Don’t Give Up On Gun Control
The news has not been happy lately.
What with the molasses spill killing thousands of fish in Honolulu and the Syria atrocities and subsequent threat of U.S. military action, I’d had it up to here with bad news.
Then came the Washington Navy Yard shooting.
Honestly, my first thought? Here we go again.
I hate that people – we – appear to be so numbed to the horrors of these slaughters that the latest one is … just that, the latest one.
We watch in horror and then we go on with our lives. Until the next mass shooting.
And the next.
Have we finally lost the capacity to feel anything but resignation? And does anyone really believe, deep down, that Congress, the president and the American people have the will to make the changes needed to prevent this from happening again?
I used to think we did. After Sandy Hook Elementary, where 20 children and six adult staff were brutally murdered by a troubled young man with an assault rifle, I thought we would.
It’s been 10 months since those children died and Congress has not passed a single new gun-safety law.
There is no law to broaden background checks, no law to limit the size of magazines, no law to curtail sales and access to military-style assault weapons.
Here’s a fact: Most Americans want some form of gun control. But they’re not the ones wielding the loudest voices or, it’s clear, the political and financial power.
The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization committed to high quality, independent research. Brookings commissions essays on controversial subjects in order to engage the public in discussion that will help contribute to policy making.
One author, Matt Bennett, contributed an excellent and comprehensive essay, The Promise: The Families of Sandy Hook and the Long Road to Gun Safety. If you have the time, I highly recommend it.
Bennett writes, “Approximately 100 million adults live in a home with a gun. (The term ‘gun owner’ can be slippery when it comes to family-owned firearms.) They break down roughly into three groups: those who own guns mainly for sport, those who own guns for protection, and those who own guns as a bulwark against government tyranny.
“Numerous polls show that the overwhelming majority of people in the first two groups (sport shooters and home protectors) is comfortable with the kinds of common-sense restrictions on gun ownership advocated by the Sandy Hook parents. The third group, however, is made up of what we could call the ‘constitutionalists.’ Though a distinct minority, this group has come to control the terms of the gun debate, exercising a power that vastly exceeds their numbers. Their principle mechanism for wielding this power is, of course, the NRA.”
So the question is, why are Americans allowing a relatively small number of people to control our right to live safely in our homes and neighborhoods?
I want to be perfectly, crystal clear. I do not advocate banning all guns. But I say we must ask the question:
How do we, the majority who believe in sensible gun control, take back the power from the zealots?
Conclude what you will about what our current state of helplessness says about the Congress, the gun lobby, our society and our priorities.
Do I sound discouraged?
Also, disgusted and heartsick. Helpless. Angry.
But this is not the time to give up.