President Obama drew a line in the sand this week when he unveiled his policies to take on gun violence.
The most ambitious of those plans–reinstating and strengthening the assault weapons ban–is going to require congressional support if it is to become a reality. And given the resistance the president faced from House Republicans during the fiscal cliff showdown, nobody’s expecting that support to come easily.
Only, so far, some of the most vocal resistance isn’t coming from Republicans in the House. It’s from the number-one Democrat in the Senate.
Maybe he just needs some encouragement, so in this week’s open letter, I’m going to give it to him.
Dear Sen.r Harry Reid:
It’s me, Melissa.
I’d like to draw your attention to one word in your Senate title that it seems you have forgotten. You are the Senate majority leader–the operative word being “leader.”
That title represents a vote of confidence in your ability to forge a path on legislation that is right for the country, even when–especially when–what is right is not necessarily what is easy. Yet there you were, the week before the president released his proposals to address gun violence–throwing in the towel before the fight had even begun.
Yes, senator, we must be thoughtful and deliberate in our policy response to the tragedy in Newtown. But we must also be bold and take action when the time is right. And that time is now. Right now, the people are ready for change. Fifty-eight percent of adults and 59% of registered voters now support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons.
At what other time will the confluence of public passion and political will give us the opportunity to make meaningful change on the issue of gun violence? It is up to you, a leader of leaders, to seize this moment and make it matter.
In other words, senator, with all due respect–please grow a pair. Of ovaries. Maybe that’ll help you woman up and be more like your colleague, Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
She–like you–sees the challenges waiting ahead in the House. But unlike you, she possesses the courage of her convictions. Instead of retreating from the fight, she’s charging ahead with a pledge to introduce legislation to reinstate the assault weapons ban. Because she knows what you seem to have forgotten, that quote: “You have to try, you can’t sit back and just let the gun organizations call public policy.” Even when those gun organizations are your friends.
That’s right, senator–we saw you in 2010, buddying up to NRA leader Wayne LaPierre at the opening of a new gun park in Nevada. You even fired off a few shots to celebrate the occasion. In fact, in the past you’ve been so supportive of the NRA’s agenda they’ve awarded you a “B” grade on their legislative report card. And Wayne LaPierre hailed you as “a true champion of the Second Amendment.”
I get it, Sen. Reid. You love your guns. And you really love the NRA’s ability to help you get re-elected. But now your country needs you to be a champion for a higher cause. Because maybe you’re right, and the assault weapons ban will not survive the House.
But in this moment, in the U.S. Senate, let history record that Harry Reid took a stand. And when the people were ready and willing to follow, Harry Reid led.