I have four lovely granddaughters ranging from 4 to 8 years old, I nearly lost one son in a car accident years ago, and another son wrote many articles for Newsweek about school shootings. That’s the context for how heartsick I am about the Connecticut shootings. I’m also sick to my stomach over political leaders who’ve shown zero leadership on passing minimal sensible gun-management laws. Laws governing toys and cars are more stringent.
There will be the familiar cries of politicizing this issue in the wake of tragedy yet I agree with The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein. He says conservatives’ “calls for silence” is politicization in and of itself, to protect their political construct and keep the status quo (loose gun laws), knowing that given time, the tragedy will recede.
This has nothing to do with the millions of wonderful hunters and sportsmen or those who have a gun in their home to protect themselves. By and large this group is responsible. National Rifle Association (NRA) leadership is another story.
Republicans are brazen about this issue. Until Friday, Democrats’ (including the presidents’) silence on guns has equaled complicity, even while America’s mayors and police departments outside the Washington bubble constantly make noise for better gun management.
Help me understand this:
· On September 11, 2001, nearly 3000 Americans were killed in terrorist attacks and our politicians started two wars and spent 6000 lives (50,000 wounded) and trillions of tax-payer dollars
· Every year, 11,000 Americans are killed in gun-related homicides and our politicians are silent
Nor do I understand this:
People kill people. Guns don’t kill people.
It’s what opponents of minimal gun management measures always say. The old saw is that murder sprees are caused by crazy people. Indeed, mentally ill people commit most mass murders … and they’re aided by the most efficient machine ever invented to express hate, a gun.
Psychopaths sure do use knives, too … and they’re much less efficient. Ironically, in Japan on the same day as the Newtown shooting, a man attacked a school with a knife because he couldn’t get a gun. He injured 22 people, and no one was killed.
Moreover, we aren’t the only country with mentally ill citizens. But we are the only large advanced country littered with guns and bereft of adequate laws to regulate them. The result? The average industrialized country experiences a per capita rate of gun violence that’s 4-5 times less than America’s.
But, the demographic times, as Bob Dylan might say, they are a-changin’.
Till now, the guns issue has been a political winner for Republicans. They could scare voters, 40 percent of whom own guns, into thinking that sensible gun management laws would really do nothing less than pry away their guns. Rural, white, male voters (assisted by NRA leadership) overwhelmingly supported pro-gun candidates who generally won in the past. All that changed in November.
Candidates supported by the NRA, which targets tight races against vocal pro-gun management candidates, lost six of seven races. As rural, white males decline as a percentage of the electorate, the Republicans are, at their peril, polishing their extremist brand that’s already perceived by a chunk of the electorate as anti-women, anti-science (on climate change), pro-polluter, anti-immigrant, and anti-African American (new poll tax laws).
Republicans will also be known as pro-murder as long as they oppose sensible, safe gun-management regulation.
The day before the Newtown shootings, Lindsay Graham and John McCain said nothing was wrong with the status quo on gun regulation. How could someone brave out what McCain did in Vietnam yet turn so cowardly in the face of the NRA? Until Newtown, virtually all Republicans and most Democrats cowered at the thought of discussing this issue. Harsh as it is to say, I believe our politicians have blood on their hands as this death toll marches on—32 people die of homicidal gunshot wounds every day.
New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Piers Morgan, and Bob Costas are three courageous people who brave criticism and speak about this white elephant in the front room while everyone else pretends it isn’t there. I’m sorry to say that I supported the Brady Center for the Prevention of Gun Violence for many years only to stop 8 years ago because the NRA kept winning on every issue and progress seemed hopeless. Newtown moved me back into action.
I’m writing checks totally $10,000 from the Gegax Family Foundation to various gun management non-profits. I encourage you to: a) send what you can as well; b) call or write to your representatives and demand action; and c) tell anyone you can how you feel. Do not remain silent. Speak up to honor the 11,000 Americans killed by guns each year and for the 20 Newtown first and second graders.
When you do, keep in mind the Big Four Commonsense Measures that the NRA opposes despite the fact that they wouldn’t affect hunters, sportsmen, and responsible adults who keep guns in their homes for protection.
Partially from The Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence website:
Assault/ Semi-automatic/ High Clip Capacity Weapons
Assault weapons possess features specifically designed by the world’s militaries to make it easier for the shooter to fire sustained, high-volume rounds into a wide area. America’s weak gun lawsallowed these weapons to enter the civilian marketplace and criminals quickly learned how to exploit their military features. Early estimates are that the Connecticut shooter was able to fire over a hundred rounds in two minutes at women and children. Congress let the ten-year assault rifle ban expire in 2004.
Gun Show Loophole
The Gun Show Loophole allows criminals and others prohibited from gun ownership to buy guns from unlicensed dealers at shows without undergoing background checks. It is estimated that 40 percent of all guns are purchased this way. What good are background checks at licensed dealers if the bad guys know they can go to a show to avoid a background check?
Microstamping is a technology that stamps the serial number of a gun onto expended cartridge cases recovered at a crime scene. It is an invaluable tool for solving gun-related crimes. Why make it harder for our hard working law enforcement officers to do their job?
Concerns about Concealed Carry
The NRA claims that concealed carry permit holders are the most law-abiding citizens in America. This may be true in many cases but it’s apparent that the screening process in most states does little or nothing to stop dangerous individuals from obtaining permits to carry concealed handguns.