When it Comes to Mass Shootings, There are Doers and Then There are Politicians

When it Comes to Mass Shootings, There are Doers and Then There are Politicians

© David Burton 2018


The Problem

     “It’s going to happen again. There will be another mass shooting in America.
     “It’s tragic . . . but this is the clear pattern . . . A horrific tragedy happens. There are calls for action. Maybe something gets introduced in Congress. The debate goes back and forth for a bit. Then people move on — usually after a week or two. And so there’s eventually another shooting.
     “. . {Reporters} do the same thing every single time {they} get news of a mass shooting: verify reports, write a ‘what we know’ article, and then begin to update {their} old pieces on guns. {They} do this almost instinctively at this point — . . . No one should get used to this.
     “There are signs that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, which killed at least 17 people, could have a different outcome. There are protests already planned: the National School Walkout, the March for Our Lives, and more to come. Students with highly sympathetic stories are speaking up. The sense of outrage seems to be sustained. [Emphasis mine]
     “ ‘Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have ever been done to prevent this, we call BS,’ . . . a student survivor said in a speech at a gun control rally that went viral. ‘They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. … They say that no laws could have been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS.’
     “But I remain skeptical. The federal government did nothing after 6- and 7-year-olds were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 children, six adults, and himself in 2012. Since then, there have been more than 1,600 mass shootings, killing more than 1,800 people and wounding more than 6,400. Many of these events led to protests and calls for actions, but Congress refused to budge every time. [Emphasis mine}
     “As I see it, the core issue is that America as a whole refuses to even admit it has a serious problem with guns and gun violence. And more than that, lawmakers continue acting like the solutions are some sort of mystery, as if there aren’t years of research and experiences in other countries that show restrictions on firearms can save lives.
     “Consider President Donald Trump’s speech responding to the Florida shooting: His only mention of guns was a vague reference to ‘gunfire’ as he described what happened. He never even brought up gun control or anything related to that debate, instead vaguely promising to work ‘with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.’
     “This is America’s elected leader — and he essentially, based on his public response, ignored what the real problem is. And although the White House said that it came around to bipartisan proposals to very slightly improve background checks and ban bump stocks, the compromises amount to fairly small changes to America’s weak gun laws. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “. . . America can’t get to {the} solutions until it admits it has a gun problem and confronts the reality of what it would mean to seriously address it.
     “The US is unique in two key — and related — ways when it comes to guns: It has way more gun deaths than other developed nations, and it has far more guns than any other country in the world. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “. . . According to CNN, ‘The US makes up less than 5% of the world’s population, but holds 31% of global mass shooters.’ [Emphasis mine]
     “The US also has by far the highest number of privately owned guns in the world. Estimated in 2007, the number of civilian-owned firearms in the US was 88.8 guns per 100 people, meaning there was almost one privately owned gun per American and more than one per American adult. The world’s second-ranked country was Yemen, a quasi-failed state torn by civil war, where there were 54.8 guns per 100 people.
     “Another way of looking at that: Americans make up less than 5 percent of the world’s population yet own roughly 42 percent of all the world’s privately held firearms.
     “These two facts — on gun deaths and firearm ownership — are related. . .
      - - -
     “Supporters of gun rights look at America’s high levels of gun violence and argue that guns are not the problem. They point to other issues, from violence in video games and movies to the supposed breakdown of the traditional family.
     “Most recently, they’ve focused particularly on mental health. This is the only policy issue that Trump mentioned in his speech following the Florida shooting.
      - - -
     “{But} The problem, instead, is guns — and America’s abundance of them.
      - - -
     “. . . research . . . suggests that gun control can work. A 2016 review of 130 studies in 10 countries, published in Epidemiologic Reviews, found that new legal restrictions on owning and purchasing guns tended to be followed by a drop in gun violence — a strong indicator that restricting access to firearms can save lives.
      - - -
     “America’s attention to gun control often focuses on a few specific measures: universal background checks, restrictions on people with mental illnesses buying firearms, and an assault weapons ban, for example. It is rare that American politicians, even on the left, go much further than that. Something like . . . a confiscation program — is never seriously considered.
     “. . . The US’s gun problem is so dire that it arguably needs solutions that go way further than what we typically see in mainstream proposals . . .
     “If the fundamental problem is that America has far too many guns, then policies need to cut the number of guns in circulation right now to seriously reduce the number of gun deaths. Background checks and other restrictions on who can buy a gun can’t achieve that in the short term. What America likely needs, then, is something . . . like . . . a gun confiscation scheme — paired with a serious ban on specific firearms (including, potentially, all semiautomatic weapons).
     “But no one in Congress is seriously proposing something that sweeping. The . . . only gun legislation in Congress after Sandy Hook that came close to becoming law, didn’t even establish universal background checks. Recent proposals have been even milder, taking small steps like banning bump stocks or slightly improving the existing system for background checks.
     “{The major p}art of the holdup is the Second Amendment. . .
     “So the US, for political, cultural, and legal reasons, seems to be unable to take the action that it really needs.” (Ref. 1)

