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Danziger: This Is Not A Drill

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

Most Americans Want Stronger Gun Safety Laws

poll released Wednesday by The Economist/YouGov found massive support in America for a number of provisions to keep people safe from gun violence.

The results run contrary to the positions of many Republicans, as well as their allies in the NRA, who oppose virtually all gun safety legislation.

Most Americans told the pollsters they want Congress to act to reduce gun violence. Sixty-four percent said that the legislature should pass such measures, as Democrats have done in the House.

Fifty-seven percent said they believe that the Senate should come back from its summer recess to work on gun issues. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rejected such requests and derided calls for gun reform as merely “theatrics.”

On individual gun issues, Americans showed massive support for a host of provisions:

  • 78 percent support enhanced background checks, including for gun show purchases;
  • 59 percent of those asked said they support a ban on semi-automatic weapons;
  • 65 percent support a ban on high-capacity gun magazines;
  • 73 percent support a five-day waiting period on handgun purchases;
  • 66 percent support requiring gun owners to register their weapons;
  • 52 percent support a limit on the number of handguns a person can own;
  • 55 percent back requiring a police permit before buying a gun; and
  • 51 percent support allowing the Centers for Disease Control to do research on gun violence.

Democrats have backed nearly all of the issues that received such strong support. The NRA and their allies within the Republican Party have consistently blockaded the issues, despite sustained public support.

After Democrats took over the House after the 2018 elections, they passed H.R. 8, which strengthened background checks. McConnell has not allowed the measure to be voted on in the Senate, despite support from hundreds of mayors and police chiefs.

Most of the Democratic candidates running for the 2020 presidential nomination have expressed support for some sort of a ban on assault weapons, and they all back enhanced background checks.

After the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, many Republicans, including Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, laid the blame for the shootings on violent video games with no evidence.

Other key Republican figures echoed the atmosphere of inaction in the days following the attacks.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) flatly stated after the shootings he had no interest in gun violence prevention.

“I don’t support gun control,” Gardner said, despite the coast-to-coast public outcry that has followed the shootings.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) chose to blame “mental health” for the shootings, but experts have repeatedly made clear that doing so is without merit.

Other nations have mental health issues and video games, but they do not have the problems with mass shootings that are so prevalent in America.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

A Glimmer Of Hope In the Struggle For Gun Safety

Late last month, the United States recorded yet another mass shooting. This one took place on a Friday afternoon in Virginia Beach, when a not-so-civil servant mowed down several of his co-workers at a municipal building. The shooter killed 12 people before he was shot dead in a gun battle with police.

That sort of atrocity is now commonplace in this country, too frequent an occurrence to command more than a few days’ attention outside the community in which it occurs. The U.S. has less than five percent of the world’s population, but we account for nearly a third of the world’s mass shootings. Another month, another attack by a deranged gunman in the land of the free and the home of the armed.

But this shooting was followed by something not yet commonplace but becoming more frequent: A few days later, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, called a special session of the legislature to take up gun control measures. That action not only gave urgency to his proposals but also put Northam under the white-hot scrutiny of a disapproving gun lobby — a place that most politicians, especially in purple states such as Virginia, had spent decades avoiding.

Ever so slowly, in fits and starts, the political landscape around the push for sensible gun laws is changing. Finally. The National Rifle Association and its allies are losing their iron grip on Congress and state legislatures around the country. Fewer politicians fear the wrath of the gun lobby.

Credit goes largely to the young activists who took the stage after the February 2018 massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 students and staff dead. Student leaders refused to settle for the “thoughts and prayers” that had become the familiar refuge of elected “leaders” too timid to push for serious gun control measures. The students marched on Washington, staged demonstrations around the country, took to television commentary shows and endured the mockery of right-wing talking heads.

Their efforts — aided by gun control groups such as the Giffords Law Center, named for former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), a mass shooting survivor and gun control activist — have changed the legislative climate. Last year, for the first time in several years, state legislatures around the country passed more gun control measures than pro-firearms proposals pushed by the gun lobby, according to The New York Times.

The students’ activism was also assisted by the NRA’s own self-inflicted meltdown, the result of years of grift and self-enrichment by its leaders. Continually peddling dire warnings of a pending confiscation of firearms by an autocratic government, the NRA has raised hundreds of millions from frightened gun owners persuaded that “jack-booted” government thugs were waiting to seize their weapons. But its principals used much of that money to support lavish lifestyles, and the organization is now struggling financially, according to published reports.

That changed climate has given Northam some room in which to maneuver. As recently as 2007, the Virginia Legislature refused to pass a relatively toothless gun control measure in the wake of a mass shooting that took the lives of 32 people at Virginia Tech. Republicans, assisted by a couple of Democrats, bottled up a bill that would have required mandatory background checks for firearms sales at gun shows. This time, however, Northam may be able to get a bill passed. Noting the shifting landscape, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who was the state’s governor back then, said Democrats now “run using gun safety as an offensive issue,” rather than trying to hide from it or deflect, as they once did.

That doesn’t mean that we will relinquish our leadership in mass shootings anytime soon. There are more civilian-owned guns than people in the U.S., according to the Small Arms Survey — about 327 million people, about 393 million firearms. We own 42 percent of the world’s guns, enough to guarantee that the havoc will continue for some time.

But thanks to some courageous young Americans, we may have found our way back toward sanity. Their future may be a safer place.

IMAGE: Emma Gonzalez, a student and survivor of the Parkland speaks at the first-ever March for Our Lives to demand stricter gun control laws on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. Photo by Olivier Douliery/ Abaca(Sipa via AP Images)

Danziger: Don’t Get Used To It

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.