Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Fallacy of the Gun Lobby Rhetoric - Again

After the shooting in the Aurora, CO movie theater I wrote all my state and national legislators urging them to pass laws to restrict the sale of military issue weapons, and to limit the number of weapons an individual could purchase. On the day I learned of the shooting in the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, I received a reply from Rep. Pat Meehan, my representative in Congress indicating (in response to my earlier letter) that he agreed with Pres. Obama (one of the few times he ever has) who advocates strengthening the enforcement of existing laws. The fallacy of this position is that the weapons used in these and all the other mass shootings over the last few years (Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Aurora, and Tucson) were committed with guns purchased legally.

Despite the rhetoric as to his being a threat to the gun lobby, Pres. Obama has done more to weaken gun laws than his NRA member predecessor George W. Bush. He allowed the assault weapons ban to expire and signed legislation allowing guns to be carried in National Parks. He has not put more teeth into the data base that checks on those who seek to purchase guns, even provisions regarding mental health on which has spoken but not acted. He has not challenged the Tiahrt Amendment, nor has he in any way challenged the gun lobby or the NRA or the gun industry to come up with real solutions to the proliferation of guns into the hands of people such as those who committed these and other heinous crimes. Furthermore, neither Congress nor most of state legislatures have done anything to limit the number of handguns or other weaponry that a person can buy nor given police proactive tools ( such as a law requiring lost and stolen guns to be reported).

The problem that these recent shootings highlight (yet again) is it that it is the laws themselves that are contributing to the problem. When non-military and non-law enforcement people such as the Aurora killer can collect an arsenal not only of guns but other explosive devices legally, the problem is not enforcement, it is the law itself. When para-military groups espousing white supremacist hatred can roam freely and gather weaponry, the problem is the law.

However, when these common sense solutions don’t even get a hearing, the problem is not just the law; it is a system of government that allows powerful lobbies with deep pockets like the NRA to buy silence and inaction from representatives. It is a system that has a Supreme Court that renders a decision like Citizens United which allows money to dictate who gets heard in Congress and who does not. It is a system that so broadly interprets the Second Amendment that owning a gun is a right without responsibility or just cause.

The problem is also us that we aren’t so outraged that we demand to be heard and that we are always reacting rather than seeking to disrupt this system that is so corrupt and so unresponsive to the real problems people face (here I refer not only to guns but also so much more), because it is only serving the needs of an elite few. I am not sure at this point what that disruption looks like, but it seems that is time for an Occupy Washington, and Occupy (fill in your state capitol), where we take up residence in the legislative halls and streets that supposedly belong to the people and demand action that our elites are not willing to take.

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