I'm a gun owner. I want common-sense gun safety regulation. What is currently under debate in the US Congress is less than adequate, yet it certainly is better than nothing. If the assault weapons ban had not been allowed to lapse, Adam Lanza (the Newtown shooter) would not have had access to the weapon and 30-round clips he used to murder so many people in less than five minutes. I was upset when the ban was allowed to lapse; first, I couldn't understand why it had a "lapse date" in the first place. For another, the Vice President at the time supported renewing it. Yes, Dick Cheney supported the assault weapon ban. And yet, Congress was so gutless that it was allowed to lapse. The President nor the Vice President back then provided any leadership on the issue, and neither the Republicans nor Democrats seemed to pay a price for their cowardice.
How many hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from gun violence since that happened? Certainly not all of them would have been alive today if we had never decided to allow civilians to own military-style assault weapons, extended magazines, and armor-penetrating bullets. Guns designed to kill lots of people, as quickly as possible. However, many of the mass shootings which have so shocked the nation and the world would not have happened, or at least had fewer dead.
Now we have a chance. We have a President willing to spend his political capital on gun regulation, rather than privatizing Medicare. We have a Vice President willing to spend lots of time and energy on fact-gathering, dialogue with those on both sides of the argument. We have great new groups newly-energized, and willing to spend money and energy to fight the pernicious influence of the NRA.
I want to talk a bit about the NRA. I grew up looking at Daddy's American Riflemen magazines, which were mostly interesting to me because of the photos of gorgeous countryside and animals. I knew Daddy had hunted in the past, but he never shot Bambi while I lived at home. Later he did do some moose hunting in Canada, and I loved eating some of that meat. Back in those days, the NRA stood for the average hunter, and marksman. Sure, there were a few ads for guns, but it seemed that the money Dad sent them was spent on hunter safety classes and such. In those days, the NRA stood for gun safety, in extreme contrast to its present stance. Why the difference? I think it's the source of money. They claim four million members, but the vast predominance of money in the organization comes from gun manufacturers. They actually have protected the gun manufacturers from civil suits! Can you imagine how much more unsafe our cars would be if the car manufacturers were safe from being sued? This fact shocked me, and shows to me what they really care about; the money from their patrons, the gun manufacturers -- no longer the average gun owner.
If you care about this issue, contact your Representatives and Senators. If do not have contact information, the League of Women Voters have the easiest way to find out: http://www.lwvwa.org/who_represents.html.
Or simply call the the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (the phone number is (202) 224-3121 locally or toll-free 1-800-962-3524 nationally) and ask for a particular legislator. You can even just leave a short message with the operator. This week, legislators are in their home districts, so you can call or visit their local office if you prefer.
We can allow nothing to happen, or we can provide the impetus for change, if we act. Let's do so.
PS: When gun manufacturers are again subject to suit, I'll be more satisfied.