Now that he’s back in the Senate, after spending a year recovering from his stroke, Mark Kirk is turning out to be every liberal’s dream Republican.
The latest example is Wednesday’s vote on the bill to expand background checks for gun purchasers. Kirk was one of four Republicans to vote against a filibuster, along with Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, the conservative who helped write what was supposed to be a bipartisan agreement, but turned out to be a mostly party-line vote.
Before the vote, Kirk met with parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn. After the vote, he released this statement, which included a warning to members of his own party:
“I am disappointed that the Senate could not come together to support a bipartisan proposal that would reduce gun violence and protect law-abiding gun owners, but American voters are the ultimate judge of today’s result.”
Representing the most murderous city in the U.S. played a role in Kirk’s vote. He decided to support to the bill after meeting with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who told him 40 percent of the guns seized in crimes are purchased without a background check.
"Drug gangs like the Gangster Disciples exploit the loopholes in our current system, and they commit senseless acts of violence leading to the death of innocent people, like 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, shot and killed in gang crossfire," Kirk wrote in an e-mail.
One reason I voted for Kirk in 2010 was that I thought he would be more independent of his party than his opponent, Alexi Giannoulias. He has not disappointed me. It’s more useful having a liberal in the Republican caucus than having another Democrat voting with Obama 100 percent of the time, which is what Giannoulias would have been.
Now that President Obama and newspaper editorial writers are condemning Republicans for refusing to defy the National Rifle Association, I want a bumper sticker that says, “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For Senator Kirk.”