“I have learned to live each day as it comes, and not to borrow trouble by dreading tomorrow. It is the dark menace of the future that makes cowards of us.” -Dorothy Dix
There’s an eerily familiar sound of silence in the halls and walls of Congress. This lack of noise means mass death has come to Americans as a result of gun violence. On October 1st, 2015, a gunman opened fire inside a classroom at a rural Oregon community college, killing at least 10 people before committing suicide.
As we learn more about the shooter and the tragic details of the incident, we again see the Republican led Congress ignore the blood of children and young college students. We know that they will not pass any new gun control laws or comprehensive background checks on gun owners. We have seen that it doesn’t matter to this Congress that gun violence is occurring with regularity in the streets of Chicago and in the enclaves of4 suburban America. The size and scope of the tragedy is irrelevant and the tears that stream down the faces of family and friends of loved ones lost is of little significance. We are a nation under siege from within and the ineffectual Congress stands idly by in a recoiled position of fear from the National Rifle Association, gun manufacturers and gun toting enthusiasts who hide behind a narrow interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.
President Obama’s follow-up press conference on the Oregon shooting showed a man who was visibly frustrated and saddened about the ongoing mass killings inflicting our nation. Obama lamented how ‘routine’ the deaths, condolences, subsequent media coverage and political inaction has become. Obama spoke with an arsenal of statistics that counter the gun lobby’s irrationality, the ignored common sense of a majority gun owners who support strengthened federal gun laws and the need to address the hibernation of Congress members on this issue with the power of voting them out of office. Obama has rightfully concluded that this Congress will not do anything to move significant gun legislation to enhance public health and safety. And if Americans care deeply about this issue, the ballot box is the best form of expression for change.
Is President’s Obama’s extreme cynicism without merit? Let us examine some statistics and Republican commentary on the issue of guns and gun legislation. The Center for Disease Control reports in 2013, there were 33,804 gunrelated deaths in the United States. Politifact reports there were 10 incidents since Sandy Hook in December 2012 in which the shooter intended to commit mass murder. Gun Violence Archive details hundreds of mass shootings that have occurred across the country this year. In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, Senate Minority Leader at the time -- Mitch McConnell led a successful filibuster that defeated new gun legislation. There has been one gun law passed since 2012, the renewal of the expiring ban on plastic firearms that can evade airport detection machines. And of course, the NRA did not oppose this legislation.
Jennifer Bendery, from the Huffington Post provided some enlightening quotes from -- primarily -- Republican Senators in the immediate aftermath of the latest gun tragedy in Roseburg, Oregon and their unwillingness to take on new gun laws and expand background checks. Ms. Bendery also provided data that illustrates background checks has helped curb gun violence and reduced access of guns to individuals. But here are some of the Senate (low) highlights on this issue:
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said: "There's no point in passing laws to restrict access to firearms because criminals are always going to get guns."
"It's been shown that it really wouldn't," said Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.). "The people who have committed these horrific crimes would never have been stopped by a background check."
As the number of shootings and deaths grow exponentially in the United States, this Republican led Congress, with the complicity of a few democrats with "A" NRA ratings, will most likely have enough votes to stymie any proposed gun legislation in the near future. These politicians can be called many things, but the one word that immediately comes to mind is cowards.
Merriam-Webster describes a coward this way: "Someone who is too afraid to do what is right or expected : someone who is not at all brave or courageous".
America, this is your United States Congress.