Although the U.S. Senate attempt to reduce gun danger ended in a fiasco, West Virginians can be proud of their two senators -- especially Joe Manchin, who moved past his pro-gun record and became a national leader for sensible safety rules. He stood tall.
The state Council of Churches voted to thank Manchin publicly in behalf of all West Virginia churchgoers for "reaching across the aisle in seeking some resolution on the issue of gun violence."
However, the final outcome was sad: Fifty Republican senators, plus four rural Democrats, proved Wednesday that they will do absolutely nothing to protect Americans from gun murders and massacres.
They showed that they care more for pistol-packers than for slaughtered first-graders.
They care more for the fringe owning mow-'em-down assault weapons and 30-shot magazines than they care about defenseless families.
West Virginia's Manchin had worked out a sensible compromise for near-universal background checks to keep murder instruments away from criminals and psychotics -- but minority Republicans threatened to block it with a filibuster, so the safeguard needed 60 votes to pass. It got only 54.
Every Democrat except four voted yes. Every Republican except four voted no. It was an ugly demonstration of what conservatives stand for.
President Obama was furious. Surrounded by families who lost children in the Connecticut school tragedy, he called it "a pretty shameful day for Washington."
Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who suffered a near-fatal bullet in the brain from a psychotic killer, wrote a bitter New York Times commentary titled "A Senate in the Gun Lobby's Grip." She said "a minority of senators gave in to fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms."
Giffords said Americans "overwhelmingly favor expanding background checks," but conservative senators caved in to "cowardice" and killed the protections. She concluded:
"Mark my words: If we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress, one that puts communities' interests ahead of the gun lobby's."
On national television just before the vote, Sen. Manchin denounced the National Rifle Association and other gun groups for spreading "lies and distortions" about background checks -- "all of this crazy nonsense by real zealots, real extremist groups." It's just "a bunch of lies," he said.
On Thursday, Manchin vowed to expose the NRA untruths, and to keep pushing for Senate passage of his bill. But many observers think Republicans in the House would kill it.
Conservatives showed that they simply don't care if criminals and psychotics have guns. They are unfit to govern a modern society, and deserve removal in the next election.