Another mass shooting. This time in Maine. The perpetrator used a legally acquired gun designed to kill numerous people with a single shot because this weapon is designed for bullets to penetrate and kill people and then penetrate and kill more people nearby. The gunman was known to be mentally ill. He told his family members he was “hearing voices”, which is usually a symptom of schizophrenia. And he had threatened to kill people at a NY Army National Guard base prior to this event. Police had been alerted that he was a threat but they failed to act to detain him. He had been institutionalized before, but only for 2 weeks, Then he was released. After that release he went on this gruesome rampage killing at least 18 people in two locations- a bar and a bowling alley he had frequented. Some of the victims were so disfigured and dismembered they could not be immediately identified. He was found dead from a self-inflicted gun shot wound. The place he chose to kill himself was near a recycling plant in Lisbon, Maine, where he had recently worked as a commercial driver.
Robert Card, the primary suspect in a series of mass shootings in Maine Wednesday that left 18 people dead, spent two weeks in a mental health facility this summer and allegedly threatened to shoot up a U.S. Army National Guard base. (Huff Post)
Card was a 40 year old man who was raised in a family of fanatical gun toting gun lovers. He was also a Trump supporter.
On X, formerly Twitter, Card often liked posts from former President Donald Trump, conservative talk show host Tucker Carlson, and a professor who taught about terrorism. Card had liked a March post from Donald Trump Jr. following a mass shooting in Nashville that read, “rather than talking about guns we should be talking about lunatics pushing their gender affirming bulls**t on our kids?” Card’s X account was suspended after the shooting.
Trump’s violent rhetoric gives people who are already upset and angry the permission to attack others who have ideas that Trump and the rightwing dislike. Because of Trump and the current rightwing movement in America, our country is under greater threat than ever before and will continue to be as Trump gets closer to being incarcerated for his crimes. Trump will rachet up the violent rhetoric as he gets closer to his existential demise.
WE NEED GUN CONTROL LAWS
There will always be crazy, angry people in the world. They exist in every country. But only in America do crazy, angry people have such easy access to weapons of war that are totally unnecessary if you are a hunter. In America, crazy angry people can also legally carry concealed weapons in some states.
Nearly every US state allows gun owners to carry concealed weapons in public in some form. But more than half of US states allow most gun owners to carry a concealed firearm in most public spaces without a permit, background check or safety training, as Republican lawmakers advance a so-called “constitutional carry” movement through state legislatures.
State officials later moved to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like the one used in attacks in the last 10 months. But assault weapons like AR-style rifles remain widely available across the country, despite repeated demands from President Joe Biden and widespread support among Democratic members of Congress to reinstate a federal ban.
Since taking office, the president has had more success in enacting new gun safety legislation than any president since Bill Clinton’s two terms in the 1990s.
But with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a de facto 60-vote threshold for any legislative action on any matter in the Democratic-controlled Senate, it is unlikely that Congress will make any progress towards any new laws that would restrict the availability of firearms in the US – even as a majority of Americans believe it should be more difficult to get them.
HOW DID WE GET INTO THIS MESS?
Heather Cox Richardson, an historian (who lives in Maine), does an excellent job of summarizing the rise of the NRA and its influence in politics in America.
The NRA formed a political action committee (PAC) in 1975, and in 1980, for the first time, it endorsed a presidential candidate: Republican Ronald Reagan. When Reagan was elected, the NRA became a player in national politics and was awash in money from gun and ammunition manufacturers.
By 2000 the NRA was one of the three most powerful lobbies in Washington. In 2004 the federal assault weapons ban expired, and gun companies began to sell AR-15–style semiautomatic rifles (the AR stands for “ArmaLite Rifle,” which was the name of the military weapon on which the mass-market AR-15 is based). Gun sales had been flat for years, but gun and ammunition sales took off during the administration of Democratic president Barack Obama as advocates told customers that he would confiscate their guns.
Firearms companies played on the politics of the era, advertising their products as tools for heroic figures taking on dangerous threats in society. The firearms industry estimates that about 20 million AR-15s have been sold in the U.S., and mass shootings took off as individual rights trumped the rights of the community.
The NRA spent more than $204 million on the 2008 election. In 2016, NRA spending surged to more than $419 million, with more than $30 million going to support Trump. Since 2020, lawsuits and a dramatic dropoff in funding have dramatically weakened the NRA, but the image of the gun-toting individualist has become so central to the Republican Party that congress members have taken to sending holiday cards showing their families brandishing assault rifles and to wearing AR-15 lapel pins on the floor of Congress. (Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American.)
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Our government is supposed to pass laws that keep us safe. Gun violence has become the #1 killer of American children.
Anyone who is elected who is not willing to pass the gun safety law that Americans want needs to be fired from his or her job as a representative. Republicans (all of them) and any Democrats who support the NRA have to lose elections. Full stop. Every politician that is in bed with the NRA needs to lose his or her election the next time there is a chance to vote them out of office.
How do you know if that politician supports the NRA? Simple. Do they say it’s time for thoughts and prayers? Or do they say it’s time to ban assault weapons on the streets of America? What is their NRA rating? If they are flunking that NRA rating they deserve your vote. If we hope to have safe communities we have to have legislators who will pass the gun safety laws we want and need to be safe.
SOME VOTERS GET THIS ISSUE BECAUSE IT IS PERSONAL
One group of voters understands this in a way no other voting group does; namely, younger voters. Younger Americans were raised with shooter drills in their elementary schools and mass shooting events. This voting bloc of younger voters needs to rise up and vote in greater numbers. It might be hard to do because the Republican Party has control of so many state houses. Once they are in power, they pass laws that suppress the votes of younger voters, making it harder for students to vote by eliminating drop boxes near campuses and/or passing requirement for special IDs instead of accepting student IDs as sufficient to register to vote. Regulations might be hard to navigate but they can still be navigated.
Another deeply affected group of potential voters who gets the need to vote like your life depends on it are suburban moms. They don’t want to send their children to school and worry they could be killed there. They need to become single issue voters against the NRA. In Virginia there is an election on November 7th. If the Republicans gain control of both the House and Senate, with Glen Youngkin (R) as the governor, that state will weaken instead of strengthen gun control laws. Virginia voters need to vote for Democrats who have flunked the their NRA ratings until this unholy alliance between the NRA and the GOP is over.
In Florida, after the Parkland high school school shooting, the public demanded stricter gun laws in that state. Florida passed a red flag law that creates an incentive for people to report dangerous individuals who should not be allowed to have a gun. Since that law was passed, it has been invoked over 6,000 times to keep guns out of the hands of angry, crazy people in Florida.
BECOME A SINGLE ISSUE VOTER
If Americans who understand the need for gun control laws get to the polls and vote Republicans and NRA supporting Dems out of office across the board, we will have a fighting chance to get the gun control laws we want in this country and a chance to live in America without being afraid to go to a bar, a bowling alley, a church, a school, a synagogue, a grocery store, a music concert, a movie theater. There have been mass shootings by lone wolf shooters using AR-15s in all of those places.
We have a right to be safe in America. Demand that your politicians support what you want. Become a single issue voter when it comes to guns.