Following up on last night's coverage, President Obama delivered a fiery address in Hartford late yesterday afternoon, making the case for his proposals to reduce gun violence. Referencing congressional skeptics, the president said, "If they're not part of the 90 percent of Americans who agree on background checks, then ask them, why not? Why wouldn't you want to make it easier for law enforcement to do their job? Why wouldn't you want to make it harder for a dangerous person to get his or her hands on a gun? What's more important to you: our children, or an A-grade from the gun lobby?"
The assembled crowd, featuring many families who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, chanted more than once, "We want a vote."
Congressional Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), aren't inclined to give them one.
As Obama was speaking -- and the crowd was chanting, "we want a vote" -- the Senate's top Republican announced he would join a GOP filibuster of gun control legislation and oppose allowing a Democratic gun control bill to come to the Senate floor for debate.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did leave the door open to allowing a gun control compromise bill to come to the floor, but his office said in a statement that he will oppose the version of the legislation that Reid outlined before the Senate's just-concluded two week recess.
McConnell had two weeks to make this announcement about his intentions. That he waited until the president was speaking in Connecticut to victims' families wasn't that subtle a move: the Republican leader apparently wanted to make a statement and rub some salt on the wound.
Remember, as we discussed yesterday, the filibuster being discussed isn't just about final passage of a gun-safety bill; Republicans are prepared to block the motion to proceed. In other words, GOP senators are opposed to any effort to change any gun law in any way, but they're also prepared to block a debate and all discussion of possible amendments.
And how many Republicans are we talking about here? It started two weeks ago today with a right-wing trio -- Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah -- and has since grown to 15 senators.
Even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked over the weekend, "What are we afraid of?" The answer, it appears, is that republicans are afraid of a debate they may lose, in which they ignore the will of the public and take orders from fringe extremists.
For his part, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) chastised GOP obstructionism on the Senate floor yesterday. "Shame on them," Reid said.