold that slows down stampeding legislators is the least we deserve.