Can Congress walk and chew gum?

Are leaders in Congress unable to walk and chew gum at the same time? That is, are they capable of multitasking on major issues?

Some are speculating they are not. Recall that just a few weeks ago, in the wake of more mass murders, lawmakers vowed to debate steps to reduce the likelihood of such tragedies in the future. New limits on gun ownership, perhaps through “red flag” laws aimed at people deemed to be threats to public safety, were suggested. The White House weighed in, with President Trump suggesting such a discussion may be appropriate.

Then came Ukrainegate, or whatever we’re calling the current move to impeach Trump.

Suddenly, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow Democratic leaders were focused, seemingly exclusively, on their impeachment inquiry. On Capitol Hill, virtually nothing has been said about gun control for some time.

The issue is a divisive one, of course. Americans worried about keeping the Second Amendment untarnished may be pleased that the focus of attention has shifted.

But millions of Americans on all sides of the gun control controversy are perfectly capable of thinking about it at the same time they worry about other issues (including, of course, making a living).

Candidates for president, understanding that voters have any number of priorities, have not been hesitant to keep talking about gun control. But in Congress, the debate seems to have been suspended.

With many members of both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate up for re-election next year, one wonders how many of them were disappointed that they do not have to take stands on firearms legislation. They know that, regardless of where they come down on the issue, they will alienate some voters.

Surely members of Congress are capable of dealing with two controversies at once. They shouldn’t let the impeachment hearings distract them from talking about what, if anything, Congress can do about mass murders.

By Patricia Older

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