When It Comes to Guns, It’s Business as Usual

When It Comes to Guns,
It’s Business as Usual

© David Burton 2018

SChool Shootings Dishonor roll

     In 2012, a heavily armed gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and started shooting. When he was done, he had killed 26 people, including 20 children, most of them with an assault-style rifle equipped with high-capacity magazines. He saved his final shot, reportedly fired from a handgun, for himself.

     “The massacre shocked the nation’s collective conscience and spurred calls for congressional lawmakers to do more than offer the ‘thoughts and prayers’ that have become commonplace in the aftermath of mass shootings in the U.S. . .
     “The White House sprang into action, assembling a task force and introducing an ambitious set of proposals designed to stem gun violence. They included more controversial items like reinstating the assault weapons ban and restoring a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines, measures designed to target the specific weaponry used by the gunman. Lawmakers also lobbied aggressively for highly popular initiatives, like implementing universal background checks for gun sales and making gun trafficking a federal crime.
     “After years of inaction thanks in part to powerful gun lobby interests, there was finally a promising push in Congress to address the gun violence that rips through the U.S. at rates far higher than any other developed nation. {Six} years and many mass shootings later, the effort on Capitol Hill has culminated in this truly remarkable list of legislative achievements.

List of Legislative Achievements: ZERO (0) GUN CONTROL LAWS ENACTED

     “Oh, never mind. Congress hasn’t passed a single piece of gun control legislation, beyond voting in 2013 to renew an expiring ban on plastic firearms, which could potentially bypass security checkpoints at airports and other locations. Most recently, Senate lawmakers worked to block a package of gun violence legislation, including a measure to bar individuals on terror watch lists from purchasing firearms.” (Ref. 1)

     Following the school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, “New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a strong statement responding to Friday's elementary school shooting in Connecticut, calling on Congress to take action on gun control.
     " ‘For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns,’ Bloomberg said. ‘Today, many of them were five-year-olds.’
     “Bloomberg, a co-chair of Mayors Against Guns, also slammed President Barack Obama's earlier statement on the shooting, saying that it did not go far enough to address the issue of gun violence.
     " ‘President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families,’ he continued. ‘But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress’
     “ ’Calling for 'meaningful action' is not enough. We need immediate action.’
     “Shortly after the statement went out, the NYC Mayors Office tweeted out a new Mayors Against Guns ‘Demand A Plan’ petition calling for Obama and Congress to address gun violence.” (Ref. 2)

     That was more than five years ago. Nothing came of the outcry for congressional action and Mayor Bloomberg’s call for more than words. Instead, America’s gun violence has gotten worse and school shootings continue. When it comes to guns, it’s business as usual! Young lives don’t seem to matter. In fact, no American life seems to matter when it comes to the Second Amendment and the “God-given right” to own and use guns - legal or illegal!

     Politicians spout bromides and pontificate, but do nothing meaningful while the carnage continues. They go through the motions of seeming to act, but, in reality do nothing constructive. They dance around the issue, mouth ineffective bromides, and issue sad-faced expressions of sympathy for the victims and their families, but they refuse to take the one brave, bold and necessary step to end the death-spiral of gun violence in America - the repeal of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The time has come to find and elect politicians who will not shy away from finally instituting the one step that has yet to be tried and which can begin the process of reducing gun deaths and injuries in America! Continued inaction is no longer an option!

     “For evil to succeed, all it needs is for good men to do nothing.” Martin Luther King Jr.

     Continuing the charade of appearing to take action while actually doing nothing, President Trump, in early March of 2018, “unveiled a bare-bones plan to combat school shootings that marked his retreat from gun control policies he had repeatedly championed just weeks ago, in a move likely to soothe the powerful National Rifle Association. [Emphasis mine]
     “Trump’s new plan focuses on ‘hardening’ schools with increased security and expresses support for boosting some background checks. But it punts the issue of gun control to a commission, headed by his pro-gun Education Secretary . . . , to review. It also leaves NRA-backed proposals, such as arming teachers, on the table — but defers such policies to the states to decide.
     “The proposals are a stark departure from Trump’s comments at a White House meeting last month during which he endorsed the idea of raising the age to purchase AR-15s and other high-powered long guns from 18 to 21 in the wake of the Feb. 14 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead at the hands of a 19-year-old wielding an AR-15-style rifle.
     “At his meeting, held days after the massacre, Trump {hypocritically} chided GOP lawmakers for not including an age-hike provision in legislation they proposed, telling them it was ‘because you’re afraid of the NRA, right?’
     The very next night, Trump held an unscheduled White House meeting with NRA leaders, tweeting afterward: ‘Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!’ [Emphasis mine]
     “Since then, the president has gradually backed off the idea of gun purchase age limits.
     “A White House official said that the president reacted not to opposition by the NRA, but from lawmakers — a distinction without a difference, given the legislative scorecard the NRA uses to determine whether to attack lawmakers come re-election time.
     “Gun-control advocates said the president missed a crucial opportunity to lead.
     “ ‘President Trump has offered only drips of water in response to a five-alarm fire,’ [Emphasis mine] said {the} co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.” (Ref. 3)

