Yesterday, our nation saw yet another in what seems to be a worsening and never-ending string of school shootings. This one took the life of a friend’s daughter, but the truth is that in every such incident families in each community tragically and unnecessarily suffer profound loss. The worst is the loss of life, especially children. Survivors also contend with loss. There are physical, psychological, and emotional impacts that could last a lifetime. Statistics really do not matter because even one such incident is entirely unacceptable. However, by way of illustration, we have had over 20 mass shootings since 1999, 15 since 2007, five of the worst in the last few years, and 18 incidents in the last 45 days alone. Just think about that and how ridiculous it is that society accepts it.
We are not always able to learn the exact cause. It is safe to say that these shooters have mental health problems, at least some form of sociopathy to commit such a heinous act. However, it is overly simplistic to write this of as a mental health problem. It is first and foremost a gun safety problem. People with mental health problems are just part of it. The reason for the shooting is less of an issue if we could only begin to address ways to prevent them. Nothing is perfect or 100% foolproof, but shouldn’t we try? If we can prevent even some of these senseless mass murders of children isn’t that enough? Is it too much of an imposition for law abiding citizens to wait briefly for a proper, effective background check to complete if it helps keep firearms away from dangerous people who pose a threat to our communities? I can’t believe we are asking these questions and I am incredulous there are otherwise decent people who demand instantaneous weapons purchases even at the expense of legitimate public safety.
After each incident, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and their Congressional mouthpieces, try to deflect the American people’s attention, claiming “now is not the time” to address these issues. Has enough time passed since Columbine? Has enough time passed since Sandy Hook? Has enough time passed since the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando or movie theater in Colorado? The time is past due for Congress to address gun violence and gun safety. For any members of the Senate or House too afraid to discuss these issues and allow a vote, it is time for you to leave government. It is reprehensible that our leaders have allowed shooting after shooting with no action whatsoever. These politicians would rather allow mass murder and ignore school safety rather than risk being unseated by the NRA. That type of extreme cowardice should be unacceptable to voters. Money and advertising play a big part of our elections. However, voters are not that likely in today’s world to allow the NRA to unseat a member simply because they voted for a reasonable gun safety measure. They may even get more votes for finally addressing some very popular measures. If it really costs them re-election, so be it. Do the right thing that we so desperately need you to do and leave a hero with a good conscience. Don’t sit there knowing the consequences of continued inaction.
The NRA provides millions of dollars to candidates and can provide significant support to primary opponents to those who defy them. Consequently, most Republicans and some Democrats in Congress will not even entertain the idea of gun reform. It is highly likely that the NRA will carry out the threat to unseat anyone who supports gun reform, even those measures with overwhelming support by the American people. There some good people in the NRA who privately do not oppose some of these measures. However, as an organization, the NRA leadership clearly demonstrates callous indifference to the thousands of dead children or the over 150,000 children who have been directly impacted by these shootings. They can help us stop, or a least lessen, these incidents. Unfortunately, the NRA would rather ignore an endless number of these incidents than support a single common-sense gun reform measure. In the past, the NRA was an important source of safety training and responsible gun ownership. However, because of their absolute extremism they are no longer a legitimate part of the discussion. They foolishly forfeit the ability to work in partnership with Congress and states to achieve reasonable, balanced approaches to gun violence. Such efforts would truly be in the best interests of its members. The NRA still does not care about that. They are now all about gun sales. Enjoy your blood money.
Here is a sample of the what the NRA not only opposes but will actively unseat any politician who does not completely oppose as well. There has been legislation pending to deny those on the “No-Fly List” from purchasing weapons, overwhelmingly popular among the American people. Apparently, the NRA would prefer terrorists to have weapons than to support any common-sense reform. Another bill addresses an improved background check system which has the support of 95% of the American people. Clearly, we need to improve the system, but the NRA would rather see more mass shootings than allow us to do so. 70% of Republicans support a ban on military grade assault weapons, but the NRA will not allow any debate. What about bump stocks? They oppose banning those, too. President Obama signed an Executive Order focused on limiting those with mental health problems from purchasing weapons. President Trump, at the behest of the NRA, instantly rescinded that order making it easier for those who should not possess weapons due to mental illness to amass weapons.
I support the 2d Amendment and respect responsible gun ownership. I enjoy going to the range to fire. None of the measures above violate the 2d Amendment or restrict the rights of responsible gun owners. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the conservative champion and adherent to strict constructionism/original intent theory, would not find these provisions violative of the Constitution. He wrote for the Court in the Heller decision that the 2d Amendment guarantees the right of citizens to own guns to protect their homes. Per Scalia and the Court, the government has the authority to enact reasonable safety controls, etc., consistent with this right to protect one’s home. Thus, while we can debate as a matter of policy whether to ban military grade weapons, bump sticks, et al, such measures do not violate the Constitution or anyone’s 2d Amendment rights. While there are fringe members of Congress on both sides, there has not been any real effort to threaten the 2d Amendment or take people’s guns away. That is NRA propaganda, the actual fake news, used to support their politicians and attack others. The problem is when gun owners do not support the inherent right of all people to live in safety. That is paramount and supersedes everything else. There should never be a day where children are afraid to go to school for fear of being shot in the hallways. Families should feel safe going to a movie without fear that the person behind them will pull out a weapon and shoot up the theater.
Here we are in 2018. Thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered in in mass shootings. The NRA and their puppets in Congress are cowards. They fear truth and honest debate. Politicians who literally allow the extremist NRA to run the country should be ashamed. In fact, they should be bounced from office. All voters should look at where their elected officials get their money and demand accountability. For example, the NRA has spent over 3.3 million dollars to buy Senator Marco Rubio. There are plenty of special interests out there and we should be weary of all of them. However, none exercises greater power than the NRA.
NRA – you now share responsibility for these shootings with those who pull the trigger. You support murder. Time to change or time to fade away. NRA members – You support an organization that condones the slaughter of children for its own political purposes. You can no longer rely upon the NRA’s positive programs involving safety and training and ignore their political extremism. You must choose. Any good work they did is entirely outweighed by the callous indifference to public safety and the American people’s demands for reasonable safety legislation. There are other organizations that provide safety training and advocate for gun rights. Stop supporting the NRA until it abandons its extremism that threatens our society. Every penny given, every membership filed, every bumper sticker on a car all contribute to this national crisis. If you support the NRA, even with just a membership, you are hurting the nation and putting our children at risk. American voters – Continue to demand change. Hold representatives accountable. Inform them that anyone who receives support from the NRA, especially those who advocate their extreme agenda, will lose their seat. The time is now.