We must chop off the head of the gun violence serpent, and it’s not the NRA
Thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers.
The next politician offering thoughts and prayers for the victims of our mass shooting du jour (today, it’s 17 dead in Florida) needs to be run out of Congress on a rail.
Here we are again. Another school shooting. It’s absolutely vulgar. We, as a nation, have become absolutely vulgar in allowing it to continue. Wasn’t the Sandy Hook massacre enough? That was six years ago, and nothing has changed. According to the New York Times, there have been 239 school shootings nationwide, with 438 students shot, of which 138 were killed.(https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/15/us/school-shootings-sandy-hook-parkland.html).
And what are we getting from our so-called Congressional leaders?
More thoughts and prayers. I want to vomit every time I hear that phrase. We’re up to our eyeballs in thoughts and prayers. We need action, and we need it now.
That said, piling on to excoriate the NRA, while cathartic (and also richly deserved), is not the action that will change anything. The NRA only has as much power as Congress members give it. The NRA cannot make or change any laws. The NRA does not own the Second Amendment. The blame buck does not stop with the NRA. It stops with Congress.
If you can catch the first 30-minute block of the Feb. 15 Morning Joe news/talk show (http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe#), I implore you to do so. I beg you. It was the most passionate, sane, logical discussion in the wake of yet another school shooting I’ve heard yet. Maybe I feel this way because FINALLY someone who has a much bigger microphone than I is saying what I’ve been saying all along: Too many Congress members are beholden to the NRA because they gladly take their blood money in order to get re-elected — even though only 96 percent of the American public (including many NRA members) want changes to our loosey-goosey gun laws.
The gruesome root of our gun violence epidemic is not the NRA. It’s the self-serving, morally bankrupt politicians who will take huge sums of cash from a morally vacant entity in order to protect their cushy jobs. Apparently there are scarce few politicians who can resist the lure of lining their campaign pockets with gun lobby cash, and this is where change must begin. It’s time to ban the acceptance of campaign funding from lobbyists — all of them.
Campaign donations should only be allowed from individuals, and maybe a cap on it, say, $1,000 max. This would help decontaminate our election process and even the playing field for all candidates. We’d hear from a wider variety of candidates rather than just the ones who wantonly accept any and all funding regardless of that donor’s moral fortitude or lack thereof.
Forget the NRA. Just forget it. Focus your outrage on the politicians who suck at their teat like greedy piglets, too weak-willed not to be seduced by generous donations. They must go. Weeding them out of Congress is something we all CAN do. It is ACTION.
Following the Las Vegas massacre last fall, Politico.com ran the numbers on NRA donations (https://www.politico.com/interactives/2017/gun-lobbying-spending-in-america-congress/). Bile will swell in your throat when you read the hard numbers:
~ In the 2016 election cycle, $5,900,000 was given to Republican candidates; $106,000 was given to Democrats. Politico reports that, “The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan think tank that tracks money in politics, found that in 2016 more than half of the members of the House of Representatives — or 232 of the 435 — received money from gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America. That money went disproportionately to Republicans. Only nine Democrats received campaign contributions from these groups.”
They key phrase is “more than half”: The majority of House Representatives are there because of gun lobby money, and are beholden to their donors. These are the individuals currently in office who truly deserve excoriation:
Paul Ryan, $171,977, Republican, Wisconsin, District 1
Martha McSally, $77,063, Republican, Arizona, District 2
Mia Love, $63,350, Republican, Utah, District 4
Kevin McCarthy, $42,000, Republican, California, District 23
Will Hurd, $35,850, Republican, Texas, District 23
Kevin Yoder, $34,050, Republican, Kansas, District 3
Bruce Poliquin, $32,400, Republican, Maine, District 2
Mike Coffman, $30,843, Republican, Colorado, District 6
Ken Calvert, $30,466, Republican, California, District 42
Ed Royce, $29,100, Republican, California, District 39
Barbara Comstock, $28,407, Republican, Virginia, District 10
Scott Tipton, $25,550, Republican, Colorado, District 3
The list of Congress members accepting gun lobby donations greater than $100,000 since 1990 shows some repeat offenders. Those currently in office include:
Paul Ryan, $336,597, Republican, Wisconsin, District 1
Don Young, $195,272, Republican, Alaska, At-Large District
Ken Calvert, $144,466, Republican, California, District 42
Steve Pearce, $129,250, Republican, New Mexico, District 2
Pete Sessions, $121,776, Republican, Texas, District 32
Ed Royce, $111,120, Republican, California, District 39
Bob Goodlatte, $104,900, Republican, Virginia, District 6
Martha McSally, $104,445, Republican, Arizona, District 2
Mike Coffman, $101,693, Republican, Colorado, District 6
There are many more who accept NRA/gun lobby contributions, but these are the greediest pigs at the gun lobby trough. This is where pressure must be applied, not useless cathartic railing against the NRA.
Bottom line: If you supported these people, you helped perpetuate our gun violence epidemic. Want to be part of the solution? Ditch your thoughts and prayers, and actively lobby against these co-conspirators, and donate richly to their opponents. Shine a light on those who aid and abet mass shootings, and shine it brightly.
When you vote for these people, you support the NRA and the gun lobby. Period. A vote for those who accept blood money is a vote for more innocent children to be slaughtered.
Maybe next time it will be your child. Your grandchild. Your spouse. Ask yourself if you’re okay with that next time you’re in the voting booth. The blood will be on your hands too.