When Will These Massacres Stop??

By Steven Gan
A personal perspective  High_Capacity_Magazine_100-Shot_AR-15_M16_Box_Magazine_1

A few weeks ago, I was planning to write for this month’s issue about the Trump University debacle in which the shameful presumptive GOP nominee outrageously claimed that Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel was biased and a Trump “hater” because of Trump’s promise to build the wall of walls between the U.S. and Mexico.

I’m sick and tired of this self-aggrandizing and narcissistic low-life attempting to assassinate the character of anyone with whom he disagrees. The fact that Judge Curiel has had an exemplary career, not only as a judge, but also as prosecutor who put his life on the line by prosecuting the leaders of Mexican drug cartels, was less relevant to Trump than where the judge’s parents happened to have been born.

Although I have much more to say on this subject, events require that I turn my thoughts to the unfortunate victims of the Orlando shooting. I’ve been in such a terrible funk regarding this last mass shooting at the Orlando gay nightclub, Pulse, I can’t tell if I’m depressed, angry, or numb. To say that we Americans have been down this road countless times before is such a worn-out cliché—except that, this time, we’ve set a new record for the number of innocent people who have lost their lives for no reason at all.

While watching the talking heads on cable news either condemn the sale of assault rifles or insist that the Second Amendment protects civilian ownership of weapons of mass murder, I was struck by two frightening truths.  First, as long as Republicans have sufficient power in Congress, and the NRA can keep Republicans in line, there is little hope of enacting sensible measures to reduce gun violence.  And, second, this means that even the horrific mass shooting record set in Orlando is likely to be broken one day.

I can’t imagine what those families are going through. Their young son, daughter, parent, brother, or sister go out to a club for a little fun and end up dead. I can’t imagine how parents can go on with such a horrific tragedy weighing down on their emotional shoulders every day. Don’t the powers behind the NRA have sons, daughters, parents, brothers, and sisters?

One of the pieces to this tragedy is that although the shooter had been on a no-fly list, he was still able to obtain a gun without any special scrutiny. Although we can all agree that those who are suspected of being terrorists should not board airplanes, the NRA has asserted that restricting the ability of those same individuals to purchase firearms would be an infringement of their constitutional rights. I can’t cope with this irrational and selfish line of logic.

Guns enable, empower, and enfranchise those who should not have them to perpetrate heinous crimes. There’s no excuse for a system that allows anyone with any kind of mental instability or criminal behavior in their background to obtain a firearm, let alone one that can fire hundreds of bullets a minute. Firearms like the semi-automatic rifle that was used by the shooter in Orlando were banned for ten years, in the 1990s, until, under pressure from the NRA, the ban was allowed to expire during the Bush administration. Since then, tens of thousands of these firearms have been purchased throughout the country.  For what?  For protection?  That’s what our police and armed forces are trained for.  For hunting?  To decimate a squirrel with a hundred bullets?  No, these are weapons designed to kill a large number of people quickly and efficiently.  Where in the Constitution is there a right to kill people?

As Richard Martinez stated after his 20-year-old son, Christopher, was killed in May 2014 along with five other innocents: “Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA.”

Yes, we are at the mercy of craven Republican politicians who flinch when the NRA says flinch. Only when we get rid of the NRA’s stranglehold on more than half of our elected leaders will we be able to begin the process of making this country safer, more secure, and truly free—free for those of us who might want to go to a club for a little dancing and not worry about some crazy nut mowing us down with an assault weapon.


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