     How truly sad it is when 16- and 17-year old high school students have to take the lead in calling for a solution to a problem that is causing the deaths of their fellow students and other Americans while our elected public officials refuse to take the bold and necessary steps to once-and-for-all rid us of this growing calamity!

Where Do We Start?

     Where do we start to end gun violence and mass shootings in America? We start by repealing the second amendment to the Consitution! Every time there is an attempt to institute meaningful gun control legislation and to end or, at least, to reduce the number of gun deaths, injuries and mass shootings, the gun owners, the gun lobby, and the plain gun nuts invoke the 2nd amendment, as if it was some law engraved on tablets of stone that was handed down from God and which is immutable, sacred and unchangeable. It’s time to refute such argument! The 2nd amendment is no such thing! Is is simply an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. It was not even the first amendment to the Constitution and, let’s remember that the U.S. Constitution was not even the first set of rules to govern the newly independent Thirteen Colonies – the Articles of Confederation were! Also, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Constitution was designed to be amended, i.e., changed, and that amendments to the Constitution can and have been repealed. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not sacred and it is not sacrosanct – it can be changed and it can be repealed! The time has now arrived when it must be repealed!

     The number of shootings, gun deaths, and gun injuries in America has reached epidemic proportions. All attempts to get this epidemic under control have been stymied by the gun owners and their lobbies – primarily the National Rifle Association (NRA) – and the politicians who pander to them and garner financial support from them or are gun advocates themselves. These gun advocates trot out the now tiresome canard that the 2nd amendment gives all Americans the God-given right to own and use guns, no matter the consequences. Enough!

     According to gun enthusiasts, the Second Amendment – the second of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution which are known as the Bill of Rights - protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, some two and a quarter centuries ago. . . [2]

     Times have changed since the Constitution of the united States was ratified. What was appropriate and necessary more than 225 years ago bears no resemblance to what is appropriate and necessary now in the 21st century. A discussion, along with rationale for modifying or repealing the 2nd amendment is presented in Reference 3.

     How do we reduce gun violence in America? We start with the repeal of the Second Amendment. “Next, we have to get our legislators to stop succumbing to the bullying demands of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun fanatics that keep guns in the hands of those who have little to no regard for human life and suffering. Finally, we need to begin the process of changing the weak federal laws that allow almost anyone access to a wide variety of deadly weapons.” (Ref. 3)

