ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING IN AMERICA
Another massacre. This time in Allen, Texas. A shopping mall. Based on his social media activity he was probably a white supremacist. Oh, and it was carried out with another AR-15. We are getting massacres nearly every day now by angry, suicidal, violent men with AR-15s.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, a database of shootings in the United States, there have been 199 “mass shootings,” which it defines as the shooting of at least four people, in 2023. There were a particularly deadly spate of large-scale shootings this past week.
- Last weekend, a gunman killed five people in Cleveland, Texas, near Houston, after he was asked by neighbors to stop shooting in his yard. He was captured after a multiday manhunt.
- On Monday, a registered sex offender fatally shot six people, including his wife and three of her children, near Tulsa, Okla., before turning the gun on himself.
- On Wednesday, a gunman opened fire at a medical office building in Atlanta, killing one and injuring four others. That, too, led to a manhunt before the suspect was caught. (NYT)
Why? Blame Republicans. Because they deserve the blame.
THE HISTORY OF HOW THE GOP CAME TO STAND FOR UNFETTERED ACCESS TO GUNS
Historian Heather Cox Richardson has studied the history of our appalling slide towards unfettered access to weapons of war on our streets. Her Letters from an American help me understand the historical relevance of our politics today. Here are excerpts from her post about the history of this life-threatening mess in America that is affecting all of us:
The Second Amendment to the Constitution, on which modern-day arguments for widespread gun ownership rest, is one simple sentence: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” There’s not a lot to go on about what the Framers meant, although in their day, to “bear arms” meant to be part of an organized militia.
Today’s insistence that the Second Amendment gives individuals a broad right to own guns comes from two places.
One is the establishment of the National Rifle Association in New York in 1871, in part to improve the marksmanship skills of American citizens who might be called on to fight in another war, …
By the 1920s, rifle shooting was a popular American sport. “Riflemen” competed in the Olympics, in colleges, and in local, state, and national tournaments organized by the NRA. Being a good marksman was a source of pride, mentioned in public biographies, like being a good golfer. In 1925, when the secretary of the NRA apparently took money from ammunition and arms manufacturers, the organization tossed him out and sued him.
NRA officers insisted on the right of citizens to own rifles and handguns but worked hard to distinguish between law-abiding citizens who should have access to guns for hunting and target shooting and protection, and criminals and mentally ill people, who should not. In 1931, amid fears of bootlegger gangs, the NRA backed federal legislation to limit concealed weapons; prevent possession by criminals, the mentally ill and children; to require all dealers to be licensed; and to require background checks before delivery. It backed the 1934 National Firearms Act, and parts of the 1968 Gun Control Act, designed to stop what seemed to be America’s hurtle toward violence in that turbulent decade.
But in the mid-1970s a faction in the NRA forced the organization away from sports and toward opposing “gun control.” It formed a political action committee (PAC) in 1975, and two years later it elected an organization president who abandoned sporting culture and focused instead on “gun rights.”
This was the second thing that led us to where we are today: leaders of the NRA embraced the politics of Movement Conservatism, the political movement that rose to combat the business regulations and social welfare programs that both Democrats and Republicans embraced after World War II.
Movement Conservatives embraced the myth of the American cowboy as a white man standing against the “socialism” of the federal government as it sought to level the economic playing field between Black Americans and their white neighbors.
Leaders like Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater personified the American cowboy, with his cowboy hat and opposition to government regulation, while television Westerns showed good guys putting down bad guys without the interference of the government.
In 1972 the Republican platform had called for gun control to restrict the sale of “cheap handguns,” but in 1975, as he geared up to challenge President Gerald R. Ford for the 1976 presidential nomination, Movement Conservative hero Ronald Reagan took a stand against gun control. In 1980, the Republican platform opposed the federal registration of firearms, and the NRA endorsed a presidential candidate—Reagan—for the first time.
When President Reagan took office, a new American era, dominated by Movement Conservatives, began. And the power of the NRA over American politics grew.
In 1981 a gunman trying to kill Reagan shot and paralyzed his press secretary, James Brady, and wounded Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy and police officer Thomas Delahanty. After the shooting, then-representative Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced legislation that became known as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, or the Brady Bill, to require background checks before gun purchases. Reagan, who was a member of the NRA, endorsed the bill, but the NRA spent millions of dollars to defeat it.
After the Brady Bill passed in 1993, the NRA paid for lawsuits in nine states to strike it down. Until 1959, every single legal article on the Second Amendment concluded that it was not intended to guarantee individuals the right to own a gun. But in the 1970s, legal scholars funded by the NRA had begun to argue that the Second Amendment did exactly that.
In 1997, when the Brady Bill cases came before the Supreme Court as Printz v. United States, the Supreme Court declared parts of the measure unconstitutional.
