GUN CONTROL IN LIMBO

For years I wrote commentaries on the travesties of inadequate gun control, especially after each massive tragedy like Sandy Hook, Columbine and Newtown that killed so many school children. I always noticed the National Rifle Association went underground and out of sight until the national response of shock and disgust subsided. Then the NRA came on strong with its varied forms of justification for Americans to be armed to the teeth with 300 million weapons in civilian hands to protect themselves.

I finally decided it was a losing issue to discuss gun control while the NRA had so much clout over Congress and any agency that might impose rules. Was it from lobbying, or must I realize many of the conservative legislators and bureaucrats are gun owners and oppose any controls?

What a surprise that three days after the Las Vegas slaughter the NRA actually took a position on the device called bump stock that converts a semi-automatic weapon to a fully automatic like the one used in Las Vegas. It should not be openly available, with or without back ground checks of the purchaser, the NRA agrees. Gunslingers vehemently oppose back ground checks as a violation of their citizens’ rights, guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment.

Equally surprising was the lukewarm response from Republican leaders. Senator Ted Cruz said, “It is too soon to discuss legislation” until we have the facts and understand the situation. Can’t he understand 58 people died and over 500 were injured?

Even worse was the response from the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It is “completely inappropriate to publicize an event like this,” he told reporters then refused to answer questions. With leaders like this, how can any action be taken?

Even House Speaker Paul Ryan said lawmakers will “consider” legislation and President Trump wants to be part of a “conversation” about bump stock restrictions. It looks like Congress lead by Republicans will probably kick the gun control can down the road, as usual. It makes you wonder whose payroll they are on.

A panel of top journalists appearing on the KPBS show “Washington Week” were in agreement that even the worst mass killing in American history will have little impact on gun control regulations. The Gun Czars will continue to use the 2nd Amendment to block any effort to restrict use of military weapons for everyday civilian use. For what? These weapons are used only to kill people, not pheasants, deer or other wildlife, the reason that many NRA members use guns.

Then there is the issue of self-defense. Citizens who fear for their lives don’t tote around a semi-automatic rifle. The original concept of the 2nd Amendment was intended to allow citizens a weapon for hunting and defense from wildlife on the frontier. Specifically, it says to form “a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state.”

In colonial days the rifle was mounted over the fireplace ready for an emergency. In the Old West days, pistols were worn for personal defense, and rifles were used against marauding Indians and outlaws. We do not deal with these purposes today except the outlaw threat.

Today the NRA wants us to believe that possession of weapons is a citizen’s right against tyranny by the government and for self-protection. I believe the ballot box is a better defense against tyranny and the police for protection.