“What’s the Republican death quota? …
“What’s the Republican death quota? …
The killing of children and other innocents continues, and the Republicans and their cronies continue to shamelessly stand with the gun manufacturers and their lacky, the NRA – rather than with the children and other victims. In what moral universe is this acceptable or justifiable?
I’ve written on this topic before, but sadly, the issue remains relevant. It’s reported that there have been 146 mass shootings so far in 2023 and over 200 people – many of them children – have been killed in mass shootings so far in 2023. And we’re only three-and-a-half months into the year! As I write this, on the heels of the Nashville, Tennessee mass shooting, in which three nine-year-old children were slaughtered, there was a mass shooting that claimed five lives in Louisville, Kentucky. So, as long as it’s relevant, I’ll keep writing about it.
Politicians with a spine can stop the killing …
The issue of gun reform aimed at protecting innocents, including – especially! – children, from being gunned down by an AR-15 or similar weapon is not a matter of politics, of ideology. It is a matter of decency, of humanity, of responsibility, of love. The supporters of the gun manufacturers and their lacky, the NRA, have their priorities all screwed up. In certain states — Texas, for example – people cannot purchase a simple handgun, or a pack of cigarettes or a beer, or rent a car until he or she is 21 years old. Yet, an 18-year-old can purchase – no questions asked – an AR-15 killing machine.
A bedrock piece of the Republican pro-gun mantra is: “What stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Reality gives the lie to this nonsense. In the Buffalo mass shooting, there was a good guy with a gun who shot at the killer (who was wearing a bullet-proof vest), who went on to kill 10 innocents. In Uvalde there were 19 good guys with guns, and they were not able to stop the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers.
A more realistic assertion is a sign seen at a pro-children rally: “What stops a bad guy with a gun are politicians with spines…”
Another foundational aspect of the Republicans pro-gun mantra is to blame “mental health” and to call for more mental health services. They do that with a straight face even as they run roughshod over mental health services. For example, in 2017, the Trump administration cut $400 million from mental health programs. And Trump and the Republicans tried every which way to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Had they succeeded, millions of people would have lost access to mental-health services. Insisting that we must focus on better provision of mental health services, Texas Governor Abbott blames “mental health” for the Uvalde massacre. Yet, over the last few years, he has cut over $200 million from the unit in charge of mental health services in Texas.
It’s all about the money…
What it’s really about is the money. With their fat wallets, the gun manufacturers and their lacky, the NRA, and the NRA’s lackies – go shopping at the Republican store. And they walk out with bags full of votes. Since 1998, the gun lobby has invested circa $190 million in lobbying efforts. A good chunk of that, over $50 million, were contributions to federal candidates and party committees. Of that $50-plus million, 99% went to Republicans.
The biggest shill for the gun manufacturers and their lacky, the NRA, and the NRA’s lackies is U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R- Texas). Not surprisingly, Cruz has received the most money (circa $442,000) from the gun lobby. Other Texas Republicans also wallow in the gun lobby’s mud pit, viz.: U.S. Senator John Cornyn, circa $340,000 … U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, circa $208,000, and U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, circa $126,000.
Many more millions have been invested by the gun lobby, particularly the NRA, in indirect spending in support and in opposition of specific candidates / politicians. Indirect spending includes such things as advertising in political convention or event programs, purchase of tables at political dinners, in-kind contributions of goods / services, etc.
A full treatment of the gun lobby’s purchase of the Republican Party is beyond the scope of this blog, but the above provides a good glimpse of the pay-for-play dynamics at work.
AR-15s are not “sporting” rifles…
The AR-15 rifle was developed for the military. It was never meant for civilian use. The military did not order the manufacture of these rifles so as to issue them to soldiers so that they could go hunt deer or elk. Let’s get this straight: the AR-15 is not a “sporting” rifle. The AR-15 is a combat weapon whose sole purpose it is to kill people and as many as possible as quickly as possible. Period.
