Here we go again.
After the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas where 59 died and close to 500 were injured, we are witnessing the all too familiar back and forth of debating gun control.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) is assuming its usual role of keeping mum after a gun massacre. They consider this smart politics. Let things settle down, keep quiet and "the issue" will hopefully go away.
What an unbelievable and cowardly statement: 59 Americans die in a mass shooting, and the majority leader of the U.S. Senate uses the word "inappropriate" to cover up his passivity and lack of courage.
Let's call this what it is. McConnell doesn't want to alienate that group of gun owners that he knows will retaliate against him by refusing to contribute to his campaign or not vote for him.
See, being majority leader doesn't confer on him a higher calling. That is the national interest. No, McConnell, the ultra partisan, is devoted exclusively to only staying in office.
Or how about the sweeping statement of long-time Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.). He's against any form of legislation that brings even a small dose of sanity to the discussion: "I'm a Second Amendment man. I'm not for any gun control."
Talk about pandering and inciting your base. Shelby goes to the front of the line and obviously will say anything to satisfy the most extreme of the anti-gun-control zealots.
There are specific and substantive things that can and should be done by the U.S. Congress to stop the senseless madness and terrible loss of life by guns.
The very first thing is to ban "bump stock" devices. This is what was used by the gunman in Las Vegas to murder all those innocent people. These devices can be bought online for $200. They enable semiautomatic weapons to increase their rates of fire, similar to automatic weapons — and kill more people.
Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonLiberal group launches campaign urging Republicans to support Biden's agenda Domestic extremists return to the Capitol GOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes MORE (R-Wis.) announced, "I have no problem banning those." But will this simple, straightforward, common-sense proposal become the law of the land?
Don't bet on it.
Other GOP senators seem to have an open mind about this needed change, but I worry about their murky non-committal choice of words. The number three GOP leader, John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSchumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B GOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff MORE (R-S.D.) said that a ban "is worth having a conversation about."
Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump pushes back on book claims, says he spent 'virtually no time' discussing election with Lee, Graham The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden meets with lawmakers amid domestic agenda panic The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - House Democrats plagued by Biden agenda troubles MORE (R-S.C.) said the ban "is something I'd be interested in looking at to see if a law change would matter."
Oh, come on! Have the guts to come out against this dangerous device and just say it should be outlawed.
Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times offered these "modest steps" that "collectively could make a difference" — and, I would add, save lives:
- Impose universal background checks.
- Impose an age limit of 21 on gun purchases.
- Enforce a ban on possession of guns by anyone subject to a domestic-violence protection order.
- Adopt microstamping of cartridges so that they can be traced to the gun that fired them.
How can any intelligent, humane, sensible person be opposed to these proposals that would surely reduce the carnage that is now occurring — 30,000 Americans dying every year by gun violence.
Kristof points out that "we've reduced the auto fatality rate per 100 million miles driven by more than 95 percent since 1921. This was accomplished through seatbelts, airbags, padded dashboards, better bumpers, lighted roads, highway guardrails, graduated licenses for young people, crackdowns on drunk driving."
Instead of shirking their most important obligation, why don't elected officials start doing something about this deadly situation? Other countries, such as Great Britain and Australia, have made dramatic improvements after mass shootings, with national legislation.
What are we waiting for? Why must the same tragedies happen every year?
Something can be done.
The NRA doesn't own or run this country. We do.
Mark Plotkin is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner. He previously worked as a political analyst for WAMU-FM, Washington’s NPR affiliate, and for WTOP-FM, Washington’s all-news radio station. He is a winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in writing.