"The Good Fight, part three"
The following day Sam Seaborn met with Senator John McCain of Arizona and with little difficulty convinced the Commerce committee chairman to drop the amendment his committee had been considering offering to the Senate floor. With this accomplished, the trade bill would now pass with little difficulty, probably ten or fifteen votes over the required majority. Sam immediately phoned Leo with the news.
As soon as he arrived in the West Wing, Sam had his assistant Carol call President Bartlet’s personal secretary Mrs. Landingham to arrange a few minutes for him in the Oval Office. Luckily for the acting-Communications Director, the President had about five free minutes for him in a half hour. Seaborn took advantage of the free time by stopping by Josh’s office and taking backup with him to face off with the commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful military. Sam still didn’t like his chances.
The two arrived in Mrs. Landingham’s office a few minutes early and sat down across from her desk. She noticed their somber expressions and offered them both cookies, which they gratefully accepted. Shortly later Treasury Secretary Ken Kato exited the Oval Office nodding towards them as he left, and Bartlet waved the two in. Sam and Josh both took a breath and went in.
Not unmindful of the Presidential seal in the center of the carpet, or the armed guard outside the door, Lyman and Seaborn proceeded with caution. Josh first broached the subject. "Mr. President," he began, "seeing as how the trade bill is now likely to pass with some 60 to 65 votes in the Senate, Sam and I were, well, we though…"
Sam finished where Josh’s rambling left off. "We were thinking that perhaps the White House could now re-concentrate its efforts on House proposal 456."
Bartlet hesitated and spoke in a low voice, "The gun control bill." Sam and Josh both responded in the affirmative. "I thought that we had reached an understanding that this bill would be dealt with in a few months." He chuckled inwardly but showed no external signs as he said, "but I guess I was wrong. Sam, Josh, I’m sorry. It’s just not going to happen. No one is more upset by this than me. I promise you that when we deal with this again, we will fully avail ourselves of all opportunities and the fact that these Congressmen in question probably want to actually receive some votes in November. But for right now, it’s not going to happen."
Josh and Sam left the Oval Office feeling more helpless than when they arrived. For his part, President Bartlet sat down on the couch in his office and stared at the seal in the center of his carpet.
In the White House pressroom, C.J. was just beginning her afternoon briefing. She told the reporters that the trade bill was scheduled to arrive at the Senate floor on Monday, where the President was hopeful it would pass. She proceeded to begin describing the details of said trade bill when suddenly President Bartlet entered the room. All stood. As he arrived at the podium, he smiled at C.J. and indicated for her to step aside. He told the press to please sit. Then he began, "Three and a half weeks ago, I suffered one of the worst experiences of my life. Only a few feet away from me, my Communications Director and personal friend, Toby Ziegler was shot and killed in cold blood, and my Chief-of-Staff, Leo McGarry was seriously wounded. A Secret Service agent was also killed in the incident and an innocent bystander was seriously wounded. Some would say that this prevents me from being impartial on the issue of gun control. Good. No one should be impartial on this most critical issue. Every year thousands of American citizens are killed, victims of preventable gun violence. I’m not just talking about adults, but also school children, shooting each other en masse. It must stop. And it would have stopped, if not for the NRA and those who follow the same banner, in the name of the Second Amendment. Let me tell you this, I am a well-educated man, and a Nobel Prize winner, not to mention the President of the United States, and I can tell you that our founding fathers did not envision assault rifles and grenade launchers when they wrote that provision. They could not imagine the destruction that would come from the minds of their descendants. Well, I am here to tell the NRA and any Congressman who might oppose what we are trying to do; your day of terror has come to an end. It is time to form a new, safer America. God bless you, and God bless America."
The press began to leap to their feet as the President concluded his monumental announcement and C.J. stood in shock, as did Josh, Toby, and Leo who had been watching the briefing on television monitors.
That moment sparked a movement in America. For whatever reason Bartlet decided to give the speech, it had an enormous impact. Due to the mammoth public support now in existence, the House passed the gun control amendment by a large margin and the United States Senate confirmed it 53-47. In November, the Democrats gained control of Congress, and in 2002, President Bartlet was re-elected with sixty percent of the vote. Sam Seaborn was named the permanent Communications Director, and Toby was never forgotten.