Ringside Seat: Filibuster: 1; Background Checks: 0

This afternoon, the Manchin-Toomey amendment—a proposal to expand background checks to gun purchases that occur at gun shows and online—failed to be adopted, despite the fact that a majority of senators favored it. That's because today's vote wasn't a vote on the bill, it was a vote to have a vote on the bill. It was a vote to end a filibuster. The people who voted "no" were saying that they were so violently opposed to this modest expansion of background checks that they refused to even allow the Senate to vote on the bill. The overwhelming majority of the filibuster supporters were Republicans, but a few Democrats joined them as well. Remember these names: Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Max Baucus (MT), Mark Begich (AK), and Mark Pryor (AR).

Even this compromise bill, worked out by two senators with "A" ratings from the NRA, was just too radical for those 41 Republican and four Democratic senators to live with. And even if it had been adopted, it would have faced an even harder time in the House, where Speaker John Boehner might have just let it die, as is the prerogative of his office.

That doesn't mean this battle is over; these kinds of legislative efforts can take years. But if your definition of "freedom" is being allowed to go online and order an AR-15 from some sketchy dude using an alias without having to answer any inconvenient questions, congratulations. Your freedom lives. For the rest of us, there isn't much to celebrate.

So They Say

“There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn't do this. It came down to politics. All in all this was a pretty shameful day for Washington but this effort is not over."

President Obama, in a press conference on the failure of Manchin-Toomey


Daily Meme: Searching for Answers

  • The media went hysterical today as news of multiple ricin-laced letters and potential suspects in the Boston bombing case consumed everyone's attention. But in the melee over news that turned out to be ... just the opposite, here's some things you may have missed. 

  • First of all, what is the "ricin" at the heart of the news that two Senate offices—and the president—received poisoned letters? Here's a thorough explainer. The FBI is currently investigating, and there isn't much of value to report at this time. 

  • In the case of Boston, the level of misreporting led the Columbia Journalism Review to tweet out a forlorn "sigh," so be wary of any breaking news reports you see. Here's what we do know.

  • For now, there's no saying when we'll have any new information on possible suspects, which makes it a perfect time to step back and look at the big picture, and what awaits us, Boston, and the victims of the explosion down the road.

  • For the victims now immortalized in the photographs we've poured over for days, some of whom must face life without limbs, a difficult few months and years lie ahead.

  • Not to mention the harrowing emotional toll that horrific events like this take on a faw larger number of people.

  • Not to mention the surgeons, many who had never seen fresh war wounds in the safety of the Back Bay.

  • But, as Atul Gawande points out, the ceaseless crises that hit doctors both here and abroad, as heartbreaking as it is to note, made them more than ready to save lives in Boston.

  • David Sirota wrote yesterday, regarding the identity of the bomber: "If recent history is any guide, if the bomber ends up being a white anti-government extremist, white privilege will likely mean the attack is portrayed as just an isolated incident—one that has no bearing on any larger policy debates."

  • But what about the City on a Hill? Where does its fate lie? NPR says, "To America, Boston has long been a living, moving national monument. Now, because of these horrifying events, Boston will mean something new, something more for a while. Perhaps for a long, long while."

  • Dennis Lehane wrote today: "Boston took a punch on Monday—two of them, actually—that left it staggering for a bit. Flesh proved vulnerable, as flesh is wont to do, but the spirit merely trembled before recasting itself into something stronger than any bomb or rage."

What We're Writing

  • The United States has suffered through bombings in public spaces for more than 150 years. Our intern team has compiled an interactive timeline examining those tragic incidents from 1866 through last Monday.
  • In the few places where the normal Boston routine still prevails, writes Chris Faraone, it's been cast in a whole new light. "Since the ordinary turned eerie, everything feels oddly new."

What We're Reading

  • Why the heck is Harrison Ford getting involved in the fight over sequester cuts? Let Joshua Green explain.
  • Lydia DePillis at TNR made a Tumblr showing all the many places and professions that remain "Boys Only."
  • Here are eight other gun bills under consideration in the Senate, including Dianne Feinstein's assault-weapons ban.
  • Jason Farago makes the case that we should look at photos like the one of the man in the wheelchair from Monday.
  • Irin Carmon says: Wait! There is a Gosnell conspiracy! But it's not the one the right has been griping about.
  • McCain and Schumer's working relationship seems completely dependent on the former presidential candidate plying the New York senator with candy. 

Poll of the Day

Former congressman and high-profile sexter Anthony Weiner would finish second in the Democratic primary for New York mayor if it were held today. Weiner received a surprising 15 percent of the vote in a NBC New York-Marist poll released late Tuesday, bested only by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's 26 percent.

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