The National Rifle Association leadership suffered a major defeat in the U.S. Senate today, losing a key vote on a bill that would have radically weakened rules governing the concealed carrying of firearms around the country.
Gun violence prevention advocates across America worked day and night contacting their Senators, convincing them to defeat the gun lobby's dangerous proposal. Today, all their hard work paid off as Senators voted to protect American communities and reject gun lobby threats.
One point of interest is the fact that three targets of strong NRA attacks in the 2008 elections for U.S. Senate, who went on to win their elections anyway, were part of a group that made the difference today in helping keep our communities safe.
Last November, these three individuals were all rated 'F' by the NRA. The NRA went on to spend more than a combined $600,000 to defeat them and elect their opponents. What's more, the NRA's preferred candidates in each of these three races were incumbents, and all three incumbents were defeated.
What good did the NRA's money and endorsements do for former Senator Norm Coleman, former Senator John Sununu and former Senator Gordon Smith? Not enough to return them to the Senate. Voters in those states rejected the gun lobby's attacks last November and voted for their opponents.
Today, while gun violence survivors and victims' families, law enforcement, and the American public can express their gratitude for the leadership of Senators Richard Durbin of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein of California, Charles Schumer of New York and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, there are others to thank for today's win.
Victims of gun violence can also thank the people of Minnesota for electing Senator Al Franken, the people of New Hampshire for electing Senator Jeanne Shaheen, and the people of Oregon for electing Senator Jeff Merkley.
Today's vote is proof that hard work, and elections, have real-life consequences that can help save lives. The NRA's diminished clout at the ballot box is now translating into diminished clout on the Hill.
After today's victory, I am hopeful that our Congress will begin to address proactive measures to reduce gun violence in this country by doing things like requiring background checks for all gun sales, particularly at gun shows.
We've heard a lot about gun rights so far in this Congress. Now is the time to talk about gun responsibilities.