When one of President Ronald Reagan’s most trusted advisors, James Brady, was shot in 1981, it created momentum in the U.S. Congress to pass a ban on assault weapons, over the objections of Wayne LaPierre and his National Rifle Association, showing that one man can make a difference.
But the ban expired years later, when the shock of a presidential aide being shot had worn off.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if one man again had an impact on resurrecting the ban in the person of LaPierre, who is resigning from the NRA after 30 years?
The powerful LaPierre is accused of living high on the hog, using NRA donations to do so.
With him on the sidelines, could the weakened NRA lose the next round?
While we wait for that storyline to unfold in the nation’s capital, back home in the state Capitol, there’s been an important development on the prohibition of assault weapons here.
“Personally, I think it would be the right thing to do.”
For the first time, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has checked in on the proposed ban, and, if the polling data is correct, she’s got lots of company.
A majority of Michigan voters want that, and that includes some gun owners and supposed NRA members who live Up North.
Last year at this time, the newly installed Democrat-controlled Legislature launched a gun control mission, and, when the smoke cleared, there were new laws the Republican-controlled Legislature had steadfastly refused to vote on for 40 years.
Those new laws included lock boxes for weapons in the home, beefed-up background checks before weapons could be purchased, and so-called “red flag laws” giving the courts the power to remove weapons from those who might use them for the wrong reasons.
But there was nary a peep about moving from that low-hanging fruit to outlawing high-powered, multi-bulleted weapons of choice for mass murders.
Back in 2017, such a shooter sitting in the window of a high-rise Las Vegas hotel fired at hundreds of persons attending a music festival below as he picked them off like ducks in a pond. When they counted the injured, there were more than 500, and 58 body bags were also needed to carry off the dead.
Whitmer reflects: “I do think that weapons of war do not make sense and for sale to the average persons in the public. I do have a problem with that, and I would be very open to having that dialogue.”
The law enforcement community is mostly on board with that, as they are on the front lines of battling those weapons now in the hands of so many users on the streets.
The education community charged with protecting your kids when they are in school is on board as the headlines continue with what seems like one school shooting after another.
So what are the prospects for an assault weapon ban in the new legislative year?
The Michigan House is divided, with 54 votes for each party. That means no bill can pass until and unless one party member or the other crosses over to vote with the other side.
The state House has a long history of many Republicans and some Democrats backing the NRA, but the gun safety lobby is counting on using this election year as a way to persuade at least some to vote yes.
That lobby could run ads, especially in districts where either one party or the other could win, claiming Rep. Y is against a ban on assault weapons, which means someone could use one to enter your child’s school.
With the governor favoring such a ban, it’s a good bet she would sign such legislation.
That’s if the absence of LaPierre from the debate and the fear of some legislators losing their seats — aka political self preservation — clears the way for some pro-gun lawmakers to cough up a yes vote.