Nobody does candlelight vigils like we do. When it comes to massive, lavish crime scene floral displays, we are without peer. And as for the always touching and inspirational moments of silence, what else is there to say except that we are – exceptional.
We get plenty of practice.
But when it comes to doing anything to address the endless gun violence in this country? Not so much. That would require work and the political will to do the right thing.
So it was hardly a shock after the record-setting murders of 49 people in an Orlando gay nightclub earlier this month that the U.S. Senate reliably turned into a profile in piffle, once more failing to take up even the most basic, commonsense gun reforms.
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After all, if the horrific shooting deaths of 20 first-graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 couldn’t move the gofers of the National Rifle Association populating the Senate to pass even a few watered-down gun control measures, why would anyone believe that 49 dead revelers in an Orlando gay bar would?
Why is such an obvious public safety crisis so seemingly impossible to fix?
Would not reasonable voices on both sides of the gun debate, in the spirit of defending “public safety,” be able to come to some commonsense resolution on the issue of expanding background checks to include the private sale of guns or banning weapons such as the AR-15 assault weapon and its various incarnations, whose only purpose is to efficiently kill people?
But “public safety” isn’t driving the gun discussion. It’s paranoia dressed up in faux patriotism.
This didn’t begin with the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, but the delusion the government wants to take everyone’s guns away certainly has escalated on his watch. Since Obama assumed office, Forbes magazine estimates the gun industry has seen a 158 percent growth rate, going from $19.1 billion in sales in 2008 to $49.3 billion in 2015. And the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms estimates gun-owning households have an average of 8.1 weapons.
If the “public safety” flap-jawing was truly intrinsic to the gun control discussion, then Congress would have heeded the vast majority of bipartisan public opinion (including from gun owners) in support of tightening background checks and banning assault weapons.
Thus first-graders will continue to be slaughtered. Nightclub patrons will continue to be at risk. Office workers celebrating Christmas will continue to be targets. Moviegoers will continue to wonder if they’ll get past the previews in one piece. And the rest of us will continue to wonder if beeping at another car in traffic is the equivalent of last rites. All because Congress doesn’t care.
What these tools of the NRA do care about is keeping their jobs. You want reasonable gun control? There is a way, and you’re going to have to pony up for it.
This nation will never undertake commonsense gun control until our elected officials begin to face consequences at the ballot box for their gutlessness. And that means matching the NRA’s disproportionate political influence dollar for dollar and then some.
Watch a few senators and House members lose their seats because they failed to support expanded background checks to include the sale of all weapons or ducked and covered when they had an opportunity to restrict the purchase of assault-style guns, and the tide will begin to turn in favor of rationality. After all, nothing focuses the mind more than a concession speech.
Until then, the candlelight vigils, floral displays and moments of silence will continue unabated. Practice, practice, practice.