Spineless pols and the god they worship: the NRA

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You might have thought that the mangled bodies of twenty dead children would have been enough to overcome the crazed obsessions of the gun lobby. You might have believed that the courage and exhortations of a former congresswoman — her career cut short and her life forever changed by a would-be assassin’s bullet — would have pushed Congress to do the right thing. You might have reasoned that polls showing overwhelming public support for a sensible gun control measure would have persuaded politicians to take a modest step toward preventing more massacres.
You would have been wrong. Last week, the U.S. Senate sent a stark message to the citizens it is elected to represent: We couldn’t care less about what you want.
Fifteen years of highly publicized mass murders carried out by madmen with firearms — Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson and Aurora, to name just a few —have changed nothing. Newtown, where 26 people, including 20 young children, were mowed down by a man armed with an assault-type weapon and high-capacity magazines for his ammo, provoked little more than a ripple in the corridors of Washington, where the National Rifle Association and its like-minded lobbies carried the day.
The grip that the gun lobby maintains on Congress is hard to explain. The National Rifle Association has persuaded spineless politicians that it is an omnipotent election god, able to strike down those who don’t cower before it. That’s simply not true, but even if it were, aren’t some principles worth losing election over?
The bill that appeared to have the best chance of passage last week was modest enough. It would simply have expanded criminal background checks to include guns sold at gun shows and via the Internet, a step supported by 90 percent of Americans, according to polls.
As its proponents conceded, it would not have stopped the Newtown atrocity. Adam Lanza took his mother’s legally purchased weapons to kill her, to carry out a massacre and to then commit suicide.
But expanded background checks would certainly save other lives, since violent husbands and other criminals have been able to saunter through huge holes in the system to purchase guns. Speaking with justifiable anger after the background check bill went down to defeat, President Obama noted, “..if action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand . . .we had an obligation to try.”
In an exhaustive report last week about online purchases of firearms, The New York Times showed clearly why expanded background checks are needed. As the newspaper noted, Web sites for firearms function as “unregulated bazaars” where sellers offer prospective buyers the following assurance: “no questions asked.” Reporters found persons with criminal records buying and selling guns.
It is infuriating that the gun lobby defeated a bill to rein in that dangerous commerce. And, as usual, it defended its opposition with a lie: The bill would have led to a national registry of guns, just a slippery slope away from confiscation.
While many discussions of the gun lobby’s fanaticism include a nod to the country’s frontier origins, it’s a mistake to believe this craziness is rooted in history. The lunacy from Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association, has a more recent provenance. When I was a child in Alabama — the daughter and niece of hunting enthusiasts — gun owners didn’t demand the right to take their weapons into church or bars or onto college campuses.
But as hunting has become less popular and as the number of households owning guns has declined, the ranks of gun owners have become over-represented by conspiracy theorists and assorted crazies and kooks. They can be easily persuaded that the government is on a mission to confiscate their firearms.
There is little doubt that paranoia is amplified by the presence of a black president, who represents the deepest fears of rightwing survivalist types. So it was probably naïve to expect that he could drum up support for more reasonable gun safety measures.
But if 20 dead children can’t persuade Congress to tighten gun laws, what will?

Comments

  1. Martin Ware says:

    Ms. Tucker,

    I don’t normally trouble myself to voice my disagreements with a columnist however I thought I might be able to help you. I have only been on this planet for fifty years and in spite of that severe limitation I have come to understand one simple truth… as long as there are haves and have-nots, there will always be bloodshed on this planet, especially innocent blood.

    Your pseudo reasoning displayed here would have convinced me that you were in serious financial trouble and incapable of doing honest work had you been a man. But in your case I thought you merely saying silly things as women often do.

    As the recent Boston tragedy clearly demonstrated, guns need not ever be used to attack and kill. Guns however are required to effectively protect yourself from others with guns or bombs, unless you’re a woman who likely would rather have someone else risk their life to protect yours. There are ALWAYS bad people about somewhere just waiting for an opportunity to harm someone and you would have me believe that the NRA or it’s members, whom that vast majority thereof have likely never had more than a speeding ticket, are child molesters, rapists, murderers or serial killers and that they are just waiting to use their guns on me.

    Simply pathetic.

    You know none of what you suggest is true. You also know that it is the responsibility of every able-bodied person to protect their own life, or the lives of their family, when that life is threatened or at least you would if you were a man.

    You seem to imply that by banning guns, that all the guns on the planet would simply disappear (magical thinking). Banning guns, military styled rifles and handguns, would only severely limit the availability of those weapons to the have-nots, who then could be more easily controlled with a far lower level of force by those who have and insist on having more, such as it was with the Hutu-Tutsi class warfare and genocide. You might say that can never happen here, it has already happened here at least twice.

    You are right however that guns, especially “assault rifles” can kill very effectively. I am counting on that in case I ever have to convince someone or a group of someones that killing me could be more trouble than its worth.

    Further, there are no “overwhelming public polls” and even if there were, you have no right deciding my vulnerability for your imaginary peace of mind. Having lived through the 80’s in gang infested areas I can attest that I suffer no harm, neither me or my property, and all I did differently than others was clean my weapons in plain sight of my neighbors, be polite to everyone and mind my own business.

    Please stop talking like a woman and consider the consequences of your plan, trying to persuade others that they are only being threatened because others can protect themselves and insist on the right to do so, when the truth is no one is ever safe if they are unwilling to protect themselves from all comers. A “assault rifle or a high capacity magazined semi automatic handgun” is a excellent deterrent from mindless violence, even for abused wives who could be killed by criminally minded husbands if unprotected.

