Saturday, February 24, 2018

Fun Control

I end a week, that sees seventeen people slaughtered, feeling optimistic for the first time in ages. It surprises me that no pundit has addressed how analogous this burgeoning of youth activism is to the movement that ultimately ended the war in Vietnam.  While I think that Emma Gonzales would be prettier if her hair grew out a bit, like “Hell no!  We won’t go!,” “We call B.S.” will resonate for the ages.
The 1994 ban on assault weapons expires in 2004.  Compared with the ten-year period before the ban, the number of gun massacres (as defined by four or more deaths) falls 37 percent and the number of deaths in mass shootings decreases by 43 percent while the ban is in force.  After the ban expires in 2004, there is a 183 percent increase in mass shootings and a 239 percent increase in deaths caused by gun massacre.  
Shamed Republicans are chewing around toughening background checks and increasing the age limit to 21 for the purchase of a gun.  However, they’re pushing to pass these measures only if coupled with a bill to guarantee concealed weapons reciprocity.  This means that the loosest, actually in many states virtually non-existent, concealed weapon regulations will have to be recognized in other states.  Aren’t these the same guys who froth at the mouth touting state’s rights?
Manufacture of guns in the U.S. increases when there’s a democrat in the White House.   5.5 million firearms are produced in 2009.  As everyone assumes Hillary will prevail in the election, 11.5 million guns are produced in 2016.
No one reading here needs an education about the incredible power that the NRA wields.  Much of their funding does come from individual memberships and contributions but there are a number of channels that the gun industry uses to infuse big bucks and further their agenda.  We know that the NRA virtually owns a number of politicians, but their intentions are even more insidious than I’d imagined.  The NRA pressures Congress to keep the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearm’s footprint as miniscule as possible.  At present, there is no Senate confirmed director.  The budget has remained flat for years.
A former ATF agent notes that the entire bureau is smaller than the Broward County Police Department, so the ATF has less manpower and fewer resources than the Miami police force. The division of the ATF that’s in charge of inspecting gun dealers, and insuring that sales are conducted legally, has about 800 employees. There are more gun stores than grocery stores in the U.S., not to mention gun shows and private sellers.
News of the CNN Gun Control Town Hall initially irks me slightly.  I watch CNN religiously.  I believe that their newsgathering is trustworthy, but reporting is definitely cherry-picked to spotlight Trump and the idiot sycophants who surround him.  I eat it up but wonder if the Gun Control special might cross a line into bias and exploitation.  The actual program however packs a wallop.  It is notable that Florida governor Rick Scott and Trump are too cowardly to attend.
Marco Rubio is berated by the father of a murdered girl. When asked bluntly, he will not agree to stop accepting campaign contributions from the NRA.  He does however address, with eloquence, the polarity in this country and also agreed that his consciousness with regard to gun control has been raised.  He is warm and articulate.  I disagree with almost everything he stands for.  If a Republican were inevitable, I would be thrilled if he replaced the current president.
I can’t imagine that anyone would not be moved by the articulate voices of Stoneman Douglas students or broken hearted to think about what they’ve endured.  A March is planned for March 24.  I pray that the turnout is larger than at the Trump inauguration.  My own children spend the lion’s share of their childhoods in Obamaland.  Bad things happen but we feel safe.  The liberal bastion of Silverlake makes some political awareness unavoidable but now, as the coming generation certainly seems to have grasped, awareness, as well as action, is imperative.
Kids are kids and perhaps for some, the fervent passion for gun-control will give way to the latest phone app.  I suspect however that teachers will help to preserve their focus. While educated people tend to be more liberal, I can’t imagine that even in deep Red places that teachers won’t encourage their students to support their own interests and keep the issue of gun control relevant to kids. 
One of the most satisfying moments at the CNN Town Hall is when history teacher, Diane Wolk Rogers asks NRA rep Dana Loesch to define the 2nd amendment’s guarantee of a well-regulated militia, and then, with supporting evidence, explain how an 18-year-old with an automatic weapon is well-regulated.
Instead of common sense gun control Trump and the State News wants to arm us.  And give us bonuses!  Despite frequent training and time at the shooting range the average accuracy of a New York City police officer is 13%. There isn’t any copy paper at our school, the roof leaks and wages haven’t increased in decades. But maybe I can take down a mass shooter with an automatic weapon.  I suspect that this idea will push even the most politically conservative teachers over the edge.
It seems like our children may save us.  While we can welcome the distraction from Snapchat and choking down Tide Pods, the specter of teens being murdered marks a tragic end of innocence.  Kids from Stoneman Douglas have noted that they’d rather be shopping for prom-wear than defending their lives.   They ask why we’ve failed them so pathetically that they feel the need to take to the streets.  How awful that they have to take this on.  How filled with hope I am that they are.