As we continue to mourn the latest mass murder and the president has expressed the anger and frustration that most of us feel, we all can just settle back to wait for the next atrocity and the resulting worthless disingenuous rhetoric about changing the nation’s barbaric gun culture.
Between now and then one thing is certain nothing will alter the status quo and the victims will just be more martyred to the cause delivering us from the evil of the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
If that seems unrelentingly cynical, it is justified by the refusal of American political and judicial leaders even to take the simplest steps toward a sane firearm’s policy time and again following the slaughter of innocents by the mentally disturbed.
There is little use in listing the atrocities that have stemmed from this blind worship of weaponry that is tolerated no place else in the world where life is considered precious. In fact, the Congress on this issue has abrogated its responsibilities to defend and protect those it represents, preferring to bow and scrape to the manufacturers of death and chaos and their powerful lobbies in the interest of self preservation.
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All this ranting of course will alter nothing in the debate. God or those listening to him during the writing of the Constitution of the United States decided that it would be necessary to protect the nation such as it was from foreign forces by making sure armed citizens could establish militias. From the beginning, the nation’s highest courts interpreted this as a collective right not necessarily an individual one.
That is until the current Supreme Court changed all that by unleashing the furies, clearing the way for extending the privilege of arming oneself to every man woman and child in every venue, no matter how precarious – churches, schools, bars, political events and on and on. Let’s hear it for the National Rifle Association and its mouthpieces on the U.S. Supreme Court, led by Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.
Barack Obama tried early in his second term to bring about a simple expansion of the background checks now necessary for the purchase of things like handguns, assault rifles and other weapons of mass destruction.
His proposal to Congress was designed to deter those with mental illness and other problems from obtaining firearms and repeating the atrocities that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary, the theater in Aurora, Colo., Virginia Tech University and the Washington Naval Yard – all committed by persons with deep emotional issues.
Ninety percent of Americans, polls showed, approved of that expansion. Yet the Congress in its infinite wisdom enhanced by all the campaign dollars stuffed in lawmaker’s pockets defeated the measure. In the Senate, Obama’s proposal went down by four votes, all cast by lawmakers of his own Democratic party.
Would this have prevented the tragedy in Charleston, where innocent members of a Bible study group were unceremoniously eliminated by a 21-year-old hate monger, white supremacist terrorist, and obvious defective in every sense of the word? His father had given him the .45 caliber weapon he used as a gift. He didn’t have to go into a gun store or to a gun show to purchase it. That however seems to me irrelevant in that it nevertheless was an act furthered by the romance of the gun society.
At the memorial service for his victims and before, Obama pledged that he would continue in the time remaining him to push for laws that would at least dent the possibilities of these hideous occurrences. If that is the case, he should do it now. He should contact House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and request to address a joint session of Congress on this matter. In the parlance of the game he loves, basketball, he should order his party and his legislative staff to put on “a full court press” that even UCLA’s late genius coach John Wooden would admire.
Whether this would work, who knows. The odds are long considering the number of guns available and the power of the pro gun lobby. It would be an all out rumble. But what has this man got to lose? What better tribute to his time in office than to bring even a smidgen of sanity into the trafficking of firearms. Even one less atrocity would make it all worthwhile.
Dan Thomasson is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service and a former vice president of Scripps Howard Newspapers. Readers may send him email at: : firstname.lastname@example.org .
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