Shame on U.S. Sen. Dan Coats for voting against the improved public safety that expanding background checks prior to gun sales would bring.
The Manchin-Toomey amendment would have required background checks for Internet sales and for sales at gun shows like the ones held at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point. Sales to family and friends would continue to be exempt.
Polls have shown overwhelming support for expanding background checks. More than 8 in 10 Americans support background checks for buyers at gun shows, according a an AP-Gfk poll in January.
A similar percentage of Americans support preventing people who are mentally ill from buying a gun, according to the Pew Research Center.
Yet this background check legislation failed to get the necessary 60 votes.
Coats also voted against Sen. Diane Feinstein's measure to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, even though Coats voted for the ban when it was put in place in 1994.
Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois was the only Republican to vote for the ban this time.
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona blasted her colleagues with both barrels, figuratively, in a New York Times op-ed for supporting the NRA but not constituents.
"To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way," Giffords wrote. Exactly.
The gun lobby is powerful. The NRA spends money freely in campaigns. Senators who voted against this legislation by moderates apparently fear the NRA's political muscle more than they respect their constituents' wishes.
The focus lately has been on mass shootings like the one in Newtown, Conn., and for good reason. Do a web search for school shootings if you want to be shocked. The list is long.
The easiest time to disarm a shooter in one of these situations is when he or she is reloading. But the Senate also refused to approve a ban on sales of high-capacity magazines.
It is distressing that the victims of Newtown, and of the attack that wounded Giffords, and of the many other shootings around the nation every day were ignored. The Senate did nothing to assure the families of these victims that their deaths or their wounds were not in vain.
Coats is supposed to represent Hoosiers, not the gun lobby. He should be ashamed of his votes Wednesday.