CLAIM: Gun control legislation fails in the Senate because of “corruption.”
VERDICT: FALSE. Gun control fails because of passionate public support for the Second Amendement.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) claimed during the third Democrat debate at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, Thursday night (transcript via ABC News, emphasis added):
The question we need to ask is, when we’ve got this much support across the country, 90 percent of Americans want to see us do — I like registration — want to see us do background checks, want to get assault weapons off the streets, why doesn’t it happen? And the answer is corruption, pure and simple.
We have a Congress that is beholden to the gun industry. And unless we’re willing to address that head-on and roll back the filibuster, we’re not going to get anything done on guns.
Warren frequently blames “corruption” for all of Washington’s ills — by which she means that corporate interests are able to hire the best lobbyists and direct large amounts of campaign cash to politicians who support their positions.
But that is not the reason gun control fails.
Rather, the reason is that gun ownership is protected by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which specifically includes the phrase, “shall not be infringed.” There are few other features of American life that enjoy that kind of protection.
One way to think about the question is to compare the gun issue to the abortion issue. The vast majority of Americans oppose late-term abortion, yet Democrats persist in removing all restrictions on abortion, arguing that any regulation of abortion represents a threat to women’s health.
They consider abortion a fundamental right — and it does not even appear in the Constitution, certainly not with a warning that it “shall not be infringed.” That is a matter of passion, not corruption.
It is true that the public broadly supports many of the gun regulations that Democrats favor. It is equally true that few of these new rules can be shown convincingly to reduce gun violence or mass shootings.
Supporters of the Second Amendment fear, with good reason, that they would be giving up some of their rights in exchange for illusory improvements in public safety.
Moreover, the National Rifle Association, the main lobby group representing gun owners, is successful not because it controls large amounts of campaign cash — it does not donate directly and is not even in the top 20 sources of money — but because it represents some 5.5 million members, most of whom are well-informed about the issue.
Warren wants to eliminate the Senate filibuster to pass gun control, among other laws. Though the filibuster is not in the Constitution, it represents a check on the majoritarian impulses of the legislature — a danger that the Founders recognized, and held in check with the Bill of Rights.
The reason the Second Amendment exists is precisely because it is one of the rights that needs protection from a simple majority vote.
Opposition to infringing that right is not “corruption”; it is the Republic functioning more or less as intended.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.