GUN CONTROL – A DEAD ISSUE
It’s the same story all over again. There is a rampage of mass murders. The public cries out in protest and public officials make speeches about gun control. A few weeks go by and nothing happens to curtail these awful killings of innocent people.
In the weeks following each massacre the National Rifle Association remains undercover until the public passion has cooled, then they can send their lobbyists out to quell any effort to have new regulations. This was the situation after the killing of those children at Sandy Hook, the attack on co-workers at the San Bernardino workplace and now a social club in Orlando Florida, among others.
Perhaps this recent slaughter has more media coverage urging Congress to improve gun control regulations. It won’t happen once the NRA and related gun-owner organizations and the weapon manufacturers get behind the defeat of any effort to control the sale or possession of guns. That’s what they do, and they’re very good at it.
Expect the advocates of unrestricted gun possession to begin writing checks to support campaign funds of public officials opposing gun control and an army of lobbyists to step-up their presence on Capitol Hill. The NRA is a powerful and resourceful political machine.
The Orlando massacre is the largest death and injury toll from one of these shoot-up incidents and the largest death toll from terrorism activity on US soil since 9/11. But will it motivate public officials to seriously address the problem? Both President Obama and Vice-President Biden attended a memorial service in Orlando with an impassioned call for better controls. It’s all well and good for our leaders to express their condolences and to call for reform, but it can’t be done. Why?
The gun interests have the power and backing of the U.S. Constitution to defend their support for unlimited gun ownership. That’s a tough adversary for the reform interests to overcome. Besides there are reportedly over 300 million guns currently in circulation in America. There is no legal way to legislate the abolition of assault weapons that are manufactured only to kill people.
Unfortunately, when the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights was enacted in the 18th century, automatic assault weapons did not exist. The right to bear arms meant a citizen could keep a rifle over the fireplace for protection of his home and family from marauding Indians and to be armed as a civilian militia in the event of rebellion or warfare. That was handy when the American colonists rose against British rule.
The intent to allow citizens to bear arms had a more specific purpose in its day but has evolved into an industry that attracts many unstable gun owners who are seeking revenge. That’s not what the Second Amendment intended.
Over the last week the news media was keeping the story hot in anticipation of Congressional action. Four Senate bills to legislate tighter controls on suspected terrorists from avoiding background checks were pending, two by Republican Senators. Similar bills had been defeated in prior sessions.
Nearly all the prominent columnists and news broadcasters took up the campaign for Congress to do something in the heat of the Orlando mass killing. The headline I liked the most was the editorial in the San Diego Union-Tribune – “Doing Nothing to Curb Gun Control is a Crime.”
Other comments from respected media sources include a New York Times editorial asking if there is anything less controversial than denying gun purchases to people on the terrorist watch list? Yet Republicans prefer to express concern about “due process” for gun purchasers. The newspaper noted that Congress is notoriously successful at protecting gun makers and dealers and keeping victimized families from being heard in court on wrongful death and damage claims.
Well, the big show down on Jun 20 crashed again without the necessary 60 votes for any of the four bills. What does that say to Americans who are fed-up with so many members of Congress representing the powerful gun lobbies, not their constituency? That’s because they know who butters their bread when reelection time comes around.
Here are the demographics of the Senate bills. The Murphey bill failed 44-56 and the Grassley bill failed 53-47; both would have extended background checks to sales at gun shows and on the internet. The Feinstein bill failed 47-53 attempting to prohibit sales of guns to individuals on the terrorism watch list.
I hope those opposing Senators are happy with their payoff and can feel comfortable knowing a suspected terrorist is able to openly buy assault weapons. The fourth defeated bill also attempted to deny sales to anyone on the no-fly list, potentially a danger to society. Will the Senators be happy to fly with them if the NRA says it’s OK?
The only way to move Congress on this gun control block is to elect new representatives that are committed to better legislation and publicly refuse to be supported by weapon groups and their lobbyists. Get thee to the polls.