Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bump Stocks and the Florida Shooting



Ten and then, seven more.


That's the number of people killed in the most recent horrific, obscene shooting in our nation.  Horrific and obscene evidence of our national blood-pact with the National Rifle Association and the arms manufacturers for which the NRA is simply a sock-puppet.  No longer does the NRA actually represent hunters as it's primary demographic, but instead their primary demographic is an industry desperate to make more and more sales, desperate because manufacturers have seen flagging sales after the election of Donald Trump to the presidency.  Those sales have flagged because the NRA spent 8 years telling the nation, especially the rabid gun nuts, that President Obama was just about to unleash the ATF and FBI to come take their guns.

So, the NRA is seeking to prevent legal activity which closes loop-holes which would curtail straw-buying.  They may say otherwise, but make no mistake, the NRA is aware that the guns in Chicago, the most awful example of gang-related gun violence in the US, are bought outside the Chicago city limits by straw-buyers and transported into Chicago (a drive of a couple of miles) and sold.  They are aware that the best self-defense weapons aren't assault rifles, but instead shotguns (for power) or small(ish) handguns (for ease of carry).  Yet, the adamantly oppose any limitations on assault rifles, weapons designed to allow soldiers to assault enemy held positions by allowing for maximum sustained firepower for the longest period of time (outside carrying a light machine gun - an impracticality for soldiers rushing into an enemy held building).  They are aware these weapons are a mediocre choice for self-defense and a worse choice for hunting, but they are also aware that gun "lovers" want, even lust, for guns which look like military hardware.  They long for firearms which give them maximum firepower (available under current law), seemingly because those weapons help them feel tougher.  It helps them feel like we all often do walking out of a martial arts movie, that we can take on the world, like we're somehow that military-minded expert who can shoot down aircraft and black hat bad guys with our bad-ass weaponry.

And so, after seventeen more people died, our President, beholden to this same NRA and the gun manufacturers (who spent 20 million on his election), after an AR15 was again used to slaughter innocent people, 14 of them children, has advocated for....

banning bump stocks...a device used in the Las Vegas shooting, not the Florida shooting

Yep, our glorious leader, in reaction to yet more slaughter has advocated doing something about the shooting before the last shooting.  Something he could have advocated for months ago, in fact many people did advocate for months ago.  Interestingly, the NRA is fairly neutral on bump-stocks, perhaps because the gun manufacturers by and large aren't the manufacturers of bump-stocks?  Nah, couldn't be that.  Regardless, despite only moderate opposition from the NRA to regulation of bump-stocks, nothing was done by Congress or the President after the worst mass-shooting in US history.  They did nothing, nothing until yet another mass-shooting killed more children and then..

They took the safest, easiest action, to advocate for some sort of restriction on a device that modifies assault rifles so they can fire in a very nearly fully automatic mode (like many military assault rifles are able to do).  AND, they again called for arming teachers, and for investigating the mentally-ill.  As if the US has cornered the market on mental illness or the violently mentally-ill?   Is that yet more American Exceptionalism?  And if arming teachers is the answer, why do other countries not arm their teachers?  Why do they not need to do so?  These are two old saws from the NRA, say nothing can be done because it's just the mentally-ill, and say that more guns will solve things.  We have more guns here in the US than in any other country in the world, yet, somehow, we are not safer so it boggles the mind how even more guns wielded publicly will make us safer. 

A conservative friend of mine recently wrote that taking away weapons from terrorists will only cause them to find other and even worse, weapons.  Well, if true, then the argument to arm teachers is a terrible one, because and in fact as we have seen, if we arm teachers, those who would engage in mass shootings will only start wearing ballistic vests as the shooter in Texas did, or start bringing to bear ever more powerful assault weapons from vantage points difficult to stop (as the shooter in Las Vegas did), in order to avoid or mitigate the risk from "the good guy with the gun."  So NO, more guns will solve nothing at all.  It's ironic to hear this argument from a gun nut (as is my friend) considering it's the argument we have made about increasing the firepower of police as being no real solution to gun violence either.

No, the President again (and the GOP again), shows it cannot lead, will not lead, and in fact will oppose any leadership which addresses the underlying issues of gun violence in the US, especially some of the most easily constrained, mass shootings.  Nearly every mass shooting in the US has been perpetrated with either assault rifles and/or with weapons using very high capacity magazines (the Gabby Giffords shooting was done by a man using a pistol with a 30 round magazine, imagine a magazine which extends about a foot below the shooter's hands).  They nearly all also stopped either when their weapon ran out of ammunition causing them to reload, or their weapon jammed, read that again, when they needed to reload or could not keep firing - so they kept shooting until they immediately ran out of firepower.  These aren't facts in dispute.  The Sandy Hook shooter's weapon apparently jammed, Gabby Gifford's shooter's magazine ran dry, the shooter in Aurora Colorado either ran out or his weapon jammed (it's not clear).  We don't yet know what happened in Florida.  In Las Vegas the shooter brought dozens of weapons just to make sure he could keep shooting.  In NONE of these cases were the shooter's "stopped" in anything like a timely manner by "a good guy with a gun."  So, what does the President do in reaction to the Florida shooting, he doesn't advocate for limitations on these types of weapons, instead he advocated for strengthening laws which he criticized and set aside, in his 2nd act as President.

This is not leadership.  Addressing the current issue with a modest and obvious step from the last crisis isn't leadership,  it's cowardice, it's corruption and it is disgusting, and it is obscene and in the most powerful nation in the world, it is a national embarrassment.   It is a broken record to say it, and that's perhaps the saddest thing of all, but it is far beyond time for real leadership in the US on limiting firepower for civilians to what they actually need for self-defense, not in some fevered-dream of being attacked by Ali Baba and his 40 thieves, but in the 99.999999% of cases and what they need to hunt (assault weapons are terrible hunting weapons).  They do not need assault weapons and we do not need to keep watching the parade of hearses bearing the innocent young victims of our needless national obsession.

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