|Gabby and Mark after meeting with Newtown residents.|
In response to a horrific series of shootings that has sown terror in our communities, victimized tens of thousands of Americans, and left one of its own bleeding and near death in a Tucson parking lot, Congress has done something quite extraordinary — nothing at all.
I was shot in the head while meeting with constituents two years ago today. Since then, my extensive rehabilitation has brought excitement and gratitude to our family. But time and time again, our joy has been diminished by new, all too familiar images of death on television: the breaking news alert, stunned witnesses blinking away tears over unspeakable carnage, another community in mourning. America has seen an astounding 11 mass shootings since a madman used a semiautomatic pistol with an extended ammunition clip to shoot me and kill six others. Gun violence kills more than 30,000 Americans annually.
This country is known for using its determination and ingenuity to solve problems, big and small. Wise policy has conquered disease, protected us from dangerous products and substances, and made transportation safer. But when it comes to protecting our communities from gun violence, we're not even trying — and for the worst of reasons.
An ideological fringe
Special interests purporting to represent gun owners but really advancing the interests of an ideological fringe have used big money and influence to cow Congress into submission. Rather than working to find the balance between our rights and the regulation of a dangerous product, these groups have cast simple protections for our communities as existential threats to individual liberties. Rather than conducting a dialogue, they threaten those who divert from their orthodoxy with political extinction.
As a result, we are more vulnerable to gun violence. Weapons designed for the battlefield have a home in our streets. Criminals and the mentally ill can easily purchase guns by avoiding background checks. Firearm accessories designed for killing at a high rate are legal and widely available. And gun owners are less responsible for the misuse of their weapons than they are for their automobiles.
Forget the boogeyman of big, bad government coming to dispossess you of your firearms. As a Western woman and a Persian Gulf War combat veteran who have exercised our Second Amendment rights, we don't want to take away your guns any more than we want to give up the two guns we have locked in a safe at home. What we do want is what the majority of NRA members and other Americans want: responsible changes in our laws to require responsible gun ownership and reduce gun violence.
We saw from the NRA leadership's defiant and unsympathetic response to the Newtown, Conn., massacre that winning even the most common-sense reforms will require a fight. But whether it has been in campaigns or in Congress, in combat or in space, fighting for what we believe in has always been what we do.
(There is a bit more which you can read at the USA Today site, Here is a link to the website that Gabby and Mark have launched asking people to get involved.)
I have to believe that THIS is the very thing that the NRA and the gun nuts feared the most.
It is one thing to take on the big bad government that they claim are coming to take away your guns, and quite another to fight such a sympathetic figure who simply wants to have intelligent effective gun control laws put in place.
Now there is no clear indication that Gabby and Mark are working with the administration (And perhaps they want it that way,), but it is striking that this weekend there were leaks from Joe Biden's task force that put the gun enthusiasts on high alert:
News that the White House is considering significant gun control legislation in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. elementary school shooting is music to the ears of gun control advocates, who have waited decades for a serious conversation about guns. But it’s also being welcomed by gun rights groups, who say leaks from the Biden task force are just the thing to push their flock back into the fight.
“[The article] was a Molotov cocktail right into the middle of this thing,” Dave Workman, a former board member at the National Rifle Association, told TPM Monday. “That lit the fuse, it really did.”
Now see THIS is the battle the gun nuts want to have, but they if they believe they are going to get support from the more rational Americans they are really NOT paying attention.
Just this morning on Morning Joe retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who is hawking a new book, came out in favor of more gun control laws as well:
"I spent a career carrying typically either a M16, and later a M4 carbine," he said. "And a M4 carbine fires a .223 caliber round, which is 5.56 millimeters, at about 3,000 feet per second. When it hits a human body, the effects are devastating. It's designed to do that. That's what our soldiers ought to carry."
Said McChrystal, "I personally don't think there's any need for that kind of weaponry on the streets and particularly around the schools in America. I believe that we've got to take a serious look -- I understand everybody's desire to have whatever they want -- but we have to protect our children and our police and we have to protect our population. And I think we have to take a very mature look at that."
But hey, to be fair the Gun nuts have their own supporters as well.
Why just yesterday CNN's Piers Morgan attempted to interview the guy behind the "Deport Piers Morgan" campaign.
(Now if you have not yet had your anti-lunatic shots, you might want to get them before watching this clip. I mean this is Alex Jones, and crazy is his bread and butter.)
Well now there you go, both sides of the debate clearly laid out.The "We need more comprehensive gun laws to protect our citizens" side vs the "You commie motherf**kers will get my guns over my corpulent dead body!" side.
Wow! That's a lot of crazy for this early in the morning!