We the People: Time for integrity

Society is built upon trust and trust upon the confidence we can place upon one another’s integrity. Without trust and integrity, we are mere individuals without the benefit of civilized society.

The mass murder in Las Vegas was a depraved and despicable act beyond the ability of words to describe. The victims were peaceful and good citizens, and society failed to protect them from senseless violence.

It is time to pass sensible gun laws. This criminal would have been able to purchase firearms and kill many people even if federal gun regulations were made stronger. However, that is not a reason to refuse to discuss and debate stronger gun laws. Any enhancement to existing regulations that would make it harder for a psychopath or terrorist to acquire the tools needed to commit mass murder would be good.

Most Americans support stronger gun laws. Most Americans want laws that would reduce gun deaths. The American people must stand up to the National Rifle Association in order to get stronger regulations that make it more difficult for criminals to obtain deadly weapons. Unfortunately, our lawmakers — especially our Republican lawmakers — are in thrall to the NRA.

The NY Times reported that the top 10 recipients of NRA funding are Republicans and include John McCain (Arizona), Richard Burr (North Carolina) and Barbara Comstock (Virginia). Ninety five of the top 100 recipients of NRA money in the House are Republican.

These NRA-supported lawmakers deplore the violence after mass shootings and state that they are praying for or thinking about the victims. Prayers and thoughts must be replaced with plans and actions.

Every citizen should write, email or tweet representatives and senators and demand that a change be made to the patchwork quilt of ineffective gun regulations that allows individuals to purchase military style weapons and ammunition in ridiculous amounts.

The Las Vegas murderer rained hundreds of bullets down on concertgoers because he had fully loaded high capacity ammunition magazines and “bump stock” devices on a dozen of the military style assault rifles that he used in the attack.

A bump stock is a legal replacement for a semi-automatic rifle stock designed to help shooting enthusiasts with hand mobility limitations fire a semi-automatic rifle without the individual trigger pulls normally required.

Unfortunately, it also makes semi-automatic rifles perform more like fully automatic rifles. The rifle can slide back and forth rapidly and harness the energy of the kickback when the rifle fires to “bump” it back and forth between the shooter’s shoulder and trigger finger while firing. This allows the rifle to fire rapidly again and again with the application of steady pressure.

Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill to ban bump stock equipment and other devices that make semi-automatic rifles perform like automatic ones. This common-sense response to the Las Vegas massacre prompted Republicans in Congress to express openness to legislation regulating bump stocks.

This does not mean that they will not merely wait till the smoke clears before burying the bill in a committee. It is time for petitions and for demands to be made for stronger federal gun regulation.

Republican and Democratic leaders can work together to increase background and mental health checks for potential gun owners. There is no reason that a limit cannot be implemented and enforced on the amount of weapons an individual may purchase or warehouse.

In 2016, the NRA spent $4 million on lobbying and direct contributions to politicians as well as more than $50 million on political advocacy. It opposes every proposal to strengthen firearm regulations and works to remove existing restrictions on gun possession. Our lawmakers should refuse to take the money.

Politicians offering prayers and thoughts and moments of silence after a mass shooting still take pro-gun lobby money and muzzle any legislative debate on enhancing federal gun regulations. The likelihood of this Congress passing meaningful gun reform is next to none unless the people demand action.

The bump stock bill is tailored to address a loophole in existing federal gun regulations and it should be a “no-brainer” even for Republicans. House Speaker Paul Ryan said this is “clearly something we need to look into.” The time for prayers, thoughts or looks has passed especially now that the NRA is preparing its response to the reaction over the massacre.

Don Turner, president of the local NRA organization, said that tougher gun laws could not have prevented this mass murderer from assembling his arsenal of weapons. He asked, “How do you balance freedom with security?” He stated that even in prison “people … still manufacture weapons and they still murder each other.”

Really? The NRA believes that even bump stocks must be protected because regulating them will not prevent murderers in prison from murdering other inmates.

I know that people at concerts, people in night clubs, children in school and college students on campus should be protected from mass shooting violence. We do not have to accept this situation.

This does not have to be a battle between anti-gun activists and pro-gun advocates. This should be a civil debate between our lawmakers with the singular goal of passing a federal law that provides maximum protection for Americans and which leaves the right to bear arms intact.

It can be done.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.