     Get rid of the 2nd amendment and then institute strong and innovative, common sense reforms. Some of the more obvious reforms could include:
  • ”Ban large capacity ammunition magazines. Large capacity magazines, some of which can hold up to 100 rounds, are the common thread uniting all of the major mass shootings in recent history. These magazines were prohibited under federal law until Congress allowed the 1994 assault weapons ban to expire in 2004. There's simply no reason not to ban them again.
  • ”Reinstitute the prohibition on automatic and semi-automatic firearms that was contained in The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) act of 1994. The ban was passed by Congress in 1994, but was allowed to expire in 2004.
  • ”Require a background check every time a firearm is sold. Under current federal law, a prospective purchaser only has to undergo a background check when buying a gun from a licensed dealer. If a person buys a gun from a so-called ‘private seller’ —as is the case in an estimated 40 percent of gun sales every year—no background check is federally required. Uncounted numbers of convicted criminals and mentally ill individuals have exploited the ‘private sale loophole’ to gain access to guns.
  • ”Make interstate gun trafficking a federal crime, and increase penalties for so-called ‘straw-man’ sales in which someone buys a gun to deliver to a third party.
  • ”Make the owner of record of a firearm accountable for crimes committed with his or her gun
  • ”Require waiting periods for gun purchases so that background checks can be finished and to encourage buyers to ‘cool off’ from any violent impulses that might be motivating them to buy a weapon.
  • ”Require training for those wanting to be issued a gun license.
  • ”Establish and maintain a registry of weapons.
  • ”Increase funding of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) department to allow better enforcement of existing laws and of the needed new legislation.
  • ”Improve access to funding and data for researchers. Congress has, time and again, succumbed to gun lobby pressure to obstruct research into the development of smart, effective policies to fight gun violence, stopping the flow of data as well as money. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) once played a key role in supporting research into the public health concerns surrounding gun violence and the development of effective firearms laws. That was until Congress singled out guns in the CDC's funding bill with language stating that, ‘None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control…may be used to advocate or promote gun control.’ ”
     “Coupled with new and better gun control laws, there is need for increased gun law enforcement and harsher penalties for gun law violations. While it is unreasonable to expect the elimination of all gunshot inflicted deaths and injuries, it can be expected and it should be demanded that the number of such deaths and injuries be greatly reduced, starting immediately. We as a nation need to put a stop to gun fanatic lobbying and remove pandering politicians from office.”
      - - -
     “Repealing the Second Amendment is in keeping 'with the spirit in which the Constitution was drafted. The Bill of Rights belongs to a document that was designed to be changed; indeed, it was part of the genius of our founders to allow for a process of amendment. The process is appropriately cumbersome, but it is not impossible. Since its adoption in 1787, the American people have chosen to amend the Constitution 27 times.' (Ref. 3)

     “The Constitution is mere human law. It is excellent law, but it is not divine law; it is not revelation. We should be wary of amending the Bill of Rights. We should also be wary of idolizing it. The Constitution is the man-made law of a self-governing people. . .
     “Today, in the 21st century, the time has long since passed for repealing the outdated and irrelevant Second Amendment to the Constitution and for instituting meaningful federal and state laws to put an end to the escalation of gun crimes in the United States." (Ref. 4)

There are Those Who Are Actually Doing Something

Dick’s Sporting Goods

     On 28 February, it was announced that:

     “Dick's Sporting Goods will immediately stop selling assault-style rifles and ban the sale of all guns to anyone under 21, the company said Wednesday, as its CEO took on the National Rifle Association by demanding tougher gun laws after the massacre in Florida.
     “The strongly worded announcement from the nationwide store chain came as students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, returned to class for the first time since a teenager killed 17 students and educators with an AR-15 rifle two weeks ago.
     " ‘When we saw what the kids were going through and the grief of the parents and the kids who were killed in Parkland, we felt we needed to do something,’ Chairman and CEO Ed Stack said on ABC's ‘Good Morning America.’
     “The change in sales practices, and the emphatic words from Stack, put Dick's out front in the falling-out between corporate America and the gun lobby. Several major corporations, including MetLife, Hertz and Delta Air Lines, have cut ties with the NRA since the Florida tragedy, but until now, none were retailers that sold guns.
      - - -
     “. . . Stack . . . called on lawmakers to act now.
     “He urged them to ban assault-style firearms, bump stocks and high-capacity magazines and raise the minimum age to buy firearms to 21. He said universal background checks should be required, and there should be a complete database of those banned from buying firearms. He also called for the closing of the private sale and gun show loophole that enables purchasers to escape background checks.” (Ref. 5)