    One should simply be well versed with the function and usage of both types and lawfully own both types and a combat shotgun as well.

    Armed security should be present at every school or campus and the areas secured from trespass.

    Martin Ware

  2. Shawn says:

    I saw your article on Yahoo and just had to contact you. There is no need for me to argue against your belief but you should read the comments to your posted article. Maybe it will open your eyes to reality? I’ve never read such slanted reporting on Yahoo under thier “News” section. A truly horrible leaning for Yahoo to take. I hope they see thier mistake and correct it. Rest assured I will be contacting Yahoo as well asking them to not post your articles. You have every right to have your belief system, but writing an article with such bias does nothing but divide this nation. It’s obvious to me you were attempting to press buttons and win attention. It’s disgraceful.

  3. Elena Zajechowski says:

    Thank you Cynthia for your courage and honesty, so refreshing in a country gone mad with gun freaks. I have often wondered if they posted the photos of the mangled bodies of the Newtown children would it make a difference to gun nuts, probably not, they would still whine on about the 2nd Amendment.

  4. Richard says:

    Just read your propaganda piece, GUN LOBBY’S FANATICISM PREVAILS OVER COMMON SENSE, what a joke. I won’t waste much more of my time on a zealot like you, other then to make three points . None of the new gun laws that were defeated would have prevented any of the tragedies. We don’t need new gun laws, we need to enforce the ones we have. And finally, preventing law abiding citizens from obtaining, and possessing guns is not the answer.

    I have included some comments from Yahoo readers below. If you take the time to review the comments section, you will the the overwhelming majority of people feel the same way I do.

    What an idiotic and moronic article! We citizens are the “NRA”! What a moron you are Cynthia Tucker! Let me educate you idiot. In 2010 there were 30,470 gun deaths, of which 19,393 (63.6%) were suicide deaths. The remaining number of 11,078 (36.4%) that are categorized as homicide deaths, includes criminals killed by homeowners and cops; as well as counting accidental deaths. So somewhere between 7,500 and 11,078 is how many people that were actually murdered by guns. There are no statistics for how many lives are saved each year by guns, but my family has 5 that I know of, from a home invasion. The crazed obsessions of morons like Cynthia Tucker to go down the path of paranoid gun control is shocking. These idiots ignore the over 80,000 (according to the CDC) deaths each year from alcohol and the over 85,000 deaths from salt (Harvard’s School of Public Health), while trying to convince citizens that they value human life. The fact is Cynthia, that there are over 300 MILLION guns in America, in private hands and the percentage of misuse is INSIGNIFICANT! In fact, there is not a more responsible group of people in existence.

    Wow… someone sounds a smidgen bitter. I thought responsible journalism was supposed to be unbiased?

    Why did she have to go to the race card? To editorialists really believe that if they go to the race card they will get more people to believe their side of the story?

    “But as hunting has become less popular and as the number of households owning guns has declined”
    Both untrue statements. Hunting is actually more popular now than 25 years ago. Look at license sales nationwide. Firearms ownership is way up as is firearms training and education.
    It is no wonder your “common sense” approach fails. Try basing public policy, and opinion, on fact. That is always a good start. Leftists resort to the emotional rant and call it “common sense.” Common sense in whose view? Get a grip.

    Seriously? Stop trying to play on people’s emotions, and start looking at the FACTS.

  5. Rick Baukol says:

    In your opinion article “Spineless pols and the god they worship: NRA” you made it very clear how upset you are with the US Senate and the gun lobby.
    As I understand it, this gun control measure if passed by both the Senate and the House would have required background checks at gun shows and all Internet sales. As with all laws, the government has to have a way of enforcement. I can see gun show enforcement not being a problem but short of gun registration, how would the government enforce background checks for Internet sales? I’m not saying I’m against these background checks, I just don’t want to be blindsided with gun registration. History has shown that registration always leads to confiscation. No matter what guns are outlawed, the nutcases out there will come up with a different way to kill and maim. The shooter at Virgina Tech used two semi-automatic handguns to kill over 30 people.

    You rightly pointed out this measure would not have stopped the Newtown atrocity. I don’t believe any of the madmen at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson or Aurora would have been stopped if this measure had been law at the time.

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  8. Jim says:

    I am a little tired of Ms Tuckers constant bleating in her writings that the NRA is some big evil entity bending American politicians to go against the will of the American People.

    Ms Tucker, the NRA is comprised of freedom loving Americans and does our bidding, not the other way around. Freedom-loving Americans who understand that in a free nation, some people will misuse that freedom. Yes, some people will be hurt or killed as a result, but that’s the cost of freedom. It then falls on society to ensure that the one who broke the law and harmed someone is adequately punished.

    Restricting my freedom in the name of “safety” or fighting crime does not make me safer. Ultimately, my safety is my responsibility. The courts have repeatedly ruled that the police have no responsibility to protect me personally; that is my responsibility, just as your personal protection is your responsibility. That means we must have the means ( firearms ) to adequately defend ourselves from all manner of criminals, whether it be street corner thugs trying to harm me, politicians trying to strip me of my rights, or liberal writers who are eager to be the lap dogs of those who do not value personal freedom. Yes Ms Tucker, I lumped you in there, because as far as I am concerned, if you attempt to strip me of my freedom, or advocate for it being done, then you are no better than the street criminal.

  9. Chris A. says:

    Another good read Cynthia! I’ve enjoyed your work since your AJC days, keep fighting the good fight!

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