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Ten Years After Caving on Iraq, Senate Democrats Cave on Assault Weapons

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It wasn't the first time, and it won't be the last time, but yesterday I was ashamed to be a registered member of the Democratic Party. Not only was it the tenth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which more than half of all Senate Democrats along with 81 House Democrats supported, but it was also a day when the Democratic Party handed the National Rifle Association its biggest victory this year without even putting up a fight.

I'm not simply referring to the fact that Harry Reid has decided to pull the Feinstein section of the Senate gun control bill that intend to ban 157 different military-style weapons, I'm also talking about the broad flaccidity of the Democrats on this issue -- flaccidity all across the board, from activists to financiers to to the president to the party apparatus itself, the likes of which were on display ten years ago when too many Democrats endorsed the ill-fated crusade into Iraq.

Let's start with Reid himself. Once again, Reid's well-earned Droopy Dog caricature reemerged and allowed the majority party in the Senate to be steamrolled, not just by the Republicans and the NRA, but by at least 15 members of his own party -- 15 Democrats, including Reid himself, have refused support a new assault weapons ban. It's no secret that Reid is one of many congressional Democrats who's sympathetic to the NRA, and the NRA has returned the favor with a friendly "B" grade for Droopy, signifying "a generally pro-gun candidate; may have opposed some pro-gun reform in the past."

Reid said, "I'm not going to try to put something on the floor that won't succeed. I want something that will succeed. I think the worst of all worlds would be to bring something to the floor and it dies there."

So right off the bat, we're not going to get an assault weapons ban, even with the most horrifying massacre since September 11 as the backdrop. But, worse, we're not even going to get the completely ineffectual symbolic vote on the ban -- a vote which the president demanded during what might've been the most emotional section of a State of the Union address in many years. Reid could very easily bring Feinstein's bill to the floor as its own piece of legislation and offer it up for a futile symbolic vote, thus putting the biggest Wayne LaPierre fanboys on record opposing a ban on weapons that are solely designed to hunt people and nothing else, but he won't do that.

Ten years ago, most of the Senate Democrats were more than willing to sign their name to the biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of the United States, primarily due to pressure from the Bush/Rove/Cheney White House which accused the Democrats of being weak on terrorism, but also because of the ongoing shellshock and post-traumatic stress of September 11. (Technically, the Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force was signed in October, 2002.) What can we gather from the disparity between voting for the war and against the assault weapons ban, each vote following on the heels of a national tragedy? Obviously, Democrats are more willing to vote for a misguided war than to prevent the proliferation of weapons of war.

This distinction is arguably the prime mover of the American gun culture. Our elected representatives -- even the representatives of the liberal party -- are all too willing to assist in authorizing roid-raging deadly force as a means of resolving problems. I would suggest that American warfare, and the willing participation of our elected leaders, is considerably more influential than nearly anything else when it comes to armed citizens resolving their own issues by similar gunfire. Ten years ago, and, in fact, throughout the history of the United States, exuberant warmongering has been a tragic measure of American patriotism. Strangely, and according to many historians, the 2nd Amendment was intended as a means of patriotic defense of the country, yet the people who self-identify as the most patriotic Americans have misappropriated the 2nd Amendment as a means of defense against the government -- the government that we were forcefully commanded to unconditionally support during the lead-up to Iraq.

Here we are, ten years later, Democrats -- commemorating an unnecessary war in Iraq by continuing to allow gun fetishists to purchase unnecessary weapons of war. And, ten years later, the Democratic Party has been entirely incapable of standing firm against either. Tens of thousands of American casualties in Iraq, and far too many casualties at the point of military assault weapons inside our schools, malls and theaters. Here's to hoping the Democrats take a good look at various state legislators who are doing the heavy-lifting on gun control -- not only for tactical advice against the Republicans but also to get a sense of who might be next in line for their posts.

(With apologies to Droopy Dog.)