Now a player in national politics, the NRA was awash in money from gun and ammunition manufacturers. By 2000 it was one of the three most powerful lobbies in Washington. It spent more than $40 million on the 2008 election. In that year, the landmark Supreme Court decision of District of Columbia v. Heller struck down gun regulations and declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.
Increasingly, NRA money backed Republican candidates. In 2012 the NRA spent $9 million in the presidential election, and in 2014 it spent $13 million. Then, in 2016, it spent over $50 million on Republican candidates, including more than $30 million on Trump’s effort to win the White House. This money was vital to Trump, since many other Republican super PACs refused to back him. The NRA spent more money on Trump than any other outside group, including the leading Trump super PAC, which spent $20.3 million.
The unfettered right to own and carry weapons has come to symbolize the Republican Party’s ideology of individual liberty. Lawmakers and activists have not been able to overcome Republican insistence on gun rights despite the mass shootings that have risen since their new emphasis on guns. (Heather Cox Richardson)
WANT TO STAY ALIVE? DON’T VOTE FOR REPUBLICANS
State legislatures, governors and attorneys general have the power to determine and uphold laws in their states. Statehouses across the country that are led by Democrats are doing what they can to strengthen gun control laws while Republican led states have further weakened gun safety and expanded the rights of those who want unfettered access to guns. That includes guns of every kind including weapons of war like the AR-15. In Texas an angry young man who is suicidal and/or violent can walk around in broad daylight with his AR-15 and the cops can’t even stop him to ask him what’s up. That’s illegal in Texas and some other states, especially red states. They can only stop him AFTER he starts killing people. How is this sane? Aren’t our governments supposed to be keeping us safe? How is this safe?
More of the gun violence is happening in southern states where GOP statehouses are in control of legislation. This is not to say people living in blue states are totally safe. Any place in America is no longer safe with the number of angry, crazy, vengeful, distraught men in our country these days being indoctrinated online by white supremacist groups and a country awash with guns. In many states AR-15s are easier to access than other guns that are not as lethal. How does that make sense? GOP members of Congress and in Republicans led statehouses are refusing to change gun laws to make it harder to get weapons. They are changing the laws to make it easier to get weapons, again, in red states, not blue states.
Who wants to live like this? We are afraid of going shopping, going to church or temple, sending our children to school where they could be massacred. Americans are living in fear, in need of protecting ourselves with barriers and fully armed teachers and security guards in shopping malls. It’s like WE are in jail and the bad guys are running amok on the streets with their weapons of war. THEY have the freedom and WE are incarcerated, deprived of the fun and fulfillment we used to have – going to movies, to the mall, to our places of worship without fear. Our kids and grandkids too. They are afraid to go school.
Some Americans think guns make them safer. They are wrong. People who think guns make them safer are mostly Republicans who have that viewpoint in part because of the strong messaging from the NRA and their GOP leaders who are bought and sold by the NRA.
However, there are some things that both Democrats and Republicans do agree on when it comes to guns.
[T]here is broad partisan agreement on some gun policy proposals, however, the April 2021 survey found. Majorities in both partisan coalitions favor two policies that would restrict gun access: preventing those with mental illnesses from purchasing guns (85% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats support this) and subjecting private gun sales and gun show sales to background checks (70% of Republicans, 92% of Democrats). Majorities in both parties also oppose allowing people to carry concealed firearms without a permit. (Pew Research).
Since Uvalde 61% of Americans now support a ban on assault weapons like the AR15. A majority of Americans used to reject the idea of an assault weapons ban. The tide is turning when it comes to assault weapons. Maybe this change is the result of the number of massacres with assault rifles and the number of Americans whose lives have been touched or affected by gun violence.
A majority of Americans have felt the long reach of the nation’s gun violence epidemic in one way or another.
That’s one of the takeaways from a national poll released on Tuesday by KFF, a nonprofit that focuses on health care research.
Specifically, the poll found about one in five people report having a family member who was fatally shot. The same share say they have been threatened with a gun. One in six said they have personally witnessed a shooting. (NPR)
IF WE ARE NOT SAFE
WE ARE NOT FREE
In America gun violence is now the leading cause of death in children and young people under 20.
Gun violence is directly affecting our freedom. We are not safe going about our daily lives: going shopping, sending our children to school, going to places of worship. We are not free if we are not safe.
There is only one party that is not listening to the will of the voters when it comes to guns. The Republican Party. The only way out is to vote every single Republican out. Unless the GOP is rebuked by the voters of America, it will continue to be beholden to the NRA and we will continue to be unsafe in America.
Safety will not come with more guns. It will come only if we enact legislation to control access to guns and limit open carry so that police can stop people before they start shooting. Maybe over time we can reduce the number of guns in America. To do any of this we have to support Democrats and stop relying on thoughts and prayers. We need action. We need to vote Republicans out of office everywhere we can in America. We are not free if we are not safe.