As I’ve written, the fact that there was a Senate vote at all on gun control legislation this week showed how much the wind has shifted on this issue. Since 1994, Democrats have been as afraid of the NRA as the Republicans. This time they pushed for a vote, figuring NRA support can be turned against GOP candidates in at least a few states.
That progress is little comfort for those who desperately want to see something done to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerously unstable people. Background checks did get 54 votes in the Senate which, if not for yet another abuse of the filibuster, should have been enough.
But it’s not just the filibuster, it’s the design of the Senate, which gives a significant advantage to thinly-populated, rural states. As an NPR report reminds us, the Senate isn’t exactly a democratic institution:
The 20 least populous states, which among them account for just one-tenth of the nation’s population, provided 23 “no” votes, just over half of all the no votes cast. In contrast, the 20 most populous states, accounting for 76 percent of the nation’s population, provided 27 yes votes… In the case of an issue with a clear, urban-rural divide like gun control, the numbers are stacked against the wishes of city and suburb dwellers, even before factoring in Senate rules that allow a single member to gum up the works… Of the 45 real no votes Wednesday, 35 came from states that benefit from their over-representation in the Senate.