LET’S MAKE GUNS NO LONGER SACRED
Led by the acolytes of the NRA, gun lovers have made almost a religion out of the right to bear arms. Many of them fervently religious in their quest to protect guns, even to make gun ownership more widespread. Constantly playing on fears—anxiety about rising crimes rates, fear of big government and Islamic terrorists—they perpetuate the idea that their right to own guns is constantly under threat. After each mass shooting in the U.S. people rush to buy more guns, “before Obama closes down the gun shops.”
Recent statements by Republican candidates for President leave little hope that sanity will prevail any time soon. Donald Trump reminds us that the tragedy of the attacks in Paris (Nov., 2015) could have been prevented, had each and every Frenchman on the streets been packing a weapon. Ben Carson, who, if possible, has proven himself even a bigger goofball than Trump, is quoted as saying, “I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.”
The situation sometimes appears hopeless, but there are a few glimmers of hope. Since the tragedy of Newtown, Connecticut, the landscape is slowly changing. Gun control is gaining more and more grassroots support. Michael Bloomberg has a new Super PAC, Independence USA. He is spending big money backing gun-control candidates and has pledged $50 million to the cause. In addition, the NRA is becoming slightly less effective in making or breaking politicians. In some purple states senators blacklisted by the NRA have been re-elected.
It is telling that in 2015 the leading Democratic Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, has dared to embrace gun control. In light of what consummate politicians the Clintons are, if they thought this issue would cost them the Presidency, they would certainly shy away from it, as have candidates of both parties in recent years.
But if the tide is finally turning, it remains at a very slow ebb. “A Pew survey last December found that a majority of Americans thought protecting gun rights was more important than gun control. Fifteen years before, the same poll found that sixty-six percent of Americans thought that gun control mattered more. And last year, despite all the new money and the grassroots campaigns, states passed more laws expanding gun rights than restricting them.”
(Quoted material, as well as many of the facts above, come from an article by James Surowiecki in The New Yorker, Oct. 19, 2015, p. 29)