Will hundreds of people killed, hurt in Las Vegas matter to Trump and lawmakers?

Published on Tuesday, 3 October 2017 19:45
Written by Petula Dvorak

Maybe this time will be different. Maybe the sheer number of people killed and injured at a country music festival in Las Vegas - at least 58 dead and more than 500 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history - will finally lead to some common sense restrictions on guns.

Because the age and innocence of the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 first graders held up their hands to try and shield themselves from the gunfire in their classroom five years ago, didn’t make a difference.

Because the transformation of the bucolic Virginia Tech campus into a killing field for 32 promising young people and their professors 10 years ago didn’t make a difference.

Because the nine people gunned down by a white supremacist during a Bible study at a Charleston, South Carolina, church two years ago didn’t make a difference.

Because not even Republican lawmakers shot during a congressional baseball practice earlier this year, grievously wounding Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who was able to return to work only last week, didn’t make a difference.

President Donald Trump didn’t talk about the real American carnage at his inauguration, which happens before our eyes every day. This year alone, more than 11,700 people have been killed by gunfire. As my colleague, John Woodrow Cox, reported last month, almost dozen children are shot every day in the United States.

But those with the power to stop the killing have no interest in doing so.

“I will never, ever infringe on the right of people to keep and bear arms,” our president vowed in a speech to the National Rifle Association at their national conference this year.

The NRA spent three times as much on political ads for Trump as it did for Mitt Romney in 2012, according to a Washington Post analysis. The president couldn’t wait to thank the NRA, assuring its members that “The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.”

Let’s be clear on what those “assaults” have been.

More than 100 gun control proposals have been introduced in Congress since then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., took a bullet to the head while meeting constituents outside an Tucson grocery store in 2011. And no, none of them infringed on the right of responsible gun owners to keep and bear arms.

This is was those so-called assaults have been:

n Keeping folks on the terrorist watch list from getting guns.

n Asking dealers at gun shows to observe the same, legal requirements for background checks that all licensed dealers currently abide by.

n Banning the manufacture and sale of magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition, hardware designed for no other purpose than to kill people outside a grocery store, massacre Batman fans in a movie theater, or rip apart the bodies of first graders in a classroom.

It’s too easy in this divisive, political climate to simplify any attempts to save thousands of lives as “assaults.” Any politician who wants to consider curbing about 25,000 gunfire injuries is called a “gun grabber” and is misrepresented and vilified by the highly researched attacks and misconstrued fears that the NRA manufactures.

Every time, the gun rights advocates shift the blame for these breathtaking displays of violence. It’s mental illness, they’ll say. It’s domestic violence. It’s racism. It’s allegiance to ISIS. It’s simple evil.

Yet there is only one thing these mass shootings all have in common - guns.

Paddock would not have been able to kill 50 people with a knife.

Gun rights advocates will argue that a third of the gunmen in mass shootings shouldn’t have had weapons under existing regulations. And that’s true.

But what about the other two-thirds? Shouldn’t we make it harder for them to destroy lives? To turn a country music concert into a shooting range?

Petula is a columnist for The Washington Post’s local team.

At this point, Americans should have had enough. It’s time for our lawmakers and our president stop listening to the NRA and start listening to us. It’s time for common sense - not manufactured fear - to make a difference.

who writes about homeless shelters, gun control, high heels, high school choirs, the politics of parenting, jails, abortion clinics, mayors, modern families, strip clubs and gas prices, among other things.



Posted in New Britain Herald, Editorials on Tuesday, 3 October 2017 19:45. Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2017 19:48.