“These kinds of terrible, tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul searching…”
– President Barack Obama, in response to the mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Sunday, August 5, 2012
Thank you, President Obvious.
You know, I’m not clear on this. In the lexicon of political double-speak, is “soul searching” what happens after lip service, or before? Mass shootings, or their euphemistic cousin, domestic terrorism, should not be the opening to conversations about gun control. Common sense, and the fact that, according to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, someone in America dies from a firearm every 17 minutes, should rule policy.
Instead, the administration’s response to the Aurora and Oak Creek shootings has been to call for cultural introspection, and to restate their support for the assault weapons ban, also known as the Brady Bill, that expired in 2004.
“He’ll continue to instruct his administration to take action towards common-sense measures that protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” presidential spokesman, Jay Carney, told reporters, in an election year type of response, at Monday’s press briefing. Not wanting to piss off the dwindling number of “undecideds” Obama might need for reelection, Carney laid the blame for gun violence on Congress.
“There is no question that there has been a reluctance to act in Congress on these issues,” he said. But what about the administration’s milquetoast, politically safe reaction? Isn’t that also a “reluctance to act?”
This is one of those times I want the president to be angry, and not do the politically safe thing, but do the right thing. If we had even the most reasonable gun control laws, it’s likely a litany of American tragedy, over just the past 15 years, would not have happened.
It doesn’t matter how many times the administration asserts “the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens;” the Left still thinks he’s not doing enough and the Right still thinks he’s playing ‘possum. For goodness’ sake, people want to know their families are safe going to the movies, to worship and to school. Stand by your convictions, man! Lacking political will, the sad news of the last month at least gives you political cover.
The fact that both accused shooters in the most recent, sensational murders, James Holmes and Wade Page, reportedly got their weapons legally, only makes things worse. It means the laws are too lax to stop them.
Look, the Second Amendment can be legislated. It is distinct from the First Amendment by four simple words: “Congress shall make no law.” That phrase is the key Constitutional guarantee to freedoms of press, religion and assembly; there is no such guarantee in the Second Amendment. All it says is “…shall not be infringed,” leaving Congress free to regulate, without disturbing the heart of “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
There is a reasonable way. Stop Handgun Violence, the non-profit behind the anti-gun billboards that have been posted outside the Red Sox’ Fenway Park, along the Massachusetts Turnpike, in Boston, since the mid-1990s, says its mission is to “prevent firearm violence through public awareness and sensible legislation.”
SHV, which is based in Newton, Massachusetts, claims that its efforts resulted in that state having “the most comprehensive gun legislation in the nation,” showing that it is possible to approve legislation that passes the Constitutionality test. That means, standing in the way of a national conversation addressing gun violence are politicians, lobbyists, and the National Rifle Association. Those groups can try to be introspective, but their “soul searching” will never get beyond their own wallets, will never usurp their own concerns for the public’s welfare.
This is the time for boldness. And if you ask the Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and the families who were only going to the movies in Aurora, Colorado, it is, in fact, already too late.
- Don’t surrender to such violence (hamptonroads.com)
- Sikh temple shooting …Mayors Against Illegal Guns (point4counterpoint.wordpress.com)
- Sikh Temple: In Wake of Yet Another Massacre, What Will it Take to Stop the Gun Madness? (alternet.org)