Column: It’s another big lie to say that Congress can’t help prevent another Nashville

“It’s a terrible, terrible situation and we’re not going to fix it.”

There you have it: with it throw away line Speaking to reporters on the steps of the Capitol Monday, Tennessee Rep. Tim Burchett summed up the Republican Party’s willful impotence in the face of an epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings that is setting this nation apart from almost every other.

Six of Burchett’s fellow Tennessees – three nine-year-olds and three adults about his age – had just been butchered at a private Presbyterian school in Nashville by the latest assault weapon killer. The congressman said that “we tip fix” the problem of record recordings. But “won’t” also applies to Republicans. Predictably, on massacres, they have stuck to their two-pronged agenda: thoughts and prayers. (Perversely, Republican Rep. Barry Moore of Alabama has another idea. His The invoicewhich he presented at a gun shop would describe the AR-15 as the “national weapon of the United States.”)

opinion columnist

Jackie Calmes

Jackie Calmes takes a critical look at the national political scene. She has decades of experience reporting on the White House and Congress.

Can’t, won’t – fact is Congress may do something and once did do something with demonstrably good but short-lived effects. In 1994, a Democratic-controlled Congress and President Clinton banned the weapon of choice of mass murderers, military-style assault rifles, along with the high-capacity magazines that so terribly increase the lethality of the guns.

It should try to do this again since President Biden has pushed for the umpteenth time. That a Republican-majority House insists it cannot or will not act is all the more reason to put national pressure on Congress to try.

Enacting the assault weapons ban three decades ago was a personal victory for then-California Senator Dianne Feinstein, which it was motivated by an attack on a San Francisco law firm in 1993 that killed eight people; and the 1989 Stockton schoolyard shooting that killed five children and injured 27 and a teacher.

But to secure enough votes at the time, proponents had to make compromises by liberating the assault rifles and magazines that the Americans already possessed. And sadly, they also had to agree that the ban would expire after 10 years unless a future Congress and President renewed it. Which in 2004 a Republican-controlled Congress and President George W. Bush rejected.

But the nation’s 10-year experiment with limited bans on assault weapons and magazines has given us proof that we can now argue that such measures work. “Deaths from mass shootings were 70% less likely during the federal lockdown,” according to evidence showed in 2019.

And here’s what’s happened to assault military weapons since the US ban was lifted: record sales and record deaths.

Gun manufacturers produced and marketed the AR-15 like never before, making it the best-selling rifle in the United States. Along with the gun lobby and their Republican cheerleaders, they capitalized on a post-9/11 fascination with the type of tricked-out long guns used by American troops. After the election of Barack Obama, they fueled fears among gun enthusiasts that the first black president would confiscate their guns. And they toyed with the (toxic) masculinity of gun owners, with one manufacturer promoting sales of its AR-15 — the model used by the Sandy Hook Elementary school first-year assassin — This way: “CONSIDER YOUR MAN CARD AS NEWLY ISSUED.”

It’s disgusting. And it has to stop.

After the 2012 annihilation of these 20 first graders and six of their school supervisors in Newtown, Connecticut, many of us had some hope that federal action would follow. Instead, a proposed ban on assault weapons failed in the Senate while production and sales increased, and was defeated by all but one and more swing-state Democrats in Republican circles. Of the 17 deadliest mass shootings in the US since Sandy Hook, 12 were carried out with assault weapons, according to the Post, as was the case with the Covenant School killings.

Assault weapons should be the pariahs of the arms industry; Polls consistently show that most Americans want to ban them. Unlike bullets from typical handguns, the explosive effect Shots from an AR-15 fan out in a victim’s body, pulverizing tissue and leaving gaping holes as they exit. In other words, just as the military originally intended, the weapons are almost guaranteed deadly. The Washington Post, in New series on the AR-15, and with the permission of the victims’ families, used animation to portray 6-year-old Noah Pozner at Sandy Hook and 15-year-old Peter Wang at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018.

But the guns have only grown in popularity, even becoming iconic to millions. Some Republicans in Congress walk around with mini-AR-15s lapel pins on their lapels. And the number of real offensive weapons has skyrocketed from one estimated 1.5 million at the time of the 1994 ban to up to 20 million today, according to the Post.

Of course, this staggering number is a real problem if the gun is ever to be banned. But aside from confiscating Americans’ AR-15s, a near-impossible task, a law banning future sales and imports should include a provision for the government to buy guns and magazines from owners — as Biden did suggested.

Another big problem is the Republican-crammed Supreme Court. in one Decision Last June, the six conservative justices expanded the gun law so far that the president of a far-right group hailed it as a “4-ton wrecking ball” against gun restrictions. Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, for whose confirmation the National Rifle Assn. spent millions, once took offense at the use of the term “assault weapon” to the delight of the gun lobby.

But just as Republican opposition in Congress shouldn’t stop them from pushing for a national ban on assault weapons, neither should the Supreme Court’s pro-gun bias hold back advocates.

Leave it to Republicans like Burchett to pretend they are powerless.


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