By all accounts, the past week in 21st Century America was as normal as the Sun appearing to rise in the East and set in the West. Seriously, there was the run-of-the-mill news that Russians interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump, Trump told a rash of lies, and then some high school students and their teachers were massacred in their school by a Trump supporter with easy access to several battlefield weapons.
As if to punctuate just how normal the week with another mass shooting really was, no small number of Republicans predictably responding with calls for thoughts and supplication to their god (prayers) to comfort the shooting victims and their families, and to blame people with mental health issues for another mass shooting and gun massacre; even though mental health is not the culprit.
The prayers and calls to address mental health will barely lasted another week, if that, and then it is back to awaiting the next mass shooting, the next batch of Republican calls to prayer, and of course the next round of calls to address mental illness. Oh, and to make the week of a mass shooting particularly normal, Republicans were perfectly normal in never addressing guns and it brings up a couple of issues Americans who are sick and tired of the “normal” never address.
First, it is high time for sane human beings to stop blaming and attacking the National Rifle Association for a very fundamental reason; the national gun lobby does not have the ability to pass or obstruct any kind of gun safety legislation. Everyone is aware that the NRA campaigns for Republicans, and they give those Republicans campaign donations, and they keep a gun-zealot “report card” to use against Republicans who would dare to oppose the NRA agenda.
But the truth is that the National Rifle Association is not an elected representative and does not get to cast one vote in the House or Senate for or against gun safety legislation any more than the Koch brothers get to cast even one vote for tax cuts or legislation ending environmental regulations. Those votes are the sole responsibility of Republicans.
At this point, it is important to remind gun safety advocates that the only Americans with the ability to address gun violence and pass sane gun safety regulations at the national level are Republicans in Congress; Democrats have mostly supported basic gun safety regulations. To be fair, Republicans are only able to protect the NRA and gun fanatics because they continue winning elections and it raises another issue that defies logic. If there is such overwhelming support for the most basic gun safety regulations, then why in dog’s name do those same Americans continue voting for Republicans who are religiously opposed to regulating guns?
Studies show that over 90 percent of the population supports a universal background check to purchase firearms, and nearly 70 percent support a ban on battlefield assault weapons like those used in the past three mass shootings. And yet a fair majority of those same people vote for Republicans even as they pander to the gun lobby at the same level they pander to evangelical fanatics.
It is true that the only means of addressing gun violence in America is evicting Republicans from Congress and state legislatures because they always vehemently oppose and block gun laws and regulations. However, they would not be blocking what most Americans apparently want, sane gun safety measures, if those same Americans were not voting to keep them in power. Any effort to address the gun violence in this country begins and ends with getting religious fanatics and bigots to stop sending Republicans to Washington to continue the gun proliferation crusade only they can stop.
The latest massacre has also brought out the typical response from gun safety advocates that will eventually fade from the population’s memory. A rash of petitions, a campaign to “call your congressional representatives” and demand action, and appeals for money to fight the National Rifle Association are the big thing immediately after every typical gun massacre and the Florida massacre is no different. Those responses, although well-meaning, have proven to be every stinking bit as ineffective as the Republican calls for “thoughts and prayers” for the victims and their families.
This latest massacre has brought something new in that the student survivors are calling for mass protests, marches, sit-ins and student walkouts that may make the people feel like they are doing something constructive. But like thoughts and prayers, petitions, and donation requests, they will not influence even one Republican to support sane gun safety legislation. At best, the only real hope going forward is that voters, particularly half-sane Republican voters, will get the message that their political party is solely responsible for the NRA’s success at putting more guns, especially assault weapons, on American streets and in American schools. The only way to shut down the NRA, and begin bringing some sanity to the gun debate, is getting Republicans out of Congress and state legislatures.
Republicans are as terrified of inflaming their gun zealot base as they are the NRA or there would have been action on reducing gun violence immediately after any one of the “normal” mass shootings plaguing America. The only possibility of actually addressing gun violence and the gun proliferation crusade is evicting Republicans from power because every other approach has proven futile. That was made perfectly clear this week in Florida.
Despite their state making national headlines for another mass shooting with an assault weapon, Florida’s Republican controlled legislature rejected an attempt at banning assault rifles like the one used in the most recent massacre. With the massacre less than a week old and with survivors of the massacre present in the legislative chamber, Republicans put a quick end to any effort to ban assault weapons in Florida. Notice it was Republicans, not the NRA and not Trump, who voted against the assault weapon ban in the same manner it was Republicans and nasty right-wing maniacs who launched a smear campaign against the mass shooting survivors. However, Trump’s son did, in fact, join in the smear campaign even while it is reported he is advising dirty Don Sr. on gun policy.
Look, there should not be a need for a giant concerted effort to address the gun violence plaguing America, but since there is a pressing need it is imperative to make that effort effective; and it begins and ends with getting Republicans out of power. Even criticizing Trump, although satisfying, will not impress on Republicans in Congress and state legislatures that Americans want sane gun safety laws to protect American citizens. If the head of the Executive Branch could wave a magic wand and ban assault weapons or enact universal background checks for gun purchases, President Barack Obama would have taken action and solved the issue years ago. It is only Republicans in Congress and state legislatures who are blocking an effort to address gun violence and since they have demonstrated that they will never take action then they have to be sent packing.
If the current movement continues gaining momentum, then it is crucial that the effort targets the only people who can actually address this pressing issue – Republicans. Of course the NRA is a vile organization, but it is not capable of casting one vote against sane gun safety laws in the House or Senate, only Republicans are. Americans are not really serious about addressing the epidemic of gun massacres unless they make Republicans the focus of any concerted effort and evict them from power with extreme prejudice; if that effort fails there will be no change whatsoever.