Tears, Tissues, Anger And A Deadline

The title of today’s article tells my personal story of the last several days. It all started when the news broke of another mass shooting in a school this time an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

My initial reactions were tears (which led to using a lot of tissues) and anger. Soon I knew I had my Sunday article but I put off writing it. (It is very late Saturday morning as I pen this and in my “writing ahead fashion” a deadline is looming.) On Thursday I actually had to turn off the television because the tears and tissues were annoying me and preventing me from efficiently doing what I was doing while watching TV. As I write this the anger continues to rise once again.

I have long said that if the deaths of 20 babies in Sandy Hook didn’t change things, I don’t know what will. Certainly, the recent deaths in Buffalo didn’t and sadly, I doubt the deaths of nearly another 20 youngsters in Texas will. Let’s be honest for a moment. The Sandy Hook victims were white while the vast majority of the latest victims are people of color. (I hate that expression if any readers out there have a better one to use please let me know!)

The circumstances change just a bit in every mass shooting but the root problem is the same – it is simply too easy to get a gun in American and too many of the wrong people are getting them.

We need some national common sense gun regulations and we have for decades. The vast majority (like 80 to 90% of Americans) agree on that. The obstacle is greed. The greed of the gun manufacturers who actually see sales go up in the aftermath of a mass shooting. To paraphrase an old Vietnam era saying – mass shootings are good for business; invest your kid. (Did that stop you for an instant?) On the other side of the greed coin are a handful of elected officials (on the federal level most importantly in the Senate) who are more concerned about campaign contributions and the Bubba vote than they are about Americans’ lives.

In the latest case the shooter legally bought two assault style rifles along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition within less than a week of his eighteenth birthday. You have to be 21 to buy a beer in Texas. I guess in the “minds” of the Republican dominated Texas Legislature a long neck is much more deadly than an assault rifle.

The right will say we don’t have a gun problem; we have a mental health problem. Well, if they really believed that why are they simultaneously loosening gun laws and cutting funding for mental health? Is it lying, hypocrisy, stupidity, some or all over the above? I actually agree that part of the issue is that the wrong people are getting hold of guns much too easily. Why is that? Permit less (and training less) carry (in many cases concealed) is certainly not the answer!

If I hear the good guy with a good defeating the bad guy with a gun argument one more time, I think my head will explode! Tell that to the family of the good guy retired Buffalo police officer turned security guard at the Tops Market in Buffalo who was shot to death two Saturdays ago. Only a fool would repeat that. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz both did Friday at the NRA convention in Houston. Cruz proves you can simultaneously be bright and act the fool.

Universal background checks accompanied by waiting periods are no-brainers that also have enormous public support. The only reason the NRA doesn’t support them is because it long ago ceased to be a sportsmen’s’ organization and is now just the lobbying arm of the armaments industry. Universal background checks would also help the brick-and-mortar gun shops which are actually businesses that pay local taxes and employ local people thereby, at least in those areas, enhancing their communities.

Much (and rightfully so) is being made of the police response in Uvalde. If I wanted to analyze that aspect alone I would need several more articles. One factor at play is that (as it was in Buffalo) the initial responding officers were outgunned. Why are assault style weapons even available to the general public? Those weapons only belong in the hands of the military and law enforcement. Banning them would be simply. We did it before and the data clearly indicates it worked.

I’ve heard a lot of statistics over the last few days (many were redundant to me) let me just hit you with two. There are more guns (that we know of) in American than people. America is by far the only country that can say that. We manufacture more guns in American than we do automobiles. I could go on but that gives you plenty to ponder.

Incomplete as this article is it is time for me to start to wrap up. I will admit there is no panacea law or combination of laws that will stop all these mass shootings. This much I know – doing nothing will solve nothing. We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. There are several common sense laws we can pass that will lessen the frequency and body count of these mass shootings without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens.

As much as I hate to admit it (to myself or my readers) I don’t see our federal legislators doing it in the near term. We, the voters are both the catalyst and the solution. We most defeat every office holder or candidate who is beholden to the gun lobby instead of the lives of their constituents. The first step is to refuse to vote for any candidate with an “A” rating from the NRA. That should be the scarlet letter of 2022 and beyond American politics.

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