NRA can’t hide forever

We’ve been down this road before: An unstable shooter wielding a small arsenal engages in senseless mass murder. People react in shock and outrage. A town mourns. A few scattered voices call for gun-ownership reform, while gun supporters shout down opposition by shrieking about “politicizing” the tragedy. Then people quickly forget and move on while nothing changes. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 

Except Friday’s Sandy Hook catastrophe was different. The loss of 20 first-graders was a brutal blow to an entire nation, playing to every parent’s worst fears about losing a child. I wept for the kids whose lives were cut tragically short, and also for the kids who will carry this trauma their entire lives, the way I still carry my own from growing up during El Salvador’s civil war. 

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“All I can think right now is how many moms have Christmas presents hidden all over their house and were told this morning that their child is dead,” wrote blogger John Cole. “How many of them will now look at a Christmas tree, knowing their child will not be there on Christmas morning to open the presents lovingly purchased and wrapped and hidden? [How many grandparents] have plane tickets booked for the holidays, and now need to change those plans and come up earlier to bury their grandchild?”

This is now the price we, as a nation, have paid in blood for the fundamentalist and uncompromising approach of the gun lobby. The Second Amendment may talk about a “well-regulated militia,” but there isn’t one sensible gun regulation the National Rifle Association won’t oppose. 

If the NRA truly advocated for home defense and hunters, they wouldn’t need to fight tooth and nail for concealed-weapons rights, assault rifles, armor-piercing bullets, the intrusion of guns in places like schools and bars or for the rights of people on the government’s terrorist watch list to buy guns. Instead, they’ve embraced a gun culture focused mainly on “tactical” weaponry to defend “freedom.” That some crazies believe in conspiracies about FEMA camps and U.N. black helicopters is disappointing. That the gun lobby and manufacturers encourage them to boost membership and sales is unconscionable. 

There is absolutely no rational civilian purpose for needing tactical assault rifles, absent a Mexican drug war or a zombie apocalypse, and neither is worth sacrificing two entire first-grade classes. Shotguns work better against zombies anyway.

There is absolutely no rational civilian reason for high-capacity magazines. If you can’t take down that buck with a single rifle shot, you have no business hunting. Try some target practice first. “I don’t know anybody that needs those multiple clips as far as ammunition in a gun,” said NRA stalwart Sen. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia. “The most I’ve ever used in my rifle is three shells. Usually you get one shot, and very seldom ever two. This doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

It’s encouraging that Manchin, as well as both Democratic Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada and Mark Warner of Virginia, have softened their pro-gun absolutism in the face of this tragedy. If only we saw the same from Republican officials. If only conservatives showed the same passion for protecting these children as they claim for the unborn. Instead, the NRA and its allies have gone into hiding, hoping to ride out this storm.

There are 20 sets of presents in Connecticut that won’t be opened this Christmas. Not even the NRA can ignore that.


Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com)