[Speaking Truth To Power]
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama introduced a number of initiatives to combat the scourge of gun violence plaguing the country—especially in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre in Newton, Connecticut.
But given the influence of the NRA gun lobby in Washington, will Congress finally act by implementing sensible gun legislation to stem the tide of blood that is now flowing in America?
Around noon, Wednesday, President Obama revealed multiple measures he plans to incorporate into legislation he will introduce next week to curb current levels of gun violence that has brought the gun control debate to the forefront of American politics.
At the White House meeting, the president was joined by Vice President Joe Biden as well as family members and children who were affected by the killing of 27 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut last December 14. The president’s recommendations came days after Vice President Joe Biden’s task force examining gun violence concluded. The task force, initiated by President Obama, spoke to people on all sides of the gun control, gun rights, and gun violence divide.
Among the actions the president is pursuing are enhanced processes for background checks on gun purchases, a ban on new assault weapons, restrictions on high-capacity magazines and more rigorous gun trafficking laws to stem the flow of weapons. The president also issued a number of executive actions devised to intensify the enforcement of current gun laws, revamp the process of information sharing between federal agencies to prevent criminals from obtaining guns, and pushing for funding to strengthen mental health services in schools.
In his remarks, the president admitted average Americans are the only ones who can change the situation of gun violence. “I tell you, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it,” Mr. Obama said. “And, by the way, that doesn’t just mean from certain parts of the country. We’re going to need voices in those areas, in those Congressional districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong, to speak up and say it’s important.”
Indeed, the time has come for Americans to pressure politicians to seriously address the culture of guns and violence that is afflicting the country. Predictably, some people on Capitol Hill are trying to evade their responsibility to protect the citizens they often claim to represent. The main initiatives President Obama is proposing are no-brainers. How’s it possible 40 percent of gun purchases are done without any background check? What’s the purpose for allowing military assault weapons to flood the streets of America? Shouldn’t clips carrying more than seven bullets always be banned?
For the past weeks, politicians on Capitol Hill have been telling us it’s too difficult to pass legislation banning assault weapons and multi-bullet clips—even in the wake of the killing of 20 children in Connecticut. What kind of do-nothing Congress is this that won’t even act to protect American children? Many people cry about the need to defend the Second Amendment and right-wing conspiracy kooks claim there’s a government plot afoot to take away the gun rights of regular citizens.
This delusion is surely useful for the NRA and those Beltway politicians who line their pockets with money from the gun manufacturing lobby. The notion the government wants to take away the guns of Americans when gun manufacturers control so many politicians—by stuffing their bank accounts with money—makes a mockery of such a silly notion.
The making of guns and weaponry is big business domestically—and in the foreign arena—and the American government has benefitted from this arrangement. Each year, American gun and weapon manufacturers make billions in domestic gun sales. And in 2011, they made $66.3 billion in overseas weapons sales, which accounted for three-quarters of the world’s weapons market.
Why would anyone think Washington would cripple big business gun manufacturers?
The cowardly response of Congress to introduce necessary gun legislation is instructive of this reality and our warped priorities as a nation where we put profits over people. The refusal of politicians in Washington to step up to the plate here has everything to do with protecting the profit margins of gun makers and nothing to do with protecting the Second Amendment as many claim.
What we’re witnessing here is a set of gutless, greedy, career politicians who’re willing to sacrifice the lives of children so those who make weaponry can continue to maximize their money-making enterprise.
The NRA claim they’re being unfairly attacked and say gun proliferation isn’t the real problem. According to them, the guilty culprits of America’s culture of violence are Hollywood and video games. There’s no doubt the nation has been desensitized to violence, partially, by what we witness on television and on video games.
But has a video game ever shot anyone down dead like these military-style assault rifles? Yet while the NRA spews this illogical nonsense they have the gall to call the president a hypocrite. The fact is although there are other dynamics America must address if the nation is serious about changing the culture of violence, controlling the massively destructive power of assault weapons is a sensible starting point.
Some have stated the problem of violence in America is complex and deserves a comprehensive analysis to understand the roots of the current crisis of homegrown violence. But to really do this Americans must finally, truthfully, confront the brutal history of violence that was present at the genesis of this country when it started as thirteen colonies. Therefore, America must, eventually, reconcile itself with the brutality that was perpetrated when millions of Native Americans were massacred and millions of African slaves were forced into the fields of plantation slavery. It will have to examine the post-slavery rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the lynching era, and the many wars of imperialism since then. And the national domestic terrorism many African-Americans face today at the hands of those who have taken a pledge “to protect and serve” must be denounced. Moreover, Americans must investigate and question Washington’s foreign policy which globally exports murder and mayhem to lands where other people’s children are also killed.
That conversation must be pursued by the American people. Capitol Hill doesn’t have the moral standing or credibility to spearhead such a conversation. Often we teach children conflict resolution skills that tell them to try hard to settle disputes peacefully.
But don’t our leaders undercut that message with the belligerent bulling behavior they exhibit when they’re always threatening to bomb somebody’s country? Unfortunately, if the specter of domestic gun violence is to be tackled in any meaningful way public outrage must be channeled into changing Washington’s connection to the gun lobby and their big money.
“Speaking Truth To Empower.”