Congress: Stop Praying And Act To Stop The Senseless Gun Violence.
The recent mass gun murders perpetrated in a Orlando Florida are starting to look like just another in a long series of tragedies which continue to plague this country due to a lack of political courage on the part of those elected to protect us from such horrendous acts. Platitudes are spewed bemoaning such occurrences, often expressing sympathy for the families of the victims and promising swift action to rectify the situation legislatively.
All too often, the messages of sympathy are voiced loudest by those politicians who have done the most in the past to ensure that absolutely nothing is done in Congress to stop future events of this nature from occurring. Fear of retribution from the NRA, the gun manufacturers and the rest of the lobbying groups for the merchants of death is used as an excuse to do nothing but hem and haw about preserving “Second Amendment Rights” over the rights of innocent men, women and children to live and breathe.
True, many states and even the Federal Government have, in the past, passed laws designed to make obtaining weapons more difficult for those deemed to be too great a risk to be permitted to possess them. Certain types of weapons, ammunition and magazines have also faced regulation to varying degrees over the course of time. Machine guns and other fully automatic weapons have been outlawed for civilian use for decades, with nary a cry of foul emanating from the Second Amendment crowd. Military assault type weapons, such as those most prominently used in Orlando, Sandy Hook and other recent mass murder episodes were also banned for a period, before the ban was permitted to expire by Congress during the George W. Bush Administration.
We’ve been through this pain too many times in the recent past to allow the situation to continue as is any longer. Australia and most other countries have responded to similar crises swiftly, effectively and without undue restrictions being placed on individual civil liberties. Members of Congress, church goers, school children have all been needlessly murdered in this country because guns are so plentiful and easily acquired in this country that just about anybody who wants to obtain one, legally or not, can get one if they want to badly enough. Even making simple background checks universal has been nixed by Congress. Gun manufacturers have been made immune from liability in cases of lawsuits on behalf of victims harmed by their products. Even research on effects of guns as a public health risk and study of their impact on our daily lives has been forbidden from receiving government funding.
State legislatures, not content to make it easy for people to obtain this weaponry, have decided it is absolutely essential that people be allowed to carry them (sometimes with legal permits) concealed in just about anyplace they want to have them – including schools, college campuses, grocery stores, churches and just about any kind of public establishment imaginable. It has gotten to the point where, if you don’t want guns someplace, you need to prominently post notice of that fact and may require people to go through extensive screening and metal detectors to make sure nobody is sneaking one in. Obvious places where this is true are airports, where this has been true for many years. Since the 9/11 terror attacks, screening there has become much more thorough. More recently, school buildings and other places have become far more foreboding places to enter, often having armed guards and metal detectors to pass through.
Making the bearing of firearms the rule rather than the exception in most public places is ludicrous. Law enforcement aside, having guns present in almost any place frequented by large numbers of people is an invitation to disaster, accidental or intentional. The movement in some states to allow open carry of firearms by just about anybody accomplishes little more than inviting intimidating behavior on the part of most of those who do it. Allowing anybody other than law enforcement personnel into a bar and mixing gun possession with alcohol is sheer lunacy. If you don’t want people to drive drunk, why let them have guns ready at hand while drinking?
After the Sandy Hook massacre where so many young children and school employees were killed, bills were brought before Congress to do a couple of things. First, an attempt was made to eliminate loopholes that allowed certain people to be able to sell guns without conducting background checks on those purchasing them. This was ignominiously defeated in Congress, despite the fact that it was a compromise bill with support from both Republicans and Democrats. A similar move was made to ban people on no-fly terrorist watch lists from being able to purchase guns. Sounds simple – if you don’t want to allow someone on an airplane, you don’t want them buying a gun, either, right? Same result. Vote failed.
The NRA has seemed in recent years to be steadfast in its opposition to just about ANY new restriction to gun ownership or usage. They fear monger members into believing that any law or regulation that makes purchase or ownership of any sort of firearm is the first step towards confiscation of every weapon owned by any person for any purpose whatsoever. Even Donald Trump is proclaiming loudly in stump speeches that Hillary Clinton will repeal the Second Amendment if elected President. People have been saying the same thing about President Obama repeatedly during his time in office. There are more guns in this country than at any time in our history. Where do they get these claims? There are restrictions placed on the exercise of each and every one of the right enumerated in the Bill of Rights. None are absolute.
Reinstating the assault weapons ban and instituting truly universal background checks for the purchase of firearms are a bare minimum start for effectively regulating guns to better suit the needs of responsible gun users and minimizing the recurrence of such tragic events as Sandy Hook (and the numerous other school shooting incidents), Orlando, Virginia Tech, the South Carolina church shooting. just to name a few. Nobody needs an assault rifle with 30 round clips of armor-piercing ammunition to hunt for Bambi’s relatives or defend their property and loved ones from home invasion or trespass by others with criminal intent.
The distraction in the Orlando case, as was the case in the recent San Bernardino shooting incident, is that the perpetrator was an Islamic Militant Extremist and it was a terrorist attack. These are ALL terrorist attacks, in my view. The Orlando incident will be excused as a battle in the war with ISIS. The attacks on the theater in Aurora, Colorado, Gabby Giffords, the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs have all been blamed on mental illness (which Congress also has no intention of addressing). They are all terrorist acts – ask any survivor if they were terrorized. That’s not main issue here. This case bears more in common with the others mentioned above (which had nothing to do with international terrorism) than it does to the 9/11 attacks or some of the recent coordinated attacks in Europe. This has more to do with guns than race, religion, sexual preference or ethnic background, as some in the news are trying to use as distractions in discussing the issue.
Whether the attack is caused by religious hatred, rabid intolerance, mental illness, homophobia, xenophobia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or just plain evil does not take away from the fact that the results are far more disastrous than would be the case if the perpetrators had either been prevented from obtaining a gun altogether, or if the weapons, ammunition and magazines had been less sophisticated and allowed them to be stopped without creating so many casualties. The link to ISIS in Orlando is tenuous at best. The case for armed homophobia is better. This was a case of domestic, not foreign, terrorism.
Senate Democrats this past week filibustered for some fifteen hours and appear to have attained assurance that some bills will be brought to a vote in the near future addressing proposed gun regulation. Capitulating to NRA/Gun Lobby intimidation needs to stop. Common sense reform to at least partially alleviate the number and extent of such incidents is needed now. Before the November election, our Congress needs to stand up and be counted. Votes for and against the NRA need to be closely watched, for it THAT, not ISIS, is the terror organization most directly responsible for the severity of the problem.
I’ll take the lives of the Sandy Hook elementary students, Pulse patrons, Planned Parenthood workers and patients, movie goers and other similarly slaughtered innocent people over the demagoguery of Wayne LaPierre, Ted Nugent and the other vocal and silent adherents to the extremist interpretation of the Second Amendment any day. Keep track of how your Representative and Senators vote on these issues. The way to keep the good ones is to vote out the ones either financed by or cowed into submission by the NRA and the other participants in the gun lobby into voting against the better interests of their constituents and the country as a whole.
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