May 29, 2024

COLUMN: This is a Republican problem

It’s time to call it for what it is. A major reason America’s children are being slaughtered in their schools by high powered rifles is because Congress fails to pass gun control legislation. Democrats try year after year to pass gun safety bills. They try to ban assault weapons and magazines holding hundreds of bullets. They try to pass strict background checks, Red Flag laws and laws to prevent selling guns privately and at gun shows with no registration requirement. Republicans will not support any of these measures.

Republicans won’t vote for gun control legislation for three main reasons: They receive hefty campaign contributions from NRA and gun manufacturers. They’re afraid of being voted out of office by their gun-loving constituents. They honor Second Amendment rights above all other Constitutional rights.

This obsession with the Second Amendment is ridiculous. The amendment reads. “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Second Amendment devotees always ignore the first four words, “A well-regulated Militia,” plus, they are not interpreting the amendment correctly. The Constitution was written at a time when there was no police force. There was no National Guard. It stands to reason citizens were given the right to keep and bear arms; if threatened, they were the militia. Today, if we need protection, we call the police. If government officials determine a crowd is getting too threatening, they send in the National Guard. They don’t call on individual citizens to come out and lend help with their guns.

Doing nothing about gun violence is unacceptable. There have been 130 mass shootings just since Jan. 1. The number one cause of death of American children and teens is gunshot wounds. Sixty-three percent of Americans want more gun controls. Republicans always fall back on the excuse that gun violence is a mental-health problem; which by the way, they don’t fund adequately. They call for more security to barricade children inside their school buildings. Republicans’ lamest excuse for inaction? “We’ve already done about all that can be done.”

Republican Sen. Rick Scott, Fl, suggested the way to stop mass shootings is to reinstate the death penalty. Everyone knows the death penalty won’t help. Shooters plan on not surviving. They’re committing suicide by police, or they kill themselves before getting caught.

It makes this crisis much worse because some elected officials are obsessed with their guns. GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert (CO), and Rep. Andy Ogles (TN), each sent Christmas cards showing every member of their family proudly holding a gun. After the shooting at Covenant, Tennessee’s Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn announced she “stands ready to assist and prays for all those affected.” She got an angry response on Twitter, “You’ve received $1,306,120 in donations from the NRA, and you voted against the most recent bipartisan gun package.” Blackburn has never supported gun control legislation, invariably citing her loyalty to the Second Amendment.

Republican Sen. Steve Scalise ( LA), a former shooting victim himself, was asked if there was anything Congress should be doing about gun violence. His reply, “First of all, I pray for the victims. I get angry when I see people trying to politicize it for their own personal agenda. They always want to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Let’s see what the facts are first. Let’s see what we can do to help secure the schools. We’ve talked about the need to improve mental health.”

In regard to mental health, the Nashville shooter was under a doctor’s care for emotional distress, but with no Red Flag laws, could still legally purchase seven high-powered guns.

America is awash with guns. There are more than 400 million guns in America; more guns than people. Forty percent own guns. Sixteen million people own at least one AR-15 assault rifle – a lethal weapon produced for combat, not for civilian use.

The idea that guns are carried openly on the streets in several red states is obscene. Iowa doesn’t even require a permit to open carry. I saw a photo recently of a guy with an AR-15 strapped across his back while standing in line to buy a can of pop at a convenience store.

This is just sick.