     In fairness to President Trump, his action (and actually his inaction) is no different than that of President Obama and other presidential predecessors, as well of that of most of congressional elected officials. Simply put, When it comes to guns, it’s business as usual!

     From Massachusetts to the White House, meaningless gun control measures were the theme of the week following the Florida school massacre as politicians scrambled to appear to be opposed to gun violence.

     U.S. Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts, in keeping with his liberal/Democratic solution of throwing money at any-and-all problems, came out “with his proposed solution to the nation’s gun violence problem, and it amounts to, of all things, a wonky federal grant program.
     “Markey wants to offer states financial incentives to change their laws to look more like the laws in Massachusetts. For example, police chiefs here are empowered to approve or revoke gun licenses for local residents; Markey’s plan would make states that adopt similar measures over the next five years eligible for federal money.
     “Massachusetts does indeed boast many sensible gun policies. But a federal handout won’t be the thing that convinces, say, the state of Wyoming to emulate the laws of this very blue commonwealth. The same might even be said of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
     “Meanwhile President Trump is out with his plan to address the school shooting problem, but it’s missing a central element that he embraced after the shooting in Parkland, Fla.: a federal increase in the minimum age to purchase a long gun, from 18 to 21.
     “Now, the president insists he is not afraid to stand up to the National Rifle Association — not like those weak-kneed members of Congress of his own party that he called out publicly a few weeks ago. No, it appears the president is afraid only of the NRA’s lawyers.
     “The NRA has sued the state of Florida, which . . . officially increased its age limit to purchase assault-style weapons to 21. Some national retailers have also been sued for acting on their own to raise the age. In a tweet . . . Trump said he is ‘watching court cases and rulings before acting’ on age limits.
     “But the idea that the president of the United States would hold off on pursuing a policy he supports because of the critical case of ‘Some Guy’ vs. Dick’s Sporting Goods is quite simply ludicrous.
     “The White House plan addresses bump stocks, calls for improvements in mental health care and encourages states to authorize gun violence restraining orders. All fine as far as they go.
     “But it also rushes to arm teachers while slow-walking a sensible restriction on gun sales. That is the NRA’s dream scenario, and no denial-by-tweet will change that.” (Ref. 4)

     By the way. With all the fuss over the issue of outlawing bump stocks, exactly how many school shootings have involved guns with bump stocks? Answer: ZERO! How many mass shootings have involved guns with bump stocks? Answer: ONE! The bump stock controversy is simply another red herring being thrown out to confuse and distract from the real issue – that of reducing the number of guns in the hands of would be mass killers! The real questions needing answers are: how many school shootings have involved guns? Answer: ALL OF THEM! And, how many mass shootings have involved guns? Answer: ALL OF THEM!

     “The Pew Research Center in 2017 suggested 7 out of 10 Americans favor an assault weapons ban (including 5 out of 10 gun owners). In our closely divided county, this level of agreement is rare.
     “Why, then, are we once again sending our ‘thoughts and prayers’ after a mass killing involving an assault weapon? . . .
     “For evil to succeed, all it needs is our continued ‘thoughts and prayers’ instead of meaningful action to let our local representatives know how we feel.” (Ref. 5)

