Wednesday, December 2, 2015
If We Just Had Enough Guns, the World Would be Safe!
On average, there is one gun homicide in the United States every 16 minutes. On December 2nd, days after a multiple shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood facility, the United States had their own mini-Paris as two shooters, armed with assault rifles and handguns, killed 14 and wounded 21 innocents at a county facility in San Bernardino, California. It was the worst American mass slaying since Sandy Hook (3 years ago), and there have been a lot of mass shootings: according to the December 2nd Washington Post, 355 such incidents in 2015 alone. Conservatives sent “prayers” to the victims and their families, biting their tongues as gun control rhetoric filled the mass media worldwide. But the right wing’s position on gun control has already been well-set.
On December 3rd, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R –Wisc.) uttered a few words about tightening gun laws vis-à-vis the mentally ill but made it clear that little else would change in limiting access to guns, which he repeated is a basic and inalienable constitutional right (not exactly if you know how to read). The NRA stood silent. “One day after a mass shooting in California that killed 14 people and wounded 21, Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate jousted on [December 3rd] over gun control but again failed to advance legislation addressing the violence.
“Democrats tried to expand background checks to those purchasing weapons at gun shows and through intrastate Internet transactions. They also proposed closing a loophole allowing people on ‘terror watch lists’ to buy guns and explosives… Both efforts failed in the face of heavy Republican opposition.” AOL.com, December 3rd.
After those recent Paris attacks, GOP Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, parroted the NRA party line at a Texas rally: “"Isn't it interesting that the tragedy in Paris took place in one of the toughest gun control countries in the world?... You can say what you want, but if they had guns -- if our people had guns, if they were allowed to carry -- it would have been a much, much different situation." It the old NRA mantra that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Define “good guy”… or a “good guy with a bad temper.”
And if France had looser gun control laws, would they too have suffered the thousands and thousands of gun homicides that plague the United States? Would France have become a major source of illegal weapons being smuggled to heinous criminals across porous borders the way guns purchased legally at unregulated gun shows in the United States have over-armed drug cartels in Mexico and points south?
“When it comes to gun massacres, the United States is tragically exceptional: There are more public mass shootings in the United States than in any other country in the world, according to a new study…. While the U.S. has 5% of the world's population, it had 31% of all public mass shootings.”CNN.com, August 28th. But there are some courageous people pushing back against this NRA-protected culture of the innate “goodness of gun ownership.”
Today, I would like to honor the bold editors of the New York Daily News by reproducing one of most courageous front pages in history. Taking a strong stand against one of the most pernicious forces in the United States today: the National Rifle Association.
The Daily News was writing about this: “The NRA — and their gun-loving Republican cohorts — are refusing once more to stop terrorists intent on getting armed in the U.S.A.
“A legal loophole allows suspected terrorists on the government’s no-fly list to legally buy guns, but a bill to fix that will likely wither on the vine. The federal Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, even in the wake of [the recent] terrorist killing of 129 people in Paris, remains a long shot due to its rabid pro-gun opponents…
“The GAO reported that 91% of all suspected terrorists who tried to buy guns in America walked away with the weapon they wanted over the time period, with just 190 rejected despite their ominous histories.” Daily News, November 18th. Although there are a few GOP supporter and co-sponsors, this bill (proposed in 2007) has always faced strong NRA opposition and has never made it close to a floor vote.
The National Rifle Association is one of America’s most embarrassing organizations. They were fine when they pushed for gun education and gun safety. When they effectively became a lobby for American small arms manufacturers, passing laws restricting governmental agencies from tallying gun homicide statistics, toppling elected officials trying to stop serial and mass shootings with restrictions on who can buy guns, oversized magazines and assault weapons... they became the problem. They have supported statutes that encourage gun homicide – “stand your ground,” “home as castle,” etc. Their pernicious message is an enabler of hatred, arrogance and violence.
But most of the world looks at America’s love for guns, a set of statutes that prioritizes gun ownership over child safety (even the slaughter at Sandy Hook didn’t reverse this shameful trend), with absolute horror. Perhaps the sentiment of a French official at Trump’s assertions says it best: The French ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, tweeted at Trump: "This message is repugnant in its lack of any human decency. Vulture."
I’m Peter Dekom, and there is nothing in the United States Constitution that precludes any state or the federal government from reasonable comprehensive gun control legislation.