By Lance Chilton
What was it that Machiavelli said? “Money tends to corrupt; big money corrupts bigly.” Though not quoted exactly, it’s as true as the original, which has to do with power.
How else can we explain our inability to get meaningful gun control enacted in a country with more guns than people, other than to say that the National Rifle Association, its 5.5 million members (a minuscule 1.7% of the US population), and the gun manufacturers that support it are applying their dollars and nonsense?
On the other side of the issue are most Americans. Blogger Helen Cox Richardson quotes data showing that the vast majority of Americans (but probably not the NRA’s 1.7%) support seemingly common-sense restrictions on everyone’s “right” to be armed to the teeth:
Requiring background checks on all gun sales (not making the gun-show exception),
Preventing gun sales to people who have been reported to police as dangerous by a mental health provider,
Requiring guns to be stored in a safe storage unit,
Creating a national database for gun sales, and
Banning assault style weapons like the AR-15.
Three years ago, Charles Gillespie wrote a satirical piece entitled “God Has Heard Your Thoughts and Prayers and He Thinks They Are F$%#ing B*^&S%@)” –the profanity is included at https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/god-has-heard-your-thoughts-and-prayers-and-he-thinks-they-are-f___ing-b___s___. God mentions to the pious among us that we have been given numerous chances to make a difference in the horrendous toll of gun-related deaths and injuries. God notes that prayer is not enough; s/he has given us the wherewithal to pass common-sense legislation and makes the point that the colonial-era musket permitted as part of the Second Amendment’s “well-regulated militia” in the 1790s is very much different from the concealed-carry AR-15 of the 2020s.
Gillespie’s/God’s points are all the more urgent in 2022, when more young people are now killed each year with guns than by automobiles. And yet the best that that red party’s candidates and “leaders” can come up with is arming teachers, controlling doorway entry to schools, and placing more police around schools. According to “The Paper,” State Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce said [on May 26, two days after the Uvalde, Texas disaster] that “gun control is not the answer” to school safety concerns. God/Gillespie would not agree, and neither would the majority of Americans.
New Mexico Democratic leaders clearly think otherwise. In each of the last four legislative sessions, Governor Michelle Luján Grisham has signed Democrat-sponsored gun control legislation, even while red-leaning states have moved in the opposite direction. In response to the Uvalde shootings, the governor issued a statement including the following: “As elected officials, we must do everything in our power to reduce the number of firearms and deadly weapons on our streets to make sure that everyone in this country lives in peace and free of fear. This slaughter of our most innocent cannot stand, it cannot become a normal part of American life. But all too often, it is–and that must change.”
Along with supporting legislative efforts in Santa Fe to curb gun dangers, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller has said since the May 24 Uvalde shooting that he is “urging residents to unite against gun violence and renew a commitment to prevent gun deaths in our country, state, and city.”
“Gun violence is a growing epidemic nationally and here at home,” Mayor Keller said, “and we need to stop it. From criminal activity to domestic violence to child abuse, when guns are involved, more people die. It needs to change. Preventing gun violence is a deeply personal issue for me.” Among actions his administration has taken are gun buy-backs, provision of social services to those troubled and likely to resort to violence (often through Albuquerque’s new and innovative Albuquerque Community Safety Department), banning guns at community centers, and giving policemen and -women technology to warn of active shooting.
As God/Gillespie said, prayer is not enough–real action on gun safety must occur in this most crazy of all gun-crazy countries. Our Democratic politicians at all levels are making common-sense proposals that almost all but the NRA support.