     Gun rights advocates vigorously lay down a smoke screen of irrelevant issues to head off any meaningful actions on gun control. For example, in early March of this year. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to the Federal Education Secretary, “asking her to rescind the Obama administration’s 2014 guidance aimed at reducing disproportionate discipline of students of color and promoting alternatives to punitive discipline. The premise of Rubio’s letter isn’t unusual—conservative critics have claimed for years that this guidance was federal overreach and prevented schools from disciplining students. But what is unusual is that Rubio’s letter went even further and claimed that the guidance contributed to the terrible massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida [Emphasis mine] . . . Of course, none of Rubio’s argument is actually true . . . The attempt to blame the shooting on the discipline reforms advocated in the Obama-era guidance is another in a long line of attempted distractions from the real issue: the need to strengthen our nation’s gun laws to help reduce the epidemic of gun violence in this country.
     “The distraction of the discipline guidance follows on the heels of other distractions that claimed that gun violence is a mental health issue, not a guns issue, and that schools should arm teachers. . . All of these are just more false claims that prevent a serious discussion about gun safety. . .
      - - -
     “It’s clear that none of the arguments connecting the discipline guidance to the Parkland tragedy hold up under serious scrutiny. What’s also clear is that instead of talking about arming teachers or ignoring the disparate rates of discipline of students of color, policymakers should be talking about real solutions to the problem of gun violence. [Emphasis mine] They can start by banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, allowing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence as a public health issue, requiring background checks for all gun sales, supporting local violence reduction programs, and ensuring that all domestic abusers don’t have access to guns. These solutions are straightforward and have broad support across the country.” (Ref. 6)

     What is abundantly clear is that meaningful action to end gun violence has been continually and effectively sidetracked by gun enthusiast with smokescreens, red herrings and the inevitable reliance on the claim that any-and-all steps to control access to guns is prohibited by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Instead, potentially effective action is sidetracked with halting and ineffectual “baby steps” and groveling appeasement of the pro-gun lobby with more of the “same old, same old”. According to the NRA, instead of dramtically reducing the number of guns in the United States, we need to put more guns on the streets of America by arming teachers. Unbelievably, we have elected officials who go along with the NRA proposal.

     “Unfortunately, the likelihood of Congress passing meaningful gun reform is close to zero. Even as the urgency of American gun violence increases, Congress does nothing.
     “Many Republicans depend on support from the powerful gun lobby. They have every reason not to bend. Ditto the Democrats. Having taken so many political hits on gun politics over the last two decades, and sensing a sea-change that gives them the political upper-hand, why ease up now? The Democratic Party has every incentive to exploit the issue for political gain rather than concede even an inch and settle for a bill that can garner support from an increasingly elusive group of moderates.
     “The Republican intransigence on guns stems from fear of a powerful gun lobby led by the National Rifle Association. The NRA once took a bi-partisan approach, supporting members of either party it trusted on guns. But no more: Now the NRA is all in on the GOP. It spends tremendous amounts of money and mobilizes its membership base on behalf of the Republican lawmakers who toe its line.
     “GOP officials rightly fear that any willingness to compromise on gun issues will provoke the NRA’s wrath — which could result in the gun lobby backing a future primary opponent. In the middle of a presidential campaign where many fear that usually engaged political supporters may sit on the sidelines, to anger the NRA could be political suicide.
     “Democrats used to cower in fear of the NRA as well. For a generation, the party viewed gun issues as an untouchable third rail of politics.
      - - -
     “If there’s hope, it’s that the public is increasingly fed up with the never-ending drumbeat of gun violence that claims more 90 American lives each day. Only when the public demands that Congress elevates public safety over partisan politics — and makes that demand in the voting booth — will there be any real chance for federal legislation that will meaningfully combat American gun violence.” (Ref. 7)

     “To pass any significant gun control legislation through the United States Congress, President Trump would have had to exert the full power of his office. Trump would have had to twist the arms of his Republican colleagues and burn through significant political capital with his conservative base. So it’s not exactly surprising that over the weekend he backed away from pushing the more ambitious gun reforms that have circulated in Congress since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Without Trump on board, universal background checks and a host of other policies appear to have missed their moment for the millionth time.
     “ ‘I think we could all see it coming,’ . . . a leading Senate Democratic voice on guns, told reporters . . . ‘I’ve been skeptical since the beginning that the president and his party were really willing to break with the NRA.’ . . . ‘it will likely take an election where they pay a price for their fealty to the gun lobby’ for meaningful action to take place. Don’t hold your breath.
     “The only real glimmer of hope came . . . when the president seemed keen on a few pro–gun control policies during a televised meeting with members of Congress from both parties. He supported lifting the age of purchase for all firearms from 18 to 21, and he backed expanding background checks to cover gun show and online sales. He didn’t outright reject a resurrected assault weapons ban, either. Senate Democrats took some of the ideas Trump said he supported and quickly translated them into a legislative proposal, in the hopes of capitalizing on the president’s comments before he could change his mind.
     “But the president had lunch with top officials at the National Rifle Association just a few days after that meeting, and his willingness to buck the organization has steadily diminished since then. The White House position has been whittled down to support for the Fix NICS Act, a bipartisan bill to ensure better reporting of information into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, as well as offering Justice Department assistance for training educators to use firearms and establishing a commission to make recommendations for other reforms. In Washingtonese, this is known as ‘punting.’ The White House also urged states to pursue a policy of restraining orders allowing law enforcement to temporarily disarm those showing signs of danger. (Trump appears to have been convinced, now, that it’s worth securing warrants for such search and seizure instead of ‘taking the guns first.’) “(Ref. 8)

