The hearings on Capitol Hill on the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School are descending into farce. As was expected, testimony by gun supporters will accept absolutely no controls on the trade in weapons, regardless of the harm on the population. The brutal massacre of twenty children between the ages of six and seven, and the equally savage slaughter of six adults has had no impact on the conservative lust for assault weapons.
Regardless of the harm wrought by the arms trade, regardless of the suffering of victims and their families, the death by suicide, regardless of the reality of twenty-six innocent people mown down by a single bloodthirsty individual, conservatives and their Republican supplicants refuse to implement common sense gun control legislation.
There are times, and those times are becoming more and more frequent, that politics in these United States looks and sounds like an asylum for the criminally insane, and the asylum is being run by the inmates. The conservative approach to dozens of common sense issues just appears to be the actions of deranged minds. Perhaps this is just the madness of crowds, pressure from peers to act in a manner inconsistent with a rational society.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a gunman in Tucson, Arizona, and is still recovering from her injuries. She testified at the hearings, telling lawmakers that “America is counting on you” to act quickly to curb gun violence. She spoke with great difficulty, pausing over every word, an emotional delivery that ought to have softened even the hardest heart. Gabby struggles to walk, is partially blind, and battles to speak. It is because of guns that her life will never be the same.
The National Rifle Association was also present at the hearings, represented by their chairman, Wayne LaPierre, who categorically rejected any control on the size of magazines, the availability of assault weapons and common sense background checks.
As an immigrant, I had to undergo fingerprinting, checks on any criminal background, arrest records, affiliations with any totalitarian or communist regime and dozens of other checks, just to become a resident in the United States. It cost me a lot more than ten thousand dollars. Yet, as an immigrant, without papers, if I had wanted to buy a gun, I could have walked into a gun show and walked off with an assault weapon and tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition. All that is required is cash, check or credit card.
If I had been released from prison, or from the local sanitorium for the mentally deranged, I could have gone into that same gun show and walked off with any weapon I wanted. The extremists on the right refuse even the most common sense checks on people. That a young man can walk around armed with an assault weapon, with no training, no licensing, no restriction on ammunition is beyond the bounds of sanity.
LaPierre believes that even if a background check identified a criminal, that criminal could still get to the next crime scene. Quite so, but he would get there without a weapon. The fewer weapons available to people, the fewer people will die. Clearly, if the criminal had not been able to get the weapon, the background check worked, and that is the point of the exercise. LaPierre was clearly not endowed by his maker with intellectual rigor.
Gabby Gifford was far more invested in the process, saying, “Too many children are dying, we must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now”. The time is now, but I am willing to lay odds that very little will come of the massacre in Newtown. The Senate will put through diluted legislation that will have no effect on the continuing violence in this country, and in a few years, the gun extremists will point to the figures and claim that gun control does not work.
Republicans have shown little or no interest in gun control, claiming that control only inhibits the activities of law-abiding citizens. The fact is that there is no way to know whether someone buying a gun is criminally minded or not. The only sure-fire way to make sure that criminals are unable to buy weapons of mass destruction is to ban their sale. Nothing else will work.
I cannot see that any law-abiding citizen has any reason whatsoever to buy an assault weapon, a high-powered rifle, or a hundred round magazine. If they are buying these things, they are bent on mass destruction, not on self-defense. If you cannot stop an intruder with a six-bullet magazine, you should not have a weapon. It is highly unlikely that you will be attacked by multiple people with assault weapons, unless you are a drug lord, in which case you probably have ways to get defensive weapons.
Republicans claim that the causes of gun violence include a lack of civility. People commit massacres because we aren’t polite to each other? Are people in other countries polite to each other? If not, do they then go on a rampage and kill a dozen people? If people are armed, it is far more likely that people will die if there is an argument. If you are not armed, you will find it very difficult to take someones life.
Another reason given is that people play violent video games, or watch violent movies. Across the world, people watch those same movies, play those same video games, and they do not go on murderous rampages with assault weapons. In fact, it is in those countries that have little or no access to violent movies or video games, mostly in the poorest parts of Africa where gun crimes are most common. In countries like Sierra Leone, children are forced to become soldiers, armed with assault weapons and go on to wreak havoc on civilian populations. They have no TV’s or video game consoles.
The next excuse given for gun violence is mental illness, but research shows that only about 4% of all violent crimes are committed by the mentally ill. Conservatives want only to target and marginalize those with debilitating diseases like depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder. The impact on gun violence would be negligible, and only serve to return society to a state of paranoia over mental illness.
Sen. Charles Grassley said that the deaths in Newtown should not be used to put forward any gun control legislation that has been floating around for years. If this massacre of twenty children is insufficient to induce this Congress to introduce common sense gun control, what will induce them to do so? How many more people must die before they act? Over the past thirty years, a million people have died in this country because of guns. At what point do we call this genocide? At what point do we recognise guns as weapons of mass destruction, that in this country have killed more people than the two atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima?
Sen Charles Schumer, said that not discussing gun limits is like not including cigarettes when discussing lung cancer. Conservatives are doing everything that they can to avoid discussing the one thing that will make a difference, and that is limiting access to guns. At this point, I would limit all guns, to anyone, but that is unlikely to happen.
Even those Democrats that support background checks only support them for criminals and the mentally insane. yet most gun crimes are not committed by those groups. Gun crimes are committed mostly by young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six. Perhaps we should limit sales to that demographic. Perhaps you should have to be thirty before you can buy a weapon.
Sen Patrick Leahy introduced a bill that would criminalize purchasing a gun for someone not permitted to have one. That again may help, but as long as these weapons are available at all, criminals will get their hands on them. The only way to deal with this is ban the guns, and buy back all weapons, as they did in Australia after their gun massacre. The death rate has plummeted in Australia subsequent to their ban.
Gun rights activist, Gayle Trotter testified that as a young woman, she should be able to defend her young child. I can just imagine this young mother pushing a pram with one hand, and slinging an assault weapons with her other. Is she really going to carry her weapon wherever she goes, strapped to her side. Even sidearms are awkward to carry and inhibit free movement.
Trotter claims that she should be able to defend herself against multiple attackers. It just does not enter her head that the attackers could also be armed with assault weapons, just as she is. In fact, as more people arm themselves with these mass killing devices, it is even more likely that criminals will use them, since they know that their victims are more likely to be armed.
Weaponry is and always has been an arms race. If one person or group can obtain deadly weapons, others will too, and it will encourage people to find even more deadly weapons. No-one wins an arms race. What you need to do is stop anyone obtaining these weapons. Nothing else works.
Guns are dangerous, and far too many children have died because their parents were not responsible. Why should we trust that any woman will not leave her weapon around while she performs some task around the home? People who have guns in the home are nine times more likely to be killed with a firearm than people who live in homes without them. The statistics speak for themselves.
The most bizarre reason that I have heard lately in favor of assault weapons is that people want to defend themselves against their government. This is outrageous. There are two words for someone who is arming themselves to fight their own government, sedition and treason. These people are clearly plotting against their own government, and should be held accountable.
Conservatives refuse to tackle the problem at hand, the gun manufacturers become richer, and more people die. They believe they are the “good guys”. They are not, they are the thugs, encouraging a slow genocide, and doing nothing to stop it.
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