EDITORIAL: If Congress won’t change the gun laws, change the Congress

Gun Rights
Students from East High School and West High School call for gun control measures to be considered by state lawmakers Thursday, March 23, 2023, during a rally outside the State Capitol in Denver. A shooting earlier this year left two administrators injured at East High School on Wednesday, one of a series of gun-related events at the school in the past six weeks. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

If you can’t exactly remember which mass shooting came before the Lewiston, Maine rampage, you’re not alone.

America’s mass shootings are so frequent now that details often blur. Towns and victims become a fill-in-the-blank response by elected officials, tweeting out their “thoughts and prayers” for the most recent mass shooting particulars.

The nation’s fast-fading response is nearly as horrific as the shootings themselves.

The Columbine Shooting, which was the beginning of “never again,” was decades and hundreds of mass-shooting victims ago. In Colorado, the 2012 Aurora theater shooting was impetus for two modest gun control measures.

Those laws seemed so provocative to some at the time that they nearly destroyed the General Assembly.

Stepping up the fight against the epidemic of gun violence and death in Colorado, nascent state laws raising the age of gun ownership and requiring a brief waiting period for gun purchases are still being fought rabidly by gun rights activists who believe the right to carry any weapon, anywhere, any time by nearly anyone is absolute.

Far weaker measures being considered by Congress, universal background checks and a limit on firearm magazine size, continue to flail, despite the sea of dead bodies created by gun violence.

Gun activists insist it’s not the guns, yet they have no logical answer why free, modern, democratic nations like ours without prolific firearms do not suffer the epidemic of gun violence we do.

After each and every mass shooting, and recent shootings are no different, a public call for government action is met by an even more powerful call by the National Rifle Association and other groups to do nothing.

In almost each and every case, the NRA, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, their supporters and congressional lackeys win. America loses.

It will come as no surprise to almost everyone that despite recent horrific mass shootings, the NRA and Republican lawmakers who are either complicit or outright abetting are poised to squash or diminish even the most demure of national gun control bills.

Even those brave lawmakers who have at least signaled support for universal background checks, usually stammer and say instead that mental illness is the problem in America, not guns.

It doesn’t matter how many Americans die at the hands of mass shooters or daily gun violence. It doesn’t matter that more and more Americans increasingly live in fear of being a victim of a shooter at school, at work, at the store, or even just walking to the car. 

What matters is the NRA, and the politicians it supports and controls. As long as a majority of NRA-supported or complicit lawmakers remain in office, the shootings will continue, along with thoughts, prayers and empty promises.

This organization and its henchmen continually lie to Americans. Erroneously telling them: It’s not the guns.

Of course it’s the guns. Even Walmart, a long and fearsome advocate of completely unfettered gun rights and proliferation, no longer sells assault weapons, handguns and associated ammunition. They’ve asked patrons not to wear their guns into the store in places that allow such puerile nonsense.

The political makeup and climate of Congress must change before anything else will. The vast majority of Americans have already made clear their attitudes have changed toward mass shootings. They want gun control.

Given the choice between their political careers or fighting against the NRA and for solid gun control, Americans can bank on the vast majority of Congress and state legislators having sudden epiphanies and saving their careers.

Americans must act at the ballot box. Until lawmakers are installed who won’t bend to the will of the NRA, there will not be any meaningful gun control, and the mass shootings will continue.

The nation must collect and eradicate assault and military weapons and ammunition. The nation must do more to recognize and treat mental illness. The nation must empower courts and police to seize firearms from those deemed mentally unstable and danerous. And, as a nation, we must all take responsibility to become vigilant about our friends, family and neighbors who have access to firearms and raise questions about their psychological stability.

Each American mass shooting catastrophe has only one thing in common: easy access to highly lethal firearms and ammunition for the shooters. The path forward is clear.

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