If memory serves, the current occupant of the White House made much of a promise to “keep Americans safe.” We aren’t safe. Especially not from armed gunmen, not from deranged killers who have easy access to unimaginable levels of lethality. Perhaps one of the reasons we aren’t safe (in schools, on college campuses, in movie theaters, at restaurants, in concerts, at clinics, at big box retailers, in churches…) is that we’re asking the wrong question.
The question isn’t: What can we do to prevent “it?” The question should be what can we do to mitigate the lethality of these incidents?
We know what to do — we just haven’t been able to get the job done. And we’ve not gotten the job done because we have elected spineless, ethically challenged, gutless wonders to our Congress. They are quick to advise us to offer our thoughts and prayers for the victims of these tragedies — from Columbine to Sutherland Springs — but well short of the mark on offering constructive ways to deal with the mounting death toll.
We should, by now, have had Universal Background Checks on the books. No gun show loopholes, no unreasonable limitations on background check timing, no obstructions to agencies sharing information with one another about gun sales and violence. This won’t “solve” any particular incident, but it could prevent at least one more sale of semi-automatic weapons to the next deranged idiot.
We should, by now, have re-instituted the assault weapons ban. No, this doesn’t “solve” a specific incident, but there is NO reason for assault weaponry to be in civilian hands. This is, as Granny’s old line goes, “asking for trouble.”
We should, by now, have limitations on magazine capacity. Magazines sold to civilians don’t need to maximize the slaughter of other Americans.
We should, by now, have a bill sailing through the Congress outlawing the sale of items which have the sole purpose of modifying a semi-automatic weapon into automatic one, or one which allows the shooter to simulate automatic weapon fire. All this does is increase the lethality of the gun, at the expense of our fellow Americans.
Sometimes we forget that Nevada’s had not one, but two, mass shootings. On September 6, 2011 a mentally ill man opened fire at the Carson City IHOP restaurant killing four people (three of whom were members of the National Guard) and wounding seven others with a Norinco Mak 90 semiautomatic rifle. A neighboring businessman tried to return fire but was prevented from doing so because of the rate of fire from the shooter. Then there was the mass slaughter at the country-western music festival in Las Vegas, October 1, 2017 which left 58 dead and 546 injured. While news reports focused on why the shooters opened fire, not as many focused on how the lethality of these incidents could have been mitigated. There were calls to ban the “bump stocks” but little else.
And after Mother Emanuel there’s Sutherland Springs; churches, sanctified spaces, communal and public, for respite and spiritual rejuvenation — and murder. Could we have mitigated the lethality of these incidents? If we can’t prevent such heinous acts acts the least we can do is to take action to reduce the death toll, to reduce the number of victims, to reduce the pain and suffering of yet more families.
Perhaps we can do this if we reduce the number of members of Congress who spinelessly, gutlessly, obsequiously, cave into pressure from the gun manufacturer’s lobby and “government relations” squadrons.
One way to start is a bit of self-education, beginning with a stop at the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets website. How much money from the gun manufacturer’s lobby has your member of Congress taken? How much money have your Senators received from the NRA, Gun Owners of America, Shooting Sports Foundation, or the Safari Club International? How much money should their campaigns be returning as “blood money?”
The carnage won’t stop until WE the People make phone calls, send postcards, take to the streets, write letters to the editor, and speak out — armed with our own type of ammunition: Facts about the slaughter of innocent Americans at the hands of those whose easy access to firearms of increasing lethality makes them a danger to ourselves and our communities.