     As past history has shown, meaningful reform on guns or “school safety” may be nearing a quiet death, just weeks after demands for action peaked following the Parkland shooting. Unless-and-until the American public rises up and says ENOUGH, nothing meaningful will happen! Public outrage must clearly emphasize that the position that When it comes to guns, it’s business as usual! will no longer be tolerated.

     Unfortunately, as of now, “Sources on Capitol Hill now universally say they do not expect legislation—even the narrowed down variety—to pass, while senior officials at the White House appear committed to spotlighting the influence they suggest violent video games are having on our nation’s youth.
     “Frustration with the inertia bubbled over this week, sparking a round of finger-pointing over who exactly and which party is at fault. But the outcome should not have caught anyone by surprise. Doing nothing in the aftermath of a prior mass-shooting is a right of passage for Congress. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “As the state of Florida moved new measures into law, hints of gridlock on the federal level grew more visible in recent days. The simplest of legislative responses—a bill that would strengthen federal reporting requirements on background checks for gun purchases known as Fix NICs—has garnered 62 Senate co-sponsors, including the second-ranking Senate Republican.
     “That is enough for passage. And yet, the bill has stalled. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “ ‘Senate Republicans haven’t devoted one second to the gun safety debate on the Senate floor’ . . . ‘That fact says everything about their willingness to buck the NRA and get something real done.’
      - - -
     “The Trump administration, for its part, could not be clearer in its determination to let the news cycle move on from the shooting. A president who had, just last week, spoken about his ostensible desire to push comprehensive background checks and restrictions on buying AR-15s, spent the close of the week watching video games instead.” (Ref. 9)

     After a mass shooting, politicians offer condolences and prayers, observe moments of silence and order flags flown at half-staff. But afterward, legislative efforts are deferred and ultimately derailed. Invariably, the refrain is: not now, later; There will be a time and place for a political debate, but not now. Now is the time for us to mourn and unite as a country. And the time for political debate and meaningful action never comes. It’s always the same old story – now is not the time, later. When it comes to guns, it’s business as usual!

     Will the American public continue to avoid taking the first hard step toward reversing this trend? Or, will the American public finally stand up and demand that their elected representatives institute meaningful, effective and innovative legislation to reverse the trend of gun violence in the United States? Will the American public demand the repeal of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, followed by the enactment of radical and restrictive gun control laws that will put an end to these senseless killings? When it comes to gun violence, will the American public finally demand an end to the business as usual attitude of its elected officials? Isn’t now finally the right time?

  1. Here’s A List Of All The Gun Control Laws Congress Has Passed Since Newtown, Nick Wing, Huffingtonpost,
    14 December 2015.
  2. BLOOMBERG TO OBAMA: 'Calling For 'Meaningful Action' Is Not Enough', Grace Wyler, Business Insider,
    14 December 2012.
  3. President Donald Trump unloads school gun control issue, Kimberly Atkins, Boston Herald, Page 6,
    13 March 2018.
  4. Gun control muddle, Editorial, Boston Herald, Page 14, 13 March 2018.
  5. Letter: Meaningful action needed on gun control, Chris Howell, Shannon Walko, David J Young, http://www.hollandsentinel.com, 23 February 2018.
  6. Conservative Attacks on Discipline Reform Are a Distraction from Meaningful Action to Prevent Gun Violence, Scott Sargrad, Center for American Progress, 9 March 2018.
  7. Commentary: The real reason Congress can’t change gun laws, Adam Skaggs, Reuters, 21 June 2016.
  8. The Gun Debate Is Dead, Jim Newell, SLATE, 12 march 2018.
  9. A Push for Gun Control Legislation Appears Dead in Congress. Again., Asawin Suebsaeng, Sam Stein,
    Daily Beast, 9 march 2018.

  19 March 2018 {Article 319; Suggestions?_10}    
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