The AR-15 rifles and their variants that are purchased by civilians are semiautomatic—one bullet is fired every time the trigger is pulled. Bullets are fed into the rifle via a 50-plus bullet magazine. But “semiautomatic” is a technicality. These rifles can be easily converted to fully automatic weapons by means of cheap and easily obtainable devices known as “bump stocks.” The Las Vegas murderer did exactly that, allowing him to murder 58 people and injure over 500 in a matter of a few minutes.
As noted, AR-15 style rifles are not “sporting” rifles – they are combat weapons whose only purpose it is to kill people and as many as possible as quickly as possible. And like hand grenades, they should not be available to civilians. Hand grenades are regulated under the National Firearms Act (“NFA”), a federal law first passed in 1934 and amended by the Crime Control Act of 1968. The 1968 amendments made it illegal to possess “destructive devices,” which includes grenades.
AR-15 style rifles are most definitely “destructive devices.” Because the bullet from an AR-15 rifle leaves the muzzle at three times the speed of a handgun bullet, it has plenty of energy to “distribute” inside the body upon impact. A single bullet from an AR-15 rifle can blow apart a skull and pulverize bone and tissue, demolishing vital organs. The impact is even greater on the compact body of a small child.
Banning AR-15-type rifles saves lives…
The indisputable fact is that banning AR-15-type rifles saves lives. In 1994, Democrats passed and President Bill Clinton signed an assault-weapons ban, which banned the AR-15 and other similar semiautomatic rifles as well as large-capacity magazines. It bears noting that a mass shooting at an elementary school led to the ban, viz.:
On January 17, 1989, a 24-year-old person, reportedly angry at the arrival of Asian immigrants into Stockton, CA, took his AR-15-type rifle to a local elementary school and in a few minutes fired off 105 rounds at the children on the playground for recess. Five students – all of Asian descent – were killed and 30 others, including a teacher, were injured.
The law banning assault rifles expired in 2004. A 2019 study by New York University’s School of Medicine found that mass shooting deaths involving assault weapons decreased during the 10 years the federal assault weapon ban was in place and then rose dramatically in the decade that followed, after the law had expired.
Even this evidence that assault-weapon bans save lives is not enough to move Republican policy makers to stand with the children and other innocents rather than with the gun manufacturers and their lacky, the NRA.
Republican pettiness and racism create heroes and martyrs…
In Tennessee, the Republican-controlled legislature went so far as to expel two legislators who stood with children and their parents, teachers, clergy, and others who were –peacefully – petitioning the legislature to address the issue of gun violence in light of the Nashville mass shooting, in which three nine-year-old children were slaughtered.
Democratic Representatives Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson left the legislative chamber – during a recess – to join the children et al. and lend their support to the call for gun reform. For having the audacity to support the children and their allies (many of whom were Pearson’s, Johnson’s, and Jones’ constituents) the Republican majority decided to expel the Democratic representatives for the “crime” of leaving the chamber without permission – never mind that the body was in recess. And while they were at it, the Republican majority decided to throw in some old-school Jim Crow racism. Jones and Pearson are black, and Johnson is white. Although all three Democratic representatives did exactly the same thing, the Republican majority voted to expel only the two black representatives.
But their racist pettiness backfired. People throughout Tennessee were outraged, especially young people (Jones and Pearson are both 27 years old). They and their (multi-generational, multi-racial) allies rallied, verbally excoriated the Republicans, and vowed to fight them at the ballot box. Voter registrations soared, especially among young Tennesseans. The Republicans made martyrs and heroes of Jones and Pearson. Both were re-appointed to their seats by their respective city councils. A week after their expulsion, they are back at their desks in the legislature.
How many children must be slaughtered before the Republicans in power at the state and federal levels get in line with the American people with respect to passing sensible gun laws? Solid majorities – ranging from 57% (assault rifle ban) to 89% (background checks for public and private gun sales) – of the American people favor sensible gun laws. The present situation is a classic example of the tail wagging the dog. We need to change that dysfunctional and shameful dynamic. c/s
Copyright 2023 by Sal Baldenegro. Photo of Uvalde graves copyright by Angela Valenzuela and used with permission. Mass shooting chart compiled by Latinopia. All other photos in this posting are in the public domain. To contact Sal write: email@example.com