Sixteen Republicans take a step to the left...for now.
On Thursday, the Senate voted to begin debate on gun-control. The vote marked the first time gun legislation will be argued in the upper chamber since the 1990's. The final vote to begin debate was 68 to 31, with 16 Republicans crossing the isle to allow arguments to proceed. There were some surprising names in the list of “yea” votes, like Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia. All three senators have an “A” or “A+” rating from the NRA.
Just the fact that a debate has been allowed is historic, after years of Republicans blocking any and all discussion on gun control, the vote is far from a guarantee that new legislation will make it to the President's desk. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “the hard work starts now.” Senators fighting to enact commonsense gun laws still have to overcome a vote to end debate, and face a vote on the actual proposed legislation.
Families of the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting have been pushing lawmakers all week to allow a vote on gun-control, and their efforts were monumental in getting many republicans to stand with democrats in Thursday's vote. There is still a long way to go before commonsense gun legislation becomes law, but it appears that the 20 children of Newtown, the others that died with them, and the more than 3,000 victims of gun violence since may all finally get the vote they deserve.