The Brady Campaign has a new effort to move the issue of gun violence prevention out of the impossible to the possible. We are better than this. Of course we are. We aren't the kind of country that turns it's back on a major public health and safety crisis are we? We support efforts to make things better after other national tragedies, don't we? Other civilized countries have found a way to reduce and prevent incidents of mass shootings and your average every day shootings. But the U.S. is different. We allow the carnage. Why? Three letters- N.R.A. This has to stop.
Finally we have had one mass shooting too many. What took so long for us to realize it? How many did it take? Many are now saying that publicly-some of them from unexpected quarters. Let's just look at who is has been brave enough to ignore the extremist NRA. First and most important is President Obama who finally said the right thing:
Thank you Mr. President. The NRA's extremist leadership hates President Obama. But the NRA's own members happen to agree with him. I wrote about that support in my last post.Closing out a multiday trip that began in Aurora, Colorado, where he met with families and victims of the movie theater massacre there, Obama told a mostly African-American audience that such tragedies are replayed on a smaller scale in cities throughout the country on a daily basis."Every day and a half the number of young people we lose to violence is about the same as the number of people we lost in that movie theater," Obama said in remarks to the National Urban League, a group that works to promote civil rights and economic improvement for African-Americans."I'm going to continue to work with members of both parties and with religious groups and with civic organizations to arrive at a consensus around violence reduction."Discussing or even touching on the issue of gun control during an election year is risky, and Obama has been careful to avoid making proposals that could offend gun owners and rally his Republican opponents.The president made a point of emphasizing his support for the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment, which covers the right to bear arms."We recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation, that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage," Obama said."But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals. That they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities."
Next, is the unlikely FOX news show host Bill O'Reilly. He actually tried to support reasonable gun laws while still saying he doesn't support them. Whatever. But he said it nonetheless. From the linked article:
Hypocrisy. But did O'Reilly accidentally speak truth to power? Michael Moore, movie producer and director, has some passionate feelings which were expressed both in a piece for Huffington Post and on CNN's Piers Morgan program:"Only Bill O'Reilly could give an example of how effective a law is while claiming its ineffective," O'Donnell said. "New York City cops seizing four thousand guns that violate New York laws is an example of gun laws working. It's an example of taking guns out of the hands of people who are not legally allowed to have those guns."O'Donnell later highlighted O'Reilly's heated clash over his proposed gun control law with GOP congressman Jason Chaffetz. O'Donnell said that Bill O'Reilly proposed a gun reform law "two sentences after accusing the far-left of trying to propose gun control."O'Donnell said that O'Reilly knew exactly what he was doing. "He's a master manipulator of his audience," O'Donnell said. "O'Reilly thinks the NRA position of unlimited guns and amunition is unreasonable, but in order to present O'Reilly's gun control to his right-wing audience, he has to, first of all, talk about 'far-left loons,' so O'Reilly can then sneak his little gun control idea into his show without sounding like like a 'far-left loon' to the far-right loons who watch his show."
Here's the video clip of the show."If people would just rise up and say 'Dammit, this is not the America I'm going to live in. This is too great of a country to let this happen again. I am not going to let this happen again.' And I am not going to come on another one of these damn TV shows either, after the next one of these shootings, Piers," he declares. "I'm sick of this. I refuse it. I refuse to live in a country like this, as I said before, and, I'm not leaving. So therefore, what am I going to do? It's got to change."
Thank you Michael Moore. We need to change the kind of country we have become. We are better than this. We can change it. If we show that we care about each other, we won't let this happen again.Thanks also to Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne for writing this latest column about surrendering to the NRA in the face of carnage.
If mass shootings are the status quo, what kind of country have we become? Yes, we have been taken hostage by the NRA's power and uber influence over an issue that should not be political at all. Our minds have been altered by the NRA's poisonous control over our country. We are talking about human life here. We are talking about people dying every day senselessly. If this isn't enough to move us to action, what is? The media talking heads have been taken hostage. Our politicians have been taken hostage. We should be frightened and concerned about this. Are we?Talk about power: The gun lobby barely had to say a word before the media sent advocates of saner gun regulation shuffling off in defeat.In a political version of Stockholm syndrome, even those who claim to disagree with the National Rifle Association’s absolutist permissiveness on firearms lulled themselves into accepting the status quo by reciting a script of gutless resignation dictated by the merchants of death.It’s a script built on half-truths and myths. For example, polls showing declining support for gun control in the abstract were widely cited, while polls showing broad backing for carefully tailored laws were largely ignored.
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist, also weighed in with his article on gun safety measures.
