Saturday, January 15, 2011

If Not Now, When?...

In her NYTimes column last week, Gail Collins reminded us of this preview: [Here]
In 2009, Gabrielle Giffords was holding a 'Congress on Your Corner' meeting at a Safeway supermarket in her district when a protester, who was waving a sign that said 'Don’t Tread on Me,' waved a little too strenuously. The pistol he was carrying under his armpit fell out of his holster.
'It bounced. That concerned me,' Rudy Ruiz, the father of one of Giffords’s college interns at the time, told me then. He had been at the event and had gotten a larger vision than he had anticipated of what a career in politics entailed. 'I just thought, ‘What would happen if it had gone off?  Could my daughter have gotten hurt?’ 
Unfortunately, we now know the answer to this father’s question.  What is extraordinary is that the commentary following the Tucson slaughter has not been about the incredibly lethal weapon that the killer used but has mainly been about the so-called toxic rhetoric in our political discourse.  Little has been said about our need to pay attention to the weaponry that is now widely available to the general public.  As Collins pointed out in her column, today’s handgun technology could not have been imagined by the authors of the Second Amendment.  (Collins titled her essay, “A Right to Bear Glocks?”)
Collins also wrote that the reason that there has been so little discussion of a hard, new look at gun control is “because they’re afraid of the N.R.A., whose agenda is driven by the people who sell guns and want the right to sell as many as possible.” [Here]
The N.R.A. was established in New York in 1871 by two Civil War veterans who were concerned with the lack of marksmanship of their fellow soldiers.   They sponsored shooting events and other gun related events.  Today, the N.R.A. has four million members and is known primarily for its fierce advocacy for gun rights.  Recently, it has flexed its muscle in other areas far afield from marksmanship.  For instance, the NYTimes has pointed out that it became involved in the health care debate and even fought the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. [Here]
A glimpse at the very sophisticated and complex NRA website gives one an indication of the organization’s power and broad interests with streaming text highlighting proposed gun legislation running across the bottom of the screen. [Here]  
One of the staunchest House gun control advocates, Carolyn McCarthy (D, NY) is preparing legislation to outlaw the extended ammunition gun clip that was used in the Tucson shooting.  Certainly no one can argue that the 30 plus bullet clip is needed for self-protection or for hunting.  However, even Rep. McCarthy is mindful of the power of the NRA.  She was quoted by Politico as saying, “...[w]e have to look at what I can pass...I don’t want to give the National Rifle Association--excuse the pun--the ammunition to come at me, either.” [Here]
It’s shocking to read that even Carolyn McCarthy is forced to be aware of the power of the NRA.  McCarthy went into politics after her husband was killed and son permanently disabled by a rampaging killer on a commuter train.  Her bona fides are blood-tested.  
On Friday, NYT’s Bob Herbert recounted the last deadly slaughter of April, 2007 at Virginia Tech in which 32 students and faculty were killed by one crazed gunman.  This horror is retold in a documentary film, “Living for 32,” produced by Maria Cuomo Cole, which tells the story of one of the students, Colin Goddard, who survived several wounds, returned to the college, and now works for the Brady Center To Prevent Gun Violence.  
All Goddard wants is for simple legislative steps to be taken so that gun owners can still enjoy their constitutional rights and that we can all live safely without worrying about a Jared Loughney killing or maiming us.  
Who could vote against that?  

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