After the Uvalde, Texas atrocity that left 19 children and two teachers dead as well as hundreds of others traumatized for life, a bi-partisan contingent of U.S. Senators meet behind closed doors to discuss the legislative logjam that’s endured since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary massacre that left 26 people dead.
The Texas school massacre was just two weeks after ten people were gunned down at the Tops Supermarket in Buffalo. In the decade since Sandy Hook, there’s been close to 1,000 school shootings, but that’s not the half of it, with tens of thousands of kids wounded and thousands killed since.
“As we struggled against the COVID-19 pandemic, a concurrent public health crisis intensified,” according to an analysis by the John Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions. “Gun homicides rose dramatically across the country, increasing by 35% in just one year. Nearly 5,000 more lives were lost to gun homicide in 2020 than in 2019. Gun suicides remained at historically high levels. Guns were the leading cause of death among children and teens in 2020, accounting ting for more deaths that COVID 19, car crashes, or cancers.”
Chuck Todd told his national audience yesterday that his producers could not persuade one of the fifty Republican Senators to come on Meet the Press. He had to settle for the former Republican Governor of North Carolina Pat McCrory to sit down with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker to offer a bi-partisan explanation for why a nation that’s sunk trillions to project military might around the world can’t keep it’s children safe in its schools.
Todd suggested to Booker that things might be so hopeless that he either had to settle for marginal “incrementalism” from his Senate colleagues or be satisfied with “bold” rhetoric that would “lead to nothing.”
“Well, again, this is not a one-move solution. There must be many things done,” Booker said. “But we know background checks make a difference. We know gun licensing, supported by the majority of Americans, makes a difference. Heck, when Connecticut did it, their gun violence rate fell 40 percent. When Missouri got rid of it, their gun violence rate raised 20 percent.”
Booker continued. “So, we know what works, but I am sorry, we are at a point in this nation where we are going to have to mobilize a greater movement. Just expressing regret or sorrow– until the redemptive power of the love for all of our children is greater than the destructive power of the love of our guns and money and power, until that redemptive love of our children turns into action, then nothing is going to change. And so many generations before us knew this. As Frederick Douglass said, ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand.’ If there’s no struggle, there is no progress. We have got to begin to hold our congressional leaders more accountable for change.”
Todd played for McCrory a 1999 clip of Wayne LaPierre, president of the NRA, testifying to Congress that he thought it was “reasonable to provide mandatory, instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show, no loopholes anywhere from anyone.”
“Something has changed from then to now, where reasonable regulations were at least openly debated by gun rights officials,” Todd observed. “And now, you can’t do anything without it looking like you’re anti-Second Amendment. What happened?”
McCrory offered hand wringing having just been defeated in a U.S. Senate primary. He argued that there were now “grass roots gun organizations that are making the NRA actually go more to the right on this issue” and went on to recount how he was bested for the U.S. Senate “two weeks ago to a congressman who had a gun in front trousers in a commercial.”
It’s not surprising that the entirety of the Republican Senate caucus would duck coming on national television. We have run up a grim tally when you consider that the United States had in place an assault weapons ban up until 2004 when during President George W. Bush tenure Congress let the law lapse. It also limited access to large clip ammunition that in the years since have been used with such catastrophic effect on the most vulnerable among us.
In a 2019 study published in the Journal of Trauma of Acute Care Surgery researchers contrasted data for the mass shootings for the period between 1994 and 2004, when the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was in effect, with the mass shooting data from 1981 to 2017. They concluded “the federal ban period was associated with a statistically significantly fewer mass shooting related deaths per 10,000 firearm homicides and that “mass-shooting fatalities were 70% less likely to occur during the federal ban period.”
Sadly, this death cult ritual is likely to continue. It’s really an open question as to whether or not there is sufficient “love for all of our children” to overcome “the love of our guns, money and power.”
It hasn’t yet.