It has not even been a month since this nation’s collective heart was broken by the slaughter of the innocents in Newtown, Connecticut. Policy makers around the country are mulling over ideas on how to stop incidents like that from happening again.
Vice-president Joe Biden is heading up a task force to recommend solutions to stop this unnecessary violence that has ruined far too many lives. That group is set to report its suggestions to the president this month.
Early on it looked as though there might be a window this year for Congress to act. Many Congressmen made statements in the hours after Newtown indicting a willingness to re-visit laws on gun registration, gun show loopholes, and high capacity clips. Some even suggested assault weapons should be on the table. Those statements have been drowned out by “read my lips, no new gun laws.”
While the task force is still working, politicians and political hacks are sounding off. While many are looking for creative solutions to stop the violence, most are firing warning shots to make sure the status quo remains intact. For every politician who suggests that our laws may need revision, three are calling for more guns even in schools.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) a gun-manufacturer-funded advocacy group has dropped the gauntlet saying there can be no changes to current laws regulating guns, not even tweaks. NRA’s spokesman Wayne LaPierre said the solution to stopping the gun violence is arming more people.
The NRA is suggesting taxpayers place armed guards in every school. What about other places where gun slaughters have occurred like movie theaters, businesses, homes, temples, churches, army bases, street corners, post offices, malls, and town hall meetings being held by a Member of Congress. Do we need armed guards there and who pays?
A NRA past-president Marion Hammer framed the debate this way saying that gun owners are “in for a massive fight like we’ve probably never seen before,” in which the government will take guns away “in order to control the masses.” Nothing riles up gun owners like conspiracy theories that big government is coming after their guns.
It is not just the hacks that are setting up the battlefield, but NRA-supported politicians as well. Newly elected Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said on Fox News that gun safety laws are “unconstitutional.” The Senator is obviously not familiar with court decisions upholding gun laws that are on the books.
The top Republican in the Senate said on the “Meet the Press” that he would look at the report of Vice-president Biden’s group when it comes forward but budget and federal spending are the top priorities of Congress.
Newly elected Democratic Senator from North Dakota Heidi Heitkamp an NRA member, said on ABC's “This Week” that the reported Obama proposals were way in the extreme and would not pass. That is telling since Obama’s proposals have not yet come forward but sight-unseen they are already too extreme. NRA supporters in Congress have their minds made up and are rejecting proposals before they even see them.
The Washington Post reported that the Biden group is looking at a whole plethora of suggestions to curb violence and certainly not confiscation of guns. These would include measures that would require universal background checks for gun buyers and track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database. The measures would also strengthen mental health checks and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors.
Even Senator Cruz said that he favored changes to the current background check system to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people. The NRA has vehemently opposed background checks and they have lobbied to keep the system slow, inefficient, and barely functional. Expect Sen. Cruz to back down from that position once LaPierre gets to him.
Anything is possible but the winds of change do not appear to be blowing in the direction of new gun violence measures in Washington. Like the weather, political opinion can change, but will it?
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