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Have We Had Enough Gun Violence Yet to Finally Mean ‘Enough’?

While we seem to finally be gaining ground on the COVID-19 pandemic, there is one public health crisis to which we appear powerless.

That is the epidemic of gun violence.

Once again, the United States has suffered through a rash of mass shootings.

According to gunviolencearchive.org, there have been 11 incidents that qualify as mass shootings in the past week, 104 to date this year.

Not all of those incidents resulted in fatalities, yet two were extremely deadly.

The Young’s Asian Massage shooting in Acworth, Georgia on March 16 took eight lives.

On Monday, a massacre at King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo. killed 10.

With a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress for the first time in over a decade, we have the potential to see progressive legislation to make it easier to vote, join unions, update our infrastructure to combat climate change, address systemic racism in law enforcement, make the rich finally pay taxes, and jump-start the economy while ending the pandemic.

But today we ask ourselves — again — whether we, as a nation, have the legislative fortitude to institute sensible gun laws to stanch the bloodbath.

On Tuesday, President Biden urged Congress to pass two bills that have already passed the House of Representatives — one to expand background checks, another to renew prohibitions on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Biden stated:

“This is not and should not be a partisan issue. This is an American issue…I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act.”

The same day, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing at which Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called gun violence a “public health crisis.

But if we think this is finally Republicans’ “come- to-Jesus moment,” we need to remember it is the party that wants to make it harder to vote but easier to obtain guns.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz attacked Sen. Durbin’s label, mocking:

“Every time there’s a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders.”

The sad thing is, Cruz may be right.

Even with the Democrats in the majority, the Senate still has the anachronistic filibuster albatross hanging around its neck.

As Axios points out:

“Any gun control legislation, including the two background check bills passed by the House last week, would need 60 votes to pass in the 50–50 Senate. Biden did not make reference to eliminating the filibuster, which progressives have called on Senate Democrats to do.”

Consider the Boulder shooting occurred less than a week after the National Rifle Association (NRA) reveled in successfully striking down an assault weapons ban where?

In Boulder, Colorado.

Everyone of the top-20 recipients of gun rights lobby money is a Republican.

Of the $9,119,640 the NRA gave in political contributions, $743,771 went to Republicans while $8,359,761 went to Conservatives.

98% of total so-called “gun rights” industry lobbying money went to Republicans.

So, with a system of unlimited political bribery in full career as never before, why would we suddenly expect the Republican party (supposedly “pro-life”) to choose people and ethics over this much free money?

If common sense doesn’t seem to be able to break a decade of gridlock over gun violence; if mounting deaths of children in school, patrons of movie theaters, concerts, houses of worship, and grocery stores isn’t working, maybe it’s time to take away the shield behind which the gun lobby and the politicians they own hide.

Maybe it’s time to repeal the Second Amendment:

“A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

As progressive talk show host and author of The Hidden History of Gun and the Second Amendment, Thom Hartmann, writes:

“The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says ‘State’ instead of ‘Country’ (the Framers knew the difference — see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the Southern states, an action necessary to get Virginia’s vote to ratify the Constitution.

“It had nothing whatsoever to do with making sure mass murderers could shoot up public venues and schools. Founders including Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that, and we all should be too.

“In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South they were called ‘slave patrols,’ and were regulated by the states.

“In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state. The law defined which counties had which armed militias and required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.”

Like the filibuster, 911, the Electoral College, the prison industrial complex, and funding public education through property taxes, the sacrosanct Second Amendment, excerpts of which many love to cite yet few have actually read, needs to go.

The canard that “our founders wanted us to have guns to be able to defend ourselves from a tyrannical government” is something the gun lobby picked up and ran with decades ago.

It is not in the Constitution.

It’s a myth.

The individual gun ownership decision came from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 with the Heller vs. District of Columbia case.

With the tide turning in America after the November election, we have causes for optimism.

Perhaps we will see the assault weapons ban re-instated after former president George W. Bush allowed it to lapse.

No Democrats are advocating taking people’s guns.

All we’re calling for is keeping weapons of war out of civilians’ hands.

Most responsible gun owners favor this stance.

No more “thoughts and prayers.”

Action.

Call your representatives: 202–224–3121.

Ted Millar is a teacher, poet, and political writer for Liberal Nation Rising, Liberal America, and the Left Place blog.

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