Saturday, December 14, 2013

Remembering Sandy Hook

A year ago today 26 students and teachers lost their lives to gun violence at Sandy Hook elementary school. Following that tragedy West Virginia’s conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a 30-year political supporter of the National Rifle Association (NRA), courageously introduced legislation that would require universal background checks for commercial sales, extending them to gun shows, as well as all online Internet purchases.

Given the overwhelming public support for universal background checks after the Sandy Hook massacre (even from a majority of NRA members) the passage of some version of Manchin’s gun-control bill seemed inevitable. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. No version passed. The NRA, the most powerful and fearsome lobbying organization in the United States, prevailed once again.

Despite the fact that only a third of the population own, use, sell and manufacture guns here in the United States, (thanks to Wayne LaPierre and the NRA) life and death continue to be measured by profit margin. As some of you may know, I have a licensed to carry a handgun in the State of Tennessee, as well as 38 other states that recognize Tennessee’s handgun carry permit. But, I am not and I never will be a member of the National Rifle Association. Why? Because Wayne LaPierre and the association he leads believe that the cure for gun violence is more guns. The NRA believes there should be no restrictions, whatsoever.

Wayne LaPierre is an insidious and powerful predator. His fear mongering and brazen endorsement of a universal armed populace makes clear that common sense and rational thinking are in short supply in the echelons of the NRA. Moreover, it seems that there will always be members of Congress willing to do the gun lobby’s bidding, ready to profess their love of the second amendment as they procure the next NRA campaign donation.

I’m sure you have heard Mr. LaPierre assert, “Guns don’t kill, people do.” But, whether he wants to admit it or not – People with guns kill more people than people without them. And, automatic weapons with large capacity magazines increase the number of gun deaths substantially.

We cannot, we must not forget Sandy Hook and the children and their teachers who died there. We cannot continue to allow the Wayne LaPierre’s (a small minority) to control the debate and lead us (the majority) to an even more frightening vision of our future.