We awoke yesterday to the news of a horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas. We had prepared this week’s call to action to protest the Republican tax plan. That is an important issue which we will speak to in due time. Today we should all take action to begin the long, complicated struggle to reverse the plague of mass gun violence that is sweeping America.
And, please, don’t forget Puerto Rico. After this week’s Call to Action we recommend a few worthy organizations working on the ground to bring relief to the 3.4 million United States citizens suffering from centuries of colonization and the catastrophe of two monstrous hurricanes.
The headlines shock us with the death toll of this week’s “most deadly mass shooting in history” yet we all know that next week at the soonest, next year at the latest there will be yet another “most deadly” shooting that interrupts the daily morning flow. But these mass murder events are only the tip of the iceberg of death that results from America’s obsession with weaponry. The Gun Violence Archive reports 273 mass shootings in 2017 as of October 1 and 46,597 incidents of any kind of gun violence for the same time period.
Immediately after each tragedy large enough to get media notice we are treated to an avalanche of “thoughts and prayers” heaped on the victims via TV and Twitter. Not long after that the NRA, its advocates and political minions sternly declare that “now is not the time to debate gun laws, now is the time to help the victims.” TV and radio news generally follow the NRA’s lead and turn to stories about the “terrorist” (usually a Muslim, person of color or refugee) or the “lone wolf shooter” (white man). These stories have consumed us for years but they miss the real story:
Guns do indeed kill people. People without guns – whether terrorists or psychopaths - cannot kill as many as perpetrators with guns. Unregulated ownership of military armaments cause mass death of innocent people.
Nothing in the Constitution keeps us from having sane gun regulation. The Las Vegas shooting is a textbook case of the kind of killing that the NRA’s lobbying has made inevitable and unstoppable in the moment. The killer amassed an arsenal of 10 high-powered rifles with high capacity magazines that made it possible – these are the weapons of warfare, not of sport shooting. At this moment we have lost control of the conversation about guns and violence in America. It will be a long hard legislative journey to reestablish a sane approach to gun ownership – mandatory background checks, limitations on military style anti-civilian weapons and court ordered surrender of firearms in domestic violence cases are all part of the solution. For today we can begin with maintaining one of the few regulations that now work for us – keeping silencers out of the hands of terrorists and psychopaths alike.
Led by the President’s oldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., Congressional Republicans are seeking to remove restrictions on the sale and use of “silencers” that suppress the noise of firing guns. The same legislation allows people to use a concealed carry permit from one state in another state – one which might well have tighter regulations and better criminal background checks.
The sound of gunfire is one of the only signals to people on the ground that someone in the area is shooting. The Las Vegas assault was launched into a noisy crowd attending a music festival at night. The sound of gunfire alerted people to the attack. giving some the chance to get to safety while mobilizing the police to action. Many more might have died or been injured by a silent attack.
This deeply perverse piece of legislation on silencers goes to the floor of the House of Representatives as part of the Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement, or SHARE Act. The silencer provisions are cynically titled The Hearing Protection Act. The notion that this bill is meant to protect the hearing of hunters is a cruel pretense. There has never been any meaningful effort to study or encourage the use of ear protection among hunters.
Call To Action
- Call your Representative and Senators to tell them that you oppose legalizing silencers and allowing concealed carry permits to be used across state lines. Emphasize that you support other common sense gun regulations. While moderate Democrats in the Senate are the last line of defense against this inhumane bill, it is important to call your Republican Representatives and Senators, they are important to the course of gun regulation in the long run.
- Talk to your state senators and representatives. These same laws come up in front of State Legislatures every year. The NRA has been relentless in pushing its agenda of full deregulation of the weapons of war. We must become equally relentless in keeping the issue before the public.