OP-ED: It’s the guns that kill our children, GOP, NOT the books

Gun Rights

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Meet the family of sitting Congressman Andy Ogles. He represents the congressional district that includes the Christian school where, Monday, six people, including three children, were murdered by a 28-year-old woman armed with assault rifles she had no business being able to purchase.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! What would Jesus say about this picture? Who are these guys? Are those assault style rifles they’re holding?

Naturally, Ogles was devastated about the shooting. He called for an end to senseless bloodshed and a ban on these weapons of mass destruction, right? Here’s what he said:

“My family and I are devasted by the tragedy that took place at the Covenant School in Nashville this morning. We are sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost. As a father of three, I am utterly heartbroken by this senseless act of violence. I am closely monitoring the situation and working with local officials. Thank you to the brave first responders who have provided support throughout this tragedy.”

What’s missing in this statement? Any mention of words like “gun” or “murder.”

The statement might apply to a violent hit on a football field, a reckless or drunk driving incident, or a bar brawl that got out of hand, rather than the deliberate and senseless assault weapon slaughter of children.

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Ogles is an obvious target of ridicule for his ignorant and tragic glorification of assault weapons, designed for war with the purpose of killing mass quantities of people.

In America, however, these weapons are more frequently used to kill mass quantities of school children. His statement is typical of others in his party.

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Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn said she was “heartbroken” and called for citizens to join her in prayer.

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To date, Blackburn has received over $1.3 million in campaign contributions from the NRA.

She has opposed all sensible gun control measures.

Bill Hagerty, Tennessee’s other Senator, was “devastated and heartbroken” but he has opposed a national gun registry, universal background checks, and red flag laws.

Tennessee congressman Tim Burchett, who sponsored legislation to expand gun rights, said “we’re not going to fix it” and “there’s nothing we can do.”

Republicans outside of Tennessee expressed similar points of view.

While campaign financing from powerful gun rights groups like the NRA pours into the GOP, these gutless politicians hide behind the 2nd Amendment, claiming their hands are tied by the Constitution.

They are “helpless” to protect our children.

At the same time, this same GOP is at the forefront of another constitutional crisis.

Many in the party claim that they must act to protect our kids.

Governor Ron DeSantis is championing this cause in Florida.

Finally, a governor who gets it. Surely, he’s talking about assault weapons and gun safety, right? Wrong. He’s talking about books.

DeSantis recently signed the “Stop Woke Act” into law, seeking to ban books that might provoke feelings of “guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress” in Florida children.

I never realized that our teachers, administrators, and librarians were so clueless about making reading choice for kids.

In February, one Florida county banned a book about how Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente overcame racism to become American heroes, on and off the baseball diamond.

Why ban such a heroic message, especially for young minority children?

Apparently, the word “racism” is dangerous to our kids.

I wonder what DeSantis would say about a Christmas card that features young children glorifying assault rifles?

We have a 1st Amendment in this country.

Our forefathers determined ‘free speech’ to be so important that they honored and protected it with the very first amendment to our Constitution.

However, this important first constitutional amendment is not enough to prevent Republicans from supporting the “Stop Woke Act” or banning close to 3,000 books in a majority of states across the country.

When I was a kid, I was bullied in school. I was on the small side and I was Jewish.

Jew hatred and antisemitism was a thing back then, just as it is today.

Big kids have always picked on little kids—it’s a fact of life.

When I complained to my mother, she told me to remember that “sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you.”

While I don’t completely agree that words can’t hurt, I get her point. She was talking about physical hurt, great bodily harm . . . like . . . perhaps . . . death.

The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution provides citizens access to guns.

Citizens are entitled to protect themselves, but nowhere does the amendment say that that right is unlimited.

Protecting kids from getting killed is an easy work-around.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is far more important than the right to purchase and own an assault rifle.

This is not a weapon used for “protection” which is the cornerstone of the 2nd Amendment—it is a weapon used to kill large quantities of people in a short period of time.

Other than powerful explosives or nukes, can you name a more powerful ‘stick or stone’?

The 1st Amendment protects what we say and what we read.

There are exceptions to protected speech. “Hate speech” is one of those.

That’s why we can’t easily find copies of Mein Kampf.

But even hate speech can be minimized by our freedom to espouse contrary points of view.

If we do so loudly enough, we drown out those who advocate hate. That’s the power of free speech.

Limiting speech is dangerous to a free society—ask anyone who lived in Germany in the 1930s and 40s.

The 2nd Amendment protects our right to defend ourselves. We don’t need an AR 15 to do that.

So, why is the 2nd Amendment so important to the GOP, but the 1st can pound sand?

I don’t have an easy answer for you. I suspect the NRA and campaign contributions are one big reason.

But while Republicans refuse to deal with America’s dangerous gun problem, they also oppose climate change legislation and important social programs that assist young children.

Why? I don’t know. But one thing I do know is this:

A book never killed six people in less than fifteen minutes in Tennessee.

Mark M. Bello is an attorney and author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series and children’s social justice/safety picture books.

He also hosts the popular bi-weekly podcast, Justice Counts.

Mark’s books may be found at all online booksellers and on his website, at https://www.markmbello.com.

Mark M. Bello

Mark M. Bello is an attorney and author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series and children’s social justice/safety picture books. He also hosts the popular bi-weekly podcast, Justice Counts (https://www.spreaker.com/show/justice-counts_1). Mark’s books may be found at all online booksellers and on his website, at https://www.markmbello.com. Sign up for Mark M. Bello’s Social Justice Newsletter.

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