Indeed. We regulate dog poop. We regulate French cheeses. We regulate toy guns. We regulate baby cribs. We regulate pet food. We regulate just about everything- except the one that actually is designed to kill- guns.David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health has written an excellent book about public health approaches to firearms. But he argues that we need changes not just in laws but also in social mores — just as we’ve stigmatized drunken driving. Not to mention other kinds of irresponsibility.“Where I see social norms changing is dog poop,” Hemenway said in an interview. “You’re not allowed to let your city dog run loose now, and you have to pick up your dog poop.” He muses: What if people felt as responsible for their guns as for their dogs? For starters, one result might be more people buying gun safes or trigger locks.The bottom line is that to promote public health and safety, we regulate everything from theater fire exits to toy guns (that’s why they have orange tips). And if we impose rules on toy guns to make them safer, shouldn’t we do the same with real ones?
In which line will you stand? Let those who agree with the NRA line up and try to explain why they are in favor of allowing people to order 6000 rounds of ammunition from the Internet and use some of those bullets to kill 12 innocent people. Let them explain why assault type weapons should be available for civilian use. Let them explain why people who should be prohibited from buying guns are allowed to buy them anyway. Let them look the victims' families in the face and tell them they are going to do nothing.
If we are not better than this, there is no hope for our country. Common sense should prevail. The NRA is not a relevant organization any more. From this Washington Post article:
We have been co-opted by an angry bunch of extremists who don't even represent their members. They are willing to hype up fear and paranoia and take money from unwitting members to further their own agenda of propping up an industry that makes weapons designed to kill people. But to support any measure that would stop those killing weapons from killing- not so much. Shame on them. We can do better than this and we will. Move over Wayne LaPierre. Get out of the way. The "guys with the guns" should not be allowed to make the rules any more. Your million dollar salary can't be justified given the hundreds of thousands of people who are shot every year in America.A study of the 1994 elections found a two-point boost for Republican challengers from the NRA’s endorsement, but no effect for Republican incumbents or Democrats. The same study found no effect at all in 1996. So while the NRA was a factor in 1994, it was not decisive.CAP’s Paul Waldman came to the same conclusion looking at election results from 2004 to 2010 — that Republican challengers endorsed by the NRA did two points better than Republican challengers not endorsed by the NRA. The endorsement had no effect for incumbent Republicans or any Democrats.Most candidates endorsed by the NRA win reelection; but most candidates endorsed by the group are safe Republicans in safe Republican seats.Conventional wisdom has it that NRA members could be mobilized to vote against any politician who backs gun control.But Republican pollster Frank Luntz is out with a new survey suggesting that the reforms being discussed lately are fine with most NRA members.Luntz, working on behalf of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, found that large majorities of NRA members support background checks for all gun purchases, gun safety training for concealed-carry permits and the denial of permits for people with records of violent misdemeanors.Of course, the NRA doesn’t just have members; it has money. But while the group spends many millions every cycle, it spreads that money around.
Americans are speaking. They don't want any more of these pictures of horror on their T.V. screens. They don't want any more of their relatives and friends getting shot. They don't want our elected leaders to shrink in the face of out sized political power and influence. They don't want politicians to say nothing. They want action. We can do better. Americans know that our country is better than this.
UPDATE: July 27
There are just enough crazed gun rights advocates in the U.S. to be able to predict something like what a man in Maryland did after the Aurora shootings. This is why there should be no excuses for the extreme positions taken by people like this:
One week after Colorado's movie theater shooting, Maryland cops arrested a heavily armed man who told his employer he was a "joker" who was going to "blow everybody up."Police said today they believe they "thwarted a massacre."The suspect, identified as Neil Edwin Prescott in a court document obtained by ABC News, was being dismissed from his job. He made threatening statements to his supervisor at least twice on Monday, police said.Prescott had an arsenal of about 25 firearms at his residence, including semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and handguns, according to a police affidavit. Police said he also had high powered scopes and magazines and thousands of rounds of ammunition in "40 large steel boxes."He was quoted as telling his employer, "I am a joker, I'm going to load my guns and blow everybody up," police said."It is clear that the comments made by Prescott reference a recent mass murder which occurred in Colorado within the last several days in which the alleged shooter called himself the Joker, died [sic] his hair red and shot up a movie theater containing men, women and children and showing the 'The Dark Night Rises,'" according to the court document."Prescott also stated that he would like to see the supervisor's brain splatter all over the sidewalk," the document said.Prescott allegedly acknowledged to his employer that he should not be making these statements over the phone, saying, "It's kind of foolish of me to say this kind of things [sic] over government phone."These are the kind of (presumably) "law abiding" citizens who are living in our country ready for an insurrection or a mass shooting. We are better than this, certainly. This is why assault type weapons and large amounts of ammunition should be regulated in some way. The exception to the rule, like this guy, is the reason we need to pass better gun laws in our country. One exception- one excuse- could result in the next mass shooting. These weapons and ammunition are meant for something sinister. Why else would they be necessary?