Walmart and Other Corporations

     “Walmart Inc, the largest U.S. retailer, joined Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc in raising the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21 after the massacre at a Florida high school that has reopened a fierce debate over gun control in America.
     “Walmart said that ‘in light of recent events’ it was raising the age for purchasers of firearms and ammunition to 21 from 18. The retailer also was removing items from its website that resemble assault rifles, including non-lethal airsoft guns and toys. Walmart stopped selling assault firearms and accessories in 2015 and only sells handguns in Alaska.
      - - -
     “. . . It was the latest company to take action after the Florida shooting. Other businesses have cut ties with the NRA and gun manufacturers.
     “Amazon.com Inc, the world’s largest online retailer, has long prohibited the sale of firearms and explosives on its websites, as well as ammunition and gun accessories in most cases. . .
     “EBay said its policy prohibits the sale of firearms and high-capacity magazines of more than 10 rounds.” (Ref. 6)

Florida and Other High School Students

     “Students who escaped the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are now turning their emotions into action.
     “They are setting their sights on the president, politicians and a call for gun control.
    - - -
     “Student organizers say they are determined to make Wednesday's shooting a turning point in the national gun debate, announcing a national march on Washington to demand political action on gun control. (Ref. 7)

     A short time after the Florida school shootings, “Survivors of the Florida school shooting descended on the state's Capitol . . . with one overarching message: It's time for action. The students entered a gun-friendly political climate in Tallahassee, where lawmakers have rebuffed gun restrictions since Republicans took control of both the governor's office and the Legislature in 1999.
     “The students received attention and a warm reception, but politicians did not offer specific answers. The students' biggest wish - banning assault-type weapons such as the AR-15, the weapon allegedly used by {the} suspect {in the shootings} -- was taken off the table the previous day in the House. [Emphasis mine]
     “. . . a junior at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, watched Florida's House of Representatives reject a motion to debate a bill banning assault weapons . . .
     “{Crying, the student said:} ‘The next death of someone with an assault rifle here in Florida is going to be on them, and it's going to be their fault.’
     - - -
     " ‘We've spoke to only a few legislators, and, try as they might, the most we've gotten out of them is 'We'll keep you in our thoughts. You are so strong. You are so powerful,’ [Emphasis mine] said {a} Stoneman Douglas senior . . .
     “She added: ‘We've had enough of thoughts and prayers. If you supported us, you would have made a change long ago. So this is to every lawmaker out there: No longer can you take money from the NRA. We are coming after you. We are coming after every single one of you, demanding that you take action.’
     - - -
     " ‘We're what's making the change. We're going to talk to these politicians. ... We're going to keep pushing until something is done because people are dying and this can't happen anymore,’ said . . . a 16-year-old junior.
     - - -
     “{Florida} Democrats attempted to get a bill to ban assault rifles and large-capacity magazines heard on the House floor on Tuesday. Republicans, who dominate the chamber, dismissed it.” (Ref. 8)

     “According to a mission statement for March For Our Lives, students across the country will converge on Washington next month {March} to say the nation can no longer wait to tackle issues of school safety and gun control reform. They're asking that like-minded folks who can't make it to the nation's capital stage solidarity marches in their own communities.
      - - -
     " ‘We've sat around too long being inactive in our political climate, and as a result, children have died’ {said a Parkland high school student.} ‘If our elected officials are not willing to stand up and say, 'I'm not going to continue to take money from the NRA because children are dying,' they shouldn't be in office and they won't be in office because this is a midterm year and this is the change that we need.’
     “{The student} went so far as to say he and his classmates wanted to stigmatize politicians who take campaign contributions from the NRA.
     " ‘This isn't about the GOP. This isn't about the Democrats," he said. "This is about us creating a badge of shame for any politicians who are accepting money from the NRA and using us as collateral.’ “ (Ref. 9)

