Thoughts and prayers

Published 8:45 am Friday, March 22, 2019

If there is any question that the anger of Americans over a Congress solely attuned to the whims of the special interests of Big Pharm, giant Boeing, Banking titans, and the NRA are well founded, one need only look to the failure of Congress to respond to American citizens on responsible gun control.

With the nation plagued by needless, hate-inspired mass killings of innocents, the mantra of the National Rifle Association and its lemming-like congressional supporters is the oh-so-insincere angst that those who have lost loved ones to the rapid-fire bullets of military assault weapons are offered, “thoughts and prayers.”

But the thoughts and prayers of the NRA are to sell more guns and more bullets, not to stop the epidemic that is the “American carnage” at the hands of those armed with the murderous weapons our society has allowed them to possess and use to murder innocent children and adults without response.

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And those in Congress who stand beside the dastardly mission of the NRA are little more than an echo chamber paid with campaign contributions by the authors of the argument that the more guns, the less violence. Or the equally-flawed argument that the Second Amendment makes it impossible to stop the spread of weapons of mass murder so the Congress only saying  again, “thoughts and prayers” is all that is possible.

But the arguments fall flat and are similar to arguing against vaccinations that save lives. Before the measles vaccination in 1963, four million to five million people were infected each year, and 400 and 500 people died annually from the measles. But once the vaccination was in place measles in America were almost eliminated entirely. The gun lobby is measles before vaccination. It is not that there is not a cure, it is that too many congressmen and women do not want the vaccination used.

There is no “right” to any weapon one wishes to possess. You do not have, for example, the right to buy a tank to defend yourself, or a nuclear weapon to guard your home. Justice Antonin Scalia, in the landmark Heller case, noted that the Second Amendment did not grant “a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever.”

As for the more guns, the safer the nation, that argument is laughable. America has six times as many homicides deaths as Canada and sixteen times more than Germany, and the most of any industrialized nation. More guns simply mean more deaths by guns.

In every poll taken, a majority of Americans want more gun restrictions and universal background checks. In A 2018 ABC News/ Washington Post poll, 71 percent of Americans thought Congress is not doing enough to prevent mass shootings. Yet Congress remains firmly arm in arm with the gun merchants at the NRA.

Last week, New Zealand experienced a horrific mass murder event, one that changed their perceptions about guns almost instantly. This week, the prime minister announced there will be an assault weapons buyback, a ban on military-type weapons, additional registration requirements and penalties for those who violate the new laws. Much like Australia, a nation who responded similarly in 1996 after a mass shooting, New Zealand quickly saw the link between guns and violence.

There is a vaccine for mass shootings, it is gun control legislation. Americans want the vaccine and our representatives are standing in the way. It is long past time to shun the NRA donations in favor of the voters.