I’m a liberal woman living in one of the nation’s largest and most dangerous cities (Chicago), in possession of a healthy dose of conservative skepticism. So it might follow for some that I’m also an unapologetic gun control advocate. But this should not be confused, as the extreme right and its media apparatus would argue, with a Second Amendment enemy. I think several agents have done yeoman’s work in contextualizing the gun debate as an either/or proposition. I reject this out of hand.
It’s possible to be a big fan of the Constitution in general, while recognizing the other rights that need to co-exist with the one permitting us to bear arms – such as the right to life. For several decades now, it’s been abundantly clear the balance is off, that the proliferation of weapons is the largest threat to that sacred right to live without being murdered in public (or private, for that matter).
At the time of this post’s publication, there have been 305 mass executions in 2015. This is a uniquely, grotesquely American statistic. The website Mass Shooting Tracker has taken up the unenviable work of cataloguing all the unnecessary bloodshed. What struck me most about this list, beyond the high number of incidents (because to live in America is to grow inured to the shock that citizens of other nations experience in the face of similar abundance), is the field labeled “Alleged Shooter.” In an overwhelming number of public shooting cases, the assailant is listed as “Unknown.”
In years of writing about guns and the deleterious effects of a Second Amendment run amok, I’ve only encountered one lobby. One that uses all its money, political clout and considerable fear mongering capabilities to trample the voices of reasoned dissent. The one with the Executive Vice President fond of repeating the absurd argument that “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.” The National Rifle Association.
How are we to use any tool to stop a bad guy spraying a crowd with bullets if we don’t know who he is, even after all the bodies have been collected and buried?
305 times this year a group of families has been called to identify the remains of loved ones, to grieve, to explain to children why we allow these things to happen repeatedly. There are no good answers to provide because no matter what the NRA, the derelict, ambulance-chasing media or the pocketed politicians under LaPierre’s thumb tell us, we don’t have to live like this. Finally there are strong signs emerging that collectively, we’ve had enough – of the killing and of the vested interests that say there’s nothing to be done.
Earlier this week, a new Gallup survey was released, indicating that “55 percent [of us] want more restrictive gun control guidelines, a total up from 49 percent the year before.” The reason for the six percent jump? Mass shooting fatigue.
But surely these respondents were just a bunch of freedom hating, liberal heretics. Afraid not, NRA. According to writer Mark Hensch of The Hill, “43 percent of respondents say they have a gun somewhere in their household, with 28 percent declaring they personally own a firearm.” Many, many sensible gun owners would like to see the same level of rationality applied to public policy. And at least one Democratic 2016 Presidential contender is listening.
Earlier this month, Hilary Clinton announced a gun control plan that according to Think Progress writer Kira Lerner, has real teeth:
“[Clinton] will advocate for comprehensive federal background check legislation, but if that fails, she has vowed to take administrative action to tighten the gun show and internet sales loophole. Her plan also calls for repealing a law which prevents victims of gun violence from suing gun manufacturers and pushing for legislation to prevent domestic abusers from buying guns.”
I don’t know how any person of reason could be against this approach. But right on queue here comes the NRA asserting that Clinton’s real goal is “gun confiscation.” What this country has long needed is a counter-voice to this one-note insanity. And one group, with the financial backing of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is answering the call. Meet The Other Gun Lobby – Everytown for Gun Safety. Per a recent CNN profile:
“Their focus is on field operations, to mobilize their 3 million members on this single issue and then get supporters to the polls. They steal tactics from the National Rifle Association and study other groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving that have won victories against massive industries.
They gather in cities around the country to learn how to target policymakers and stay unified. They plan rallies and organize on social media. They circle states where change is most possible. They work with the Brady Campaign and Gabby Giffords’ organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions, on federal legislation. They’ve found an ally in the White House.
They are the ‘other’ gun lobby, unafraid of the NRA and its fervent backers.”
Hell yes. The only thing that stops a cynical operation profiting from the death of innocent Americans is a positive operation, sick of the killing and ready to fight for change. Does the media possess the courage to cover the growing chorus of regular Americans calling for it?