     “The unprecedented lobbying effort by groups of teenagers and parents at the White House and at the Florida statehouse in Tallahassee played out as fellow students staged classroom walkouts and rallies in cities across the country.
     “Trump held an emotional, hour-long meeting with students who survived the Florida shooting and a parent whose child did not.” (Ref. 10) The meeting did nothing but to elicit sympathy and condolences from the President and meaningless platitudes about his wanting to solve the problem – but he did not take the bold and necessary step of telling the meeting attendees that the time had come when the Second Amendment to the Constitution no longer had the relevance that it possessed 227 years ago and that he would work for its repeal and the passage of laws to severely restrict the possession and illegal use of guns in the United States.

Then There are the Politicians (and the NRA)

     “{Florida politicians reacted in typical fashion to America’s gun crisis – they did nothing!} Lawmakers in Tallahassee said they would consider [Emphasis mine] raising the age limit to 21, the same standard for handguns and alcohol, although the state Senate opted on Wednesday not to take up a gun control measure. [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 4)

     President Trump at the White House meeting following the Parkland, Florida shootings, said, “arming teachers and other school staff could help prevent future mass shootings, voicing support for an idea backed by the powerful National Rifle Association gun lobby.
     "The Republican president, who has championed gun rights and was endorsed by the NRA during the 2016 campaign, said he would move quickly to tighten background checks for gun buyers and would consider [Emphasis mine] raising the age for buying certain types of guns.”
      - - -
     “{A father of a} daughter killed at Stoneman Douglas, told Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida at a town hall program televised on CNN {that} . . . his comments and those of the president’s in the past week had been ‘pathetically weak' [Emphasis mine] {as have been those of nearly all politicians}.
     “Rubio, under fire for saying the problems could not be solved by gun laws alone, said he would support a law that would prevent 18-year-olds from buying a rifle as well as a ban on ‘bump stocks,’ an accessory that enables a rifle to shoot hundreds of rounds a minute.” (Ref. 10) But, neither he nor the President would stand up against the NRA and call for an outright repeal of the Second Amendment as a first and necessary step to bringing the gun problem under control!

     In another attempt to appear as if he were doing something to alleviate the gun calamity, President Trump directed the Justice Department to work on a regulation that would effectively ban bump stocks. The NRA opposes an outright ban on bump stocks but has said it would be open to restrictions on them – how nice of the NRA to be in favor of this! Banning bump stocks couldn’t hurt, but getting guns off the street would be much more effective.

     An NRA spokeswoman told a crowd of several thousand people the gun lobby wanted to prevent people with mental illness that make them a danger to themselves and others from getting firearms, and that authorities needed to do a better job of following up on warning signs.[10] The statement was a typical and repeated NRA smokescreen meant to divert attention away from the need to severely curtail the number of guns in America and to totally do away with certain types of gun that only belong in the hands of the military or law enforcement agencies.

     Here, again are the typical politician’s and NRA’s response to the gun crisis in America: provide expressions of sorrow and sympathy to survivors of gun violence and to the families of those killed by guns, but do little to nothing to solve the problem; appear to favor greater restrictions on gun ownership but do nothing practical to reduce gun deaths and injuries; continue to claim that the Second Amendment to the Constitution prevents any meaningful restrictions on gun ownership.

     As usual, there were the familiar politician reactions to the call for stricter gun controls. According to these politicians and to others, the mantra was: “Now is not the time.” But if not now, when? Unfortunately, for too many politicians and gun advocates, the right time is never!

