Friday, October 2, 2015


They say that it is inappropriate to politicize certain issues.

Like the recent shooting in Roseburg, Oregon that claimed 10 lives and injured 7.

They say that to politicize such an event is crass…insensitive…overstepping the boundaries of acceptable political discourse.

Yesterday an angry President Obama said that events such as Roseburg are exactly the type of event that should be politicized. I agree. So let the crass discourse begin.

The mass shooting at Roseburg…the 45 other school shootings that have occurred this year…the 294 mass shootings that have occurred in the first 274 days of 2015…all resulted in part due to the cowardice, selfishness and irresponsible behavior of the members of the United States Congress.

In spite of overwhelming evidence that gun violence is a serious problem that is having devastating effects on our society, congress refuses to act. Why? Because our elected leaders place a higher value on their job security and the significance that an endorsement from the gun lobby has on their prospects for election…than they do on the lives of innocent men, women and children.

Congress has moved heaven and earth to prevent foreign born terrorists from killing Americans. Trillions have been spent and wars have been waged to “protect the homeland and secure American lives.” Nothing…not even the United States Constitution…has impeded their frenetic hair on fire pursuit of this endeavor. Under the auspices of national security they pass laws that allow them to eavesdrop on our phone calls and emails, profile us on the basis of ethnicity, pat us down, make us remove our shoes and belts, herd us like cattle, scan us and subject us to strip searches, hold us without cause for as long as they like without probable cause and deny us access to legal counsel. When it comes to protecting us from radicals who would kill us there is no stone left unturned…no civil right that cannot be violated. But when it comes to protecting us from killing ourselves Congress does nothing. The right to bear arms trumps any and all other civil rights. Why? Because protecting the gun lobby protects one’s job. The disproportionate response toward threats to American lives proves the point.

Congress would argue that the above is a false equivalency. Accept it isn’t. If every American life matters then equal steps should be taken to protect them from threats be they foreign or domestic. That is clearly not what is happening here. If congress were willing to act they could make a difference.

President Obama challenged the media outlets to show the number of deaths in this county caused by gun violence and compare it to the number of deaths cause by terrorist attacks. NBC took up the challenge. Here are the results for the past decade:
# of deaths attributed to gun violence – 315,000
# of deaths result from gun related homicides – 118,000
# of deaths from terrorist attacks – 38

Congress took steps to stop foreign born attacks. No plan could ever be 100% successful in a country with open borders. But the results bear witness that a seemingly impossible task can be accomplished. And Americans sleep well in their beds knowing that everything possible is being done to keep them safe; never knowing the number of terrorist plots that have been thwarted on their behalf.
Yet when it comes to protecting citizens from violence here at home congress lacks the political courage to even try. They have become so numb to the violence that each occurrence generates and even lesser response.

It used to be that when a situation like Roseburg or Columbine or Sandy Hook occurred congressmen would be stumbling all over each other to find a television camera where they could express their faux outrage and sorrow before returning to business as usual. Now they don’t even bother. This morning many of the congressional messages of grief came via their twitter accounts. “My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.” #Whatever!

Then there are those willing to go on the record but only to parrot the NRA’s boilerplate talking points when suck tragedies occur: “Guns don’t kill people…people kill people. The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun…” And there are those politicians who already this morning have made the argument that we don’t need more gun laws we just need to enforce the existing ones. They note that Oregon has in place some of the toughest gun laws in the country but they didn’t stop this tragedy from occurring. This line of thinking basically says that since we can’t stop all the gun violence there is no sense even trying.

Stricter gun laws don’t have to be perfect to be effective. Universal back ground checks for all gun purchases will save some lives. Closing the gun show loophole will save some lives. Outlawing assault weapons and expanded ammunition clips will save some lives. A national gun registry and more investment into the correlation between mental illness and gun violence will save some lives. enough? 80% of Americans believe these laws should be enacted.

These common sense laws won’t save everyone but they will make a difference. How much of a difference? Who knows? Bit if saving even one life matters than shouldn’t we make the effort. Shouldn’t we make the same effort to stop the violence against Americans coming from within our borders as we have in disrupting attacks from abroad?

What will it take to move congress to act? They watched as one of their colleagues took a bullet to the head and did nothing. They watched as 20 babies were slaughtered; some of them disfigured beyond recognition from multiple gunshots to the face…and did nothing. What will it take? Do we need to watch a person armed with an assault weapon mow down members of congress from the visitors’ gallery to effect change?

It’s up to the American people. The voters need to send people to congress who will enact series gun violence legislation or send them packing. Lawmakers need to fear the people more than they do the gun lobby.

Tweeting “our thoughts and prayers are with victims and their families” isn’t enough.

Sometimes God wants you to get off your ass and act.

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