by Vijaya Chandrasoma
In yet another cynical exhibition of its contempt for gun control regulations, the National Rifle Association proceeded with its scheduled 2022 annual convention in Houston, Texas on Friday, May 27 through Sunday May 29, over the Memorial Day weekend. The venue of the conference, a four-hour drive from the scene of the tragedy in the little town of Uvalde, Texas, illustrates the disdain Republicans have for mass shootings, even mass shootings of toddlers, caused entirely by an increasing proliferation of military style assault rifles and ammunition.
In fact, the sole purpose of this meeting was to promote the continued sales of all types of guns, and to introduce many more models with improved lethal features for the increased killing pleasure of gun enthusiasts, hunters and mass murderers.
The Keynote Speaker was Texas Senator, Ted Cruz, who favoured “Door Control”, advocated that every school in the land should have only one door each guarded by an armed sentry. A particularly stupid idea considering that one door would take hours to access and exit schools daily by thousands of students. And place them in great danger in case of a fire.
NRA President Wayne La Pierre, of “the only thing that will stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun” fame, also spoke. This hackneyed hypocrisy was fully exposed as a fraud by the fact that 19 Uvalde police officers, fully armed and wearing body armour, massed outside the classroom where the 18-year old shooter was, but did nothing for over one hour. When they finally stormed the classroom and killed the shooter, 19 children and two teachers had been killed and mutilated by the lethal power of an AR 15 assault rifle.
The star of the show was the defeated, disgraced, seditious Donald Trump, who continues his iron grip on the politicians of the Republican Party. He echoed La Pierre’s debunked “good man with a gun” theory, and stated that mental health was the main reason for mass shootings in America.
He also said there is a “constant parade of cynical politicians seeking to exploit the tears of sobbing families to increase their own power to take away our constitutional rights. Every time a disturbed or a demented person commits such a hideous crime, there’s always a grotesque effort by some in our society to use the suffering of others to advance their own extreme political agenda. Even more repulsive is their rush to shift the blame away from the villains who commit acts of mass violence and to place that blame on the law-abiding members of the NRA”.
A classic statement of transference which Trump has perfected over the years, where he blames his opposition for his own perverted opinions and crimes. The “parade of cynical politicians” are the Republican congressmen who accept millions in bribes from the Gun Lobby to ensure that guns, including military style weapons, are feely available to anyone. What is repulsive is that these corrupt politicians place the blame for mass shootings on everything, mental health, unlocked doors, anything at all except the universal availability of guns to any maniac or criminal over 18-years old, with no restrictions.
There are a couple of problems with these arguments propagated by the NRA and its bought and paid for Republican congressmen. One, other countries in the world also have their share of mental problems, probably fewer than the USA, as they don’t have a major political party consumed by hatred and bigotry. These countries, with sensible gun control regulations have had no problem with school or any type of mass shootings. Two, the 18-year old Uvalde shooter had no criminal record nor a known history of mental illness.
Last week’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, happened just 10 days after the racist hate murder in Buffalo, NY when another teenager, also equipped with an assault rifle and wearing body armour, murdered 10 African Americans in the name of white supremacy, a racist ideology sweeping the radical right of the nation.
Like the Buffalo shooting, the killing of 19 children and two adults in a small town in Texas, with a 16,000 population of mainly Hispanics, has met with an outpouring of loving thoughts and prayers. Just like the loving thoughts and prayers showered after the killing of 26 toddlers in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, and every other mass shooting since.
As I am writing, there are early reports of another shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, leaving four dead imcluding the shooter and three others, wounded, one in critical condition.
This epidemic of killing innocent toddlers on a depressingly regular basis is a source of heart-breaking grief for the immediate families of the innocent and much-loved victims, their babies, from which they will never recover. It is also a constant source of terror for any parent or grandparent, uncle or aunt, and all those of us who love our own children as they go to school in America every single day. We will also never stop feeling that terror on a daily basis, as there is simply no doubt that there will be yet another school shooting, sooner than later.
America is a nation that is numb to the killing of toddlers and children. Politicians do nothing to control such shootings through a false interpretation of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. A false interpretation, called by the Republican Chief Justice in the 1990s, Warren Burger, as “the greatest fraud ever perpetrated against the American people”, a fraud committed by political corruption and corporate greed.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1791, reads:
“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.