     Following the recent Florida school shootings, “The reactions to the country's latest mass shooting appear to be falling along fairly familiar party lines, with a number of key Republicans saying that now is not the time to discuss any gun control reforms while some Democrats demand action.
      - - -
     “. . . just hours after the attack, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Flor., was asked by a Fox News reporter if he thought it was appropriate to talk about gun control reform after the attack.
      - - -
     “{According to Rubio:} ‘I think it’s important to know all of that before you jump to conclusions that there’s some law we could have passed that could have prevented it. There may be, but shouldn’t we at least know the facts? I think that we can always have that debate but if you’re going to have the debate about this particular incident, you should know the facts of that incident before you run out and prescribe some law you claim could have prevented it,’
     “Later that evening, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that ‘there's a time’ to talk about changes in the wake of horrible events but did not say specifically when that time was.
     " ‘There's a time to continue to have these conversations about how through law enforcement, how through mental illness funding that we make sure that people are safe’
     {A} Conservative blogger . . . joined the chorus . . . tweeting that ‘the left’ was being too quick to jump on the issue.
     " ‘Can the Left let the families grieve for even 24 hours before they push their anti-gun and anti-gunowner agenda? My goodness. This isn't about a gun it's about another lunatic. #FloridaShooting’
     “The following day, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., echoed Rubio's sentiments, saying that ‘this is not a time to jump to some conclusion not knowing the full facts. We've got a lot more information we need to know.’ “ (Ref. 11)

     It’s now 17 years since the Columbine school shootings and 5-plus years since the Sandy Hook school shootings. The Florida school shooting is America’s 18th school shooting this year – in just the 1st month-and-a-half of the year. “By the reckoning of the Gun Violence Archive, the killing in Florida was the country’s 1,607th mass shooting since Sandy Hook. In other words, America has had more than one mass shooting every day since then, costing 1,846 lives. . . The superintendent of Broward County’s public schools {and President Trump} . . . appeared to blame the killing on the poor state of Americans’ mental health. That is an explanation favoured on the right. It does not take account of the fact that the toll of gun violence in other rich countries, with comparable health indicators, is negligible by comparison.” [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 12) On top of these school shootings, there have been numerous mass shootings over the years - the Las Vegas shooting last year being the worst. And all the while, the politicians, the NRA and the gun nuts tell us not to rush to judgement, to study the problem to death and to obediently follow the Divine Word of the Second Amendment to U.S. Constitution!


  1. I’ve covered gun violence for years. The solutions aren’t a big mystery., German Lopez, Vox,
    21 February 2018.
  2. Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, Wikipedia, Accessed 3 May 2017.
  3. The Second Amendment in 2017, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu; Article 292, 1 June 2017.
  4. Repeal the Second Amendment, America, The Jesuit Review, 25 February 2013.
  5. Dick's Sporting Goods to immediately stop selling assault-style rifles in its stores,
    Damian J. Troise, Chicago Tribune, 28 February 2018.
  6. Walmart joins Dick's Sporting Goods in raising age to buy guns, Susan Heavey, Nandita Bose, Reuters,
    28 February 2018.
  7. Students demand political action in wake of deadly Fla. school shooting, FOX29,
    18 February 2018.
  8. Florida students pressing gun control case in state capital, CBS News, 21 February 2018.
  9. Parkland students say, 'We are going to be the last mass shooting',
    Eliott C. McLaughlin and Nicole Chavez, CNN, 18 February 2018.
  10. U.S. students protest over gun laws, Trump considers arming teachers,
    Jeff Mason, Zachary Fagenson, Reuters, 21 February 2018.
  11. The mix of politicians saying it's either not the time to talk about gun control or it's past time, Meghan Keneally,
    abc NEWS, 16 February 2018.
  12. America seems unable to solve a scourge that exists nowhere else, The Economist, 17 February 2018.

  8 March 2018 {Article 318; Suggestions?_09}    
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