A week following the Orlando Pulse nightclub mass shooting and killing of 49 persons, it’s business as usual for many of our GOP politicians. Despite four Senate bills advanced by both parties, no gun control law passed this week. A homegrown terrorist living in the U.S. may still buy an assault weapon and hundreds of cartridges to kill innocent Americans. And many of our Republican lawmakers lack the guts to pass any common sense laws to protect innocent lives from being taken at the hands of a mentally ill or homegrown terrorist. Inaction means more lives will be taken.
The bills voted down on Monday ranged from the tepid GOP bill to ban potential terrorists from buying a gun but here’s the caveat—only if, a judge found probable cause to determine the person is actually involved in terrorist activity. Of course, by then, the alleged terrorist would have sufficient time to buy guns and take multiple lives. Our lawmakers couldn’t even agree to bar persons already suspected of terrorist activities or on the “no fly” list from buying guns. Of course, the bill to ban assault weapons failed.
The context of guns and gun violence is deeply embedded in our country’s DNA. Mass killings by guns didn’t just start in the 21st century. Our country was founded on gun violence, beginning with the American Revolution. And although the National Rifle Association (“NRA”) bears a lot of responsibility for our present day gun control failures, the NRA is not wholly to blame. A great share of the blame goes to the NRA and GOP politicians’ reluctance to make any meaningful reforms. The NRA is in the back pockets of many politicians who might vote on gun control. And despite the fact that politicians should represent their constituents’ interests, many politicians represent their own self-interest in staying in office albeit with the help of the NRA. And so now we live in a country where no one is immune from mass gun killings whether in churches, elementary schools, colleges and universities, airports, clubs and bars, movie theaters, shopping malls and everywhere people congregate.
Senator Chris Murphy (D. CT) stated he intends to bring the attention of those GOP lawmakers who lack the guts to protect Americans to the public’s attention. While most Americans support common sense gun control measures, many Americans continue to vote for those same politicians who refuse to pass gun control legislation. While Senator’s Murphy stance is commendable, it will not bring reform. Ditto for the House sit-in staged on June 22 by House Democrats organized by Representative John Lewis (D. GA).
The power to change the gun control debacle lays within the same activist groups that were responsible for the passage of gay rights and civil rights legislation. It will take a grass roots effort. We can no longer rely on many of our gutless GOP and some Democrat politicians to protect us. The Human Rights Campaign (“HRC”) announced that it will become active in the gun control battle as many in the LGBT community are overwhelmingly affected by gun violence. It is the first time the HRC has taken a stance on an issue such as gun control. There are many gun control activist organizations. They must align with other major campaigns such as civil rights organizations, LGBTQ community activists, women’s rights activists, Black Lives Matter activists and many other activists who care about protecting human life.
The gun control issue can no longer be left to our politicians, particularly our GOP leaders, to lead the country in the right direction. They have failed us miserably. Our lawmakers mourn the loss of life taken by mass gun violence until the next one occurs. Then they refuse to pass laws to help prevent mass gun violence.
Common sense tells us that doing nothing will result in more mass killings. And the blood will be on our gutless GOP politicians’ hands. I urge all activist groups to take an active stand in support of gun control measures. If we keep doing the same thing, we will get the same results-the loss of more innocent lives.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is trial lawyer, legal analyst and former prosecutor. She is also a gun laws expert and supporter of gun control.