In My Opinion

Fabiola Santiago: Senate fails the nation, victims on gun control

It took Adam Lanza less than five minutes to kill 20 children and six educators using his mother’s high-powered military-style rifle.

Every day for eight days after the massacre, funeral processions made their way through the streets of Newtown. Inside most of those hearses were little caskets — someone’s precious child gone forever.

There can be no turning back from this moment.

Despite the setback this week in Congress, the discussion on gun control legislation is here to stay. We owe it to the victims of Newtown, Aurora, Tucson and so many other victims of shootings in neighborhoods turned into warzones by gun violence.

The defeat of an innocuous bipartisan bill should only fuel the outrage against the lack of action by our lawmakers.

How can a minority of U.S. senators elected to serve the American public be so disconnected and forget our tragedies so quickly? If the National Rifle Association is powerful enough to command the votes of our senators, we should be powerful enough to vote those politicians out of office.

The defeated bill sought to close a loop hole in current law, extending background checks that already exist for guns purchased at a store to Internet sales and traveling gun shows.

Fifty four senators voted for the legislation negotiated by senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. — not enough to reach the 60 votes that Senate rules require to avoid a filibuster.

Of Florida’s two senators, the No-vote shame goes to Marco Rubio. He and his NRA-loving cohorts refuse to acknowledge that background checks have kept weapons away from criminals.

Talking out of both sides of his mouth, Rubio keeps saying it’s the culture of violence that must be changed, not laws on gun ownership. And in at least one interview, he boasted of his intention of voting against the gun-control bill, although he had not read the whole thing.

Vintage Rubio: a mix of exaggerating a small truth enough to make it a lie, ideological fixations, and spin.

What are we going to do if not make it harder to get guns into the hands of the wrong people? Legislate against Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney World?

For too long, this country has suffered from being too short on memory. There’s a culture of showing strength and moving on, beating adversity by forgetting and starting over with the prospect of a new day.

We have a short memory except when it comes to fear-mongering. Then we’re all about using the history of two and half centuries ago to claim the Constitution, and as letter writers often like to croak to me, defend “my Second Amendment rights!”

The cowardly senators who quashed the effort to send a message to this country that gun violence will not be tolerated are counting on that.

But I hope the gun control fight is just beginning.

No matter how oblivious the Senate is to public opinion — no matter how much they try to separate the discussion about guns from the massacre in Newtown — we will not let them forget.

There was a USA before Newtown — and there is one after.

Read more Fabiola Santiago stories from the Miami Herald

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