Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And meanwhile, the Congress...

And while we don't know all the facts yet and the story is still unfolding, we know enough to know that we need more than a little soul searching.  
Yes indeed!  This is a quotation from Arianna Huffington [Here] that she posted on Huffpost and we certainly agree.  It was part of an essay she wrote titled, “Arizona Shooting: Our Moment of Silence Needs to Be Followed by More Than Just Lowered Voices.” 
What is encouraging is that we are seeing and hearing this sentiment repeated in blogs and newspapers across the country.  The New York Times carried an editorial on Tuesday that has stirred up some discussion, particularly from the rightwing.  The Times has zeroed in on our weak and almost non-existent national gun control laws and has pointed out that it’s about time for us to renew our demand for curbing the availability and use of lethal weapons. 
The ludicrously thin membrane that now passes for gun control in this country almost certainly made the Tucson tragedy worse. Members of Congress are legitimately concerned about their own safety now, but they should be no less worried about the effect of their inaction on the safety of all Americans.
The editorial goes on to say that the Congress needs to stand up to the NRA which opposes even the most sensible curbs against carrying guns.  The Times points out that the gun lobby is now “waging a campaign to legalize the possession of a gun in schools, bars, parks, offices, and churches, even by teenagers.” [Here]
The paper calls this “lunacy.”  What sane person could disagree?

The editorial goes on to urge the passage of Long Island Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy’s bill to prohibit the use or possession of the extended ammunition clip that Loughner used in his deadly rampage.  Six states, including N.Y., ban it now, but the exclusion should be continued across the entire country by national legislation.  The extended clips that hold 33 bullets were outlawed for ten years (1994-2004) but was allowed to expire because of intense lobbying activity by the NRA and a compliant Bush WH.   
A good place for Congress to start to react to the recent violence would be to ban this extended clip.  I wonder if the Congress has the same sense and the courage to stand up to the gun lobby as those three people in Arizona showed when they wrestled and subdued Loughner?  
It’s time that we heard some sensible proposals from our national Congressional representatives instead of anguished wringing of hands and proposals to increase their own safety, not ours.  Dan Burton (R,IN) will introduce a bill to erect a plexiglass wall around the House of Representative’s Visitor’s Gallery so that no one could throw a bomb onto the floor of the chamber.  [Here
Peter King, (R,NY), is also reported to be preparing a bill that would extend the same prohibition against carrying a gun within 1000 feet of a school to government officials--Senator, Congressperson, federal judge, et al.  It sounds sensible to me, but I wonder if it will even get out of committee when the current hysteria dies down and we move on to the next Big News Event.
It was good to read that the Arizona legislature is discussing (and might have already passed) a law making it a crime to protest within 300 feet of a funeral one hour before and one hour after a funeral.  [Here]  This is obviously aimed at the announced plans of the hate-filled Westboro Baptist Church to picket the funerals of the Tucson victims.  The Arizona legislature is using language from similar legislation that has been used and legally approved in other states. 
All of this has a surreal quality, doesn’t it?  Have we passed through some strange door or fallen down a rabbitt hole?  When sane adults can argue that it should be legal for a male teenager to go into a bar with a loaded, concealed gun, I know that I’m in an altered state of consciousness or, more accurately, they are.
N.R.A. and gun lobbyists and Westboro Baptist Church, BEGONE!... 

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