President Trump read a canned, platitude-laden statement about Wednesday’s shooting of a congressional group practicing for an upcoming charity game. Only time will tell if the shooter was targeting anyone in particular or just members of Congress.
The shooter had written numerous letters to his hometown newspaper, voicing his displeasure with elected officials before he did something extreme.
While there is no one to blame specifically for this incident, there are two powerful individuals who do, in large part, influence the circumstances for this and other violent events: Trump and Wayne LaPierre.
The level of vitriol and acrimony are at unprecedented levels in our country, most of it fueled by Trump during the campaign. He has done nothing to diminish it since the election. We have a lack of civil discourse and perhaps the most divided citizenry in our history.
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LaPierre’s influence is extraordinary. NRA membership is about 4 million, roughly 10 percent of gun owners, yet the organization’s stranglehold over state and national politicians is overwhelming. Many Americans, including gun owners, agree there should be more in-depth background checks for gun ownership, and the loopholes for gun shows should be closed.
Yet all of this is abhorrent to LaPierre. His interpretation of the Second Amendment provides unchecked ownership to anyone who can afford to purchase a gun, regardless of their background. He threatens to pull the NRA’s support from elected officials and have them voted out of office if they don’t go along.
The odds that Trump or LaPierre will do anything to influence any of their supporters is zero. But I wonder how many more violent events have to take place before they, and/or national and state elected officials, might.
Mitchell J. Schlesinger,