It should have happened after Sandy Hook, after tiny children were executed with an assault rifle in their own classrooms. But no. A serious conversation about gun control should have taken place, but no. Our elected officials said “now is not the time to talk about this”. And as it always happens, it turned out that they forgot to find a time even after all of the funerals with teddy bears were over. The time to have a rational conversation just never came. It never does. Congress did not do anything at all about the fact that babies had been slaughtered with a high powered rifle in their own school. They talked a good game, but they lied about their intention to do anything to curb gun violence. The Mitch McConnells in Washington know that their real position on gun control is utterly unconscionable, so they don’t utter it. They can’t. Instead they pretend to be the stewards of our public safety while they allow the NRA to threaten and intimidate them into making sure that NO PROGRESS IS MADE towards reasonable gun laws in our country. They take money from the NRA. They do the NRA’s bidding. And the deadly results on our streets, in our schools, at our airports, in our nightclubs… are painfully visible every time you turn on the news.
None of us have clean hands when it comes to the gun violence that plagues America. The Democrats have mostly been silent about gun control for the past couple of decades. Joe Manchin, who is honest and has more integrity than most in Congress, is a darling of the NRA and should be made to answer for that. Even Bernie Sanders has had a good NRA record at times. But let’s be clear, it is almost entirely Republicans in congress that are standing in the way of common sense gun control laws. They applauded in Feb. when the president reversed the 2016 regulation making it harder for mentally ill people to buy guns and are working right now to overturn the ban on silencers for guns. I’m sorry, but that is not making us safer. Republicans are on the wrong side of this issue if the goal is to keep our streets safer.
My wife thinks that they should broadcast the crime scene photos from Sandy Hook so that the people standing in the way of progress on gun control legislation would have to see the carnage, so that they would have to see what an assault rifle does to a 7-year old child when put in the hands of a madman. I think maybe she’s right. Maybe it has come to that. Maybe Americans need to see that horror in order to be shaken out of our numbness. Eisenhower marched the adults from the surrounding towns through liberated concentration camps so they could see the horror they’d allowed by turning a blind eye. They were complicit. Maybe Americans need to own this in the same way.
American politicians don’t do thoughtful grown-up conversation. As we recently observed with the healthcare debacle debate, there was nothing close to a rational debate about healthcare. It was just ridiculous politicians spinning and dodging. Nothing more than screaming partisans. Nobody seriously discussed the real issues of our healthcare system. We’re seeing it already with the “tax-reform” push. Smoke and mirrors. And the same goes for gun control. No serious national conversation has been had in decades about gun control. The Australians had a serious grown-up conversation about the direction of their country and who they wanted to be. But not us. Nope. The NRA and their mostly red-state supporters will push for armed guards on top of every hotel in Vegas now, just like they said that arming teachers was the solution to Sandy Hook. A few Right Wingnuts on the fringe even say that Sandy Hook was hoax. No serious grown-up conversation ever happens about guns. The Sandy Hook parents tried to affect change, they went to Capitol Hill where the politicians pretended to have their backs, but in the end they were ignored.
It is a very disappointing time to be an American. At least for me. It seems that we Americans are too dim, too angry, too blinded by the glare of our smartphone screens to be able to think and converse like rational humans. Of course 350 Million people will never agree 100% on anything, but what would it take just to get to the point where we can have a serious conversation? Perhaps it is right that the rest of the world is starting to see the U.S. as a bunch of idiots. Maybe they are right to stop seeing us as the leaders of the free world, as we’ve been viewed until now. Clearly we’re not grown-up enough to be the leaders anymore. That’s about all that is clear right now, with the smoke of the gunpowder still blurring our vision.