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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Earlier this week (June 22), John Lewis, Georgia congressman and civil rights icon, helped his Democratic colleagues revive some old tactics for a righteous cause: fighting the gun lobby. They staged a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives to demand a vote on commonsense gun control measures.

Their protest didn’t work, but that shouldn’t be counted as defeat. Lewis and fellow Democrats — who even sang, with slightly revised lyrics, the old standby “We Shall Overcome” — succeeded in highlighting the cruel and crazy intransigence of the gun lobby and its claque of political water-carriers. In an election season, that gives the forces of sanity a fighting chance.

Not that change will come quickly — any more than it did during the civil rights movement. The nation is mired in an odd space, a wretched and twisted place where reason is stunted, conspiracy rages and fanaticism rules. Even as the blood of gun victims flows from schoolyards and nightclubs and churches, the firearms fanatics insist on more — more! — weapons, more ammunition, more havoc.

Most Americans, sensibly, disagree. A CBS/Washington Post poll conducted in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting showed that 57 percent of Americans favor a ban on assault-type weapons, which were originally designed for battlefields. A 2015 poll by Johns Hopkins found that 60 percent support a ban on high-capacity magazines. But public sentiment is overwhelmed by the relentless lobbying, the conspiratorial fear-mongering and the merciless campaign tactics of the gun lobby, which targets legislators, savages critics and pillories even supporters who stray from the hard line.

So the body count grows.

Using statistics compiled by Mother Jones magazine, which has amassed an authoritative database, I counted 29 mass shootings that claimed four or more victims during President Barack Obama’s tenure alone. (While there is no universally accepted definition of “mass shooting,” Mother Jones excludes conventional crimes, such as robberies and gang warfare.) The latest, in Orlando, was also the bloodiest.

Yet the National Rifle Association and its allies resist even the most reasonable and least intrusive measures to improve gun safety. They not only vehemently oppose bills to prevent suspected terrorists from buying firearms or to strengthen background checks; they have also waged all-out war against promising new “smart gun” technology that would allow a gun to be fired only by an authorized user.

Why? Why not employ biometrics to make sure a toddler doesn’t fire Daddy’s gun or a thief doesn’t steal weapons to use in a later crime?

It’s not at all clear how we arrived at this desperate and demented era. In the future, historians will undoubtedly dedicate volumes of research to untangling the cultural, political, legal and social forces that have conspired to lock us into this awful place.

We are not mired in this madness by the Second Amendment (though it has been wretchedly misinterpreted in recent times by right-wing courts). The right to bear arms was enshrined long before machine guns were banned, decades ago, or assault-type weapons temporarily banned in the 1990s. Yet, those measures, which could not pass through Congress today, were sustained in earlier times.

And it’s not our frontier past, either. Australia shares a rough-and-ready frontier heritage, but its citizens were so revolted by a mass shooting in 1996 that they readily accepted strict new gun laws, including a ban on certain semiautomatic weapons. Since then, gun violence overall has dropped precipitously, and there have been no mass shootings.

The simple truth is that those gun advocates who insist that reverence for firearms is encoded in our DNA are engaging in convenient myth-making. In my childhood, my father and his friends enjoyed hunting game as a pastime, but they would never have demanded the right to carry firearms inside houses of worship. They didn’t hunt with AR-15s. They didn’t believe they should have high-capacity magazines on hand to hunt deer.

This ferocious and paranoid insistence on arming every man, woman and child is of a more recent vintage, dating back to the 1970s, when the National Rifle Association became unhinged. The fever will break eventually, the virus will be expunged, the political climate receptive to sensible gun measures.

Already, we’re seeing signs that the body politic is fighting the infection. Democrats are standing up to the gun lobby.

 

(Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.)

Photo: Handguns are seen for sale in a display case at Metro Shooting Supplies in Bridgeton, Missouri, November 13, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

15 Responses to Democrats At Last Stand Up To The Gun Lobby

  1. The Democrats have always despised the 2nd Amendment so no real headline news here. The only difference is that they feel a bit more sporty having a radical leader in place in Obama, who not only hates the 2nd amendment, but despises the entire Bill Of Rights which he has stated previously as being a hindrance to his quest of ramrodding his extreme visions for America down our throats. The tide is turning, however, as “we the people” have finally had enough….the British vote was only the first wave of many that will sweep the effete, arrogant elitists aside. Hillary Clinton is about to feel that wave hit her in a major way…
    Make America Great Again!

    • Sad Astroturfer is sad.
      Notice how he always avoids the actual point and goes straight to words like “hate” and “radical” and “ramrodding”.
      I think he’s trying to tell us something.

      So if you want to make sad Astroturfer AgLander happy, please tell him you’ll “ramrod” him any time he likes.
      Spread the love!

      Don’t worry… I’ll ramrod you, buddy!

      • Don’t worry… I’ll ramrod you, buddy!

        Still pretending to be tough? It’s easy behind a keyboard, as you well know.

  2. Common sense notwithstanding, the fact is that the poor syntax in the 2nd Amendment leads to different interpretations of its meaning. High among them is the right of all Americans to own guns.
    It takes courage for a few elected officials to stand up against a culture where even the killing of innocent children is an acceptable price to pay, if that is what it takes to acquire a placebo to mitigate our fears and insecurities.
    The fact that, with the exception of countries engulfed in civil war and civil unrest, we are the most violent nation in the world, makes absolutely no difference to those who are convinced that the answer is to acquire more lethal weapons, and arm everyone, so that we can defend ourselves against those whose right to bear arms we defend.
    When elected officials go as far as supporting the right of criminals on a terrorist watch list, and a no fly list, to bear arms, it is clear that sit ins and other civic demonstrations of common sense and humanity are a huge waste of time. Guns, and violent crime, are a part of our culture, and they are not going to go away. We might as well accept it, and live with it.

    • When it comes to violent crime, the US isn’t even in the top half of all nations. That’s the problem with so many on the Left, they hear or read talking points from the media propagandist’s and repeat them as if they are true, without doing any real research. And as far as your comment about killing innocent children, poppycock. Fing abortion kills far more innocent kids than guns EVER will.

      The 2nd Amendment is quite easy to understand, all it requires is some understanding of the words of the time and how well the Constitution was written. The Constitution provided for an Army and a Navy. They didn’t need to add an amendment to arm them. That argument is idiotic (not that you said it, others have). Militia’s, in that day and age were made up OF the PEOPLE. Your ilk want’s to equate the National Guard as the modern day militia, which is also a line of propaganda BS. The NG has long been Federalized and is no longer just a State asset. The PEOPLE are still the militia. Should this country ever be invaded and the regular and part time military severely weakened, the people will be the last line of defense.

      The lame attack on AR type weapons, they are not assault weapons, is also proof that Democrats have no desire to quell gun violence. If that had any legitimacy they would go after handguns and gangbangers, In 2014, of the 8124 murders using a firearm, only 248 were done with rifles, and the AR types are just a subset. Handguns were used 5562 times that year. Basically, take away the gangbanger shootings and suicides (which would occur without guns) and as a people we have a 0.0005417721518987342 percent chance of being killed with a gun. While the media won’t tell anyone this, the FBI stats are pretty decent at getting facts out, unlike the Liberal media and your fellow Liberal’s

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