Such a well-regulated militia, in the form of the National Guard, exists in each state today. The reference to the rights of the people to keep and bear arms was intended as a deterrent against the federal government infringing on the rights of the 13 colonies. The Second Amendment did not give the right to every American to possess guns. Also the “arms” referred to in those days were muskets, not the military style killing machines available today to anyone over 18-years old, sadistic lunatics, criminals, domestic and other abusers, anyone, at the local Walmart, no questions asked.
The Republicans in the Senate have refused to pass a bill, approved by the House this year, calling for regular background checks on gun purchases, a protective measure that has the support of 90% of all Americans, including Republicans.
After the Texas shooting, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy made an impassioned appeal, obviously aimed at the Republican Party and the National Rifle Association, on the Senate floor. Extracts:
“What are you doing? Why are we here? This isn’t inevitable. These kids weren’t unlucky. This only happens in this country, and nowhere else. Nowhere else do kids go to school thinking they might be shot that day.
“Nowhere does that happen except in the United States of America. And it is a choice. It our choice to let it continue.
“Our heart is breaking for these families. Every ounce of love and prayers we can send, we are sending.
“But I am here on this floor to beg, to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues.
“I understand my Republican colleagues will not agree to everything that I may support. But there is a common denominator that we can find”.
This lowest common denominator envisaged are of a waiting period and comprehensive background checks before purchase, raising of the minimum age of purchasers of all guns to 21 and a ban on the sales of military style weapons, sensible precautions favoured by 90% of all Americans. So long as the NRA has control over 50 Republican Senators, and until the cult of White Supremacists are driven back into the woodwork, these restrictions will never be enacted.
“There is a place we can find agreement”, concluded Senator Murphy.
Actually, there isn’t. There never will be any restrictions on the purchase of any type of weaponry, until the NRA loses control of Republican congressmen.
President Biden was on the aircraft returning from Asia when he heard the news. He agreed that the Democrats must, even at this late stage, stop posturing and start acting. Outraged denunciations against the NRA purchased Republicans won’t prevent the next slaughter in an elementary school, a Black supermarket, an Asian Church of a Jewish Synagogue.
During his speech, Biden said, “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to this gun lobby? When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”
The President reflected on the victims. “There are parents who will never be the same. To lose a child is to have a piece of your soul ripped away forever.
“I’ve spent my career working to pass common-sense gun laws. We know that mass shootings went down when we passed the assault weapons ban” (a moratorium on the use of assault rifles imposed by President Clinton in 1992, with a sunset clause of 10 years. A ban that reduced gun violence by 50% through 2002, when President Bush decided not to renew the ban. Gun violence tripled in the remaining years of the Bush presidency.
“It’s time to turn this pain into action for every parent and every citizen in this country.”
There are a few silver linings in these dark clouds of domestic terrorism. Sensible gun regulations have the support of 90% majority of all Americans. The recent Supreme Court leaked opinion to abolish the women’s right of reproductive freedom has 80% of all Americans protesting against the proposed ruling. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, all Americans. And most significantly, while the despicable Trump still holds complete sway amongst his current Republican minions, he seems to be losing the support of traditional conservatives, as the former president’s criminal activities, including treason, are being unravelled.
However, if these reforms are to ever take place in the country, it will be, at the certainty of a Civil War which will make the January 6 white supremacist insurrection a peaceful walk in the park.
There are 400+ million guns in the hands of civilians in America, in a population of 330 million men, women and children. Of these, 50% or200 million firearms are held by 3%, or 10 million people, consisting of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, religious fanatics and Trump MAGA trash. There will be no lack of firepower in the event of such civil violence.
Civil War II will be fought on the exact same issue as Civil War I, even after two centuries of legal and societal progress – the struggle for the perpetuation of white supremacy in America, which is now under threat by the probability of a white minority by 2050.
Also, the numbers of today’s Tulsa shooting are now four dead, including the shooter, and 10 wounded.And there is a single parenthesis at the end of the 8th paragraph which should be deleted.