Here’s the truth. The Uvalde school massacre will live on in searing pain for the families of the young victims, but for the rest it will be like a shiva call. After several days of stopping by to offer condolences and respectful mourning, the media, the politicians and public attention will pass on to the next crisis. Just as the Buffalo supermarket massacre was driven off the front pages and news shows.
President Joe Biden meant it when he said, “we’ll do something.” No one is working harder for gun safety legislation than Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where 26 people, mostly young children, were gunned town at Sandy Hook Elementary school almost 10 years ago.
But they will fail. Again. Read my lips: no new laws. Maybe some cosmetics but no more.
There’s a good reason why. In Washington it is said that an honest politician is one who, once bought, stays bought. The GOP is a wholly owned subsidiary of the gun lobby – bought and paid for with millions of dollars in campaign contributions and other help.
If Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer keeps his promise to bring gun safety legislation to the floor, Republicans will once again filibuster it to death. And leading the filibuster will be Texas’s own Ted Cruz, whose state already has some of the laxest gun laws in the nation and just saw the deadliest school shooting in state history.
Cruz insists no new laws are needed. He wants to see all schoolhouse doors locked but one, which will have an armed guard. He also wants teachers to carry guns. So far, he hasn’t called for arming students, but who knows, that could be next.
When Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law last summer eliminating laws requiring safety training and criminal background checks for gun purchases and allowing Texans to carry handguns without a permit, National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre declared.
“Thank God. Texas is leading the way"NRA head Wayne LaPierre
Abbott, as he has in past shootings, called the latest mass killing a “mental health challenge,” and then the problem apparently slipped his mind. In his eight years as governor, Texas “ranks behind all 50 states in access to mental health services,” according to the advocacy group Mental Health America and reported by The Washington Post.
Cruz has raked in more gun money than any other lawmaker between 1989 and 2020, $442,000, according to the Federal Election Commission and the non-partisan watchdog OpenSecrets. That’s money that went directly to him and his campaign and doesn’t include independent expenditures to boost his candidacy or attack his opponents.
Texans in the current 117th Congress have gotten more money from gun groups than those of any other state, OpenSecrets reported.
Two days after his young constituents were murdered at Robb Elementary School by an 18-year-old who bought himself two AR-15-style assault rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammo for a birthday present, a clueless Cruz told a British reporter America is the “safest country on earth.” As in so many things, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about... or just lying to please his owners.
THE US FIREARM death rate is 11.4 times higher than other high-income countries, reported Snopes, the fact checking group. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports America accounts for one in five gun deaths worldwide.
By comparison, Israel, like many other western democracies, has strict gun control laws and fewer per capita incidents of mass shootings and firearm homicide.
Last week American Jewish groups were divided between offering “thoughts and prayers” and demanding serious gun safety measures, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported. The reformers were generally aligned with the Reform and Conservative movements. Several of the sympathizers said they feared offending their Republican and politically conservative machers.
Democrats get only a small fraction of the gun money. In the 2020 election they were outgunned 74 to 1, OpenSecrets reported. The average contribution to Democratic senators was $591, compared to $77,090 for Republicans.
Among the biggest givers are the owners of Daniel Defense, the company that made the assault rifle used to kill 19 third and fourth graders and two teachers last week. So far in this election cycle they’ve given about $70,000 directly to candidates for federal office, according to the FEC.
Polls show the majority of Americans, even Republicans, want some meaningful gun safety measures.
Democrats are talking about more comprehensive background checks, red flag laws, raising the age for gun purchase from 18 to 21, and a ban on assault rifles, ghost guns, high-capacity ammunition magazines and bump stocks.
Republican lawmakers will offer non-solution solutions, like locking doors and more guns, before changing the subject.
They will shift the debate to hammering Democrats over high gas prices, inflation, immigration, white replacement theory and how liberals want to take away your guns and give your votes to all those foreigners. Buffalo and Uvalde were back in May. Ancient history. Time to move on, they’ll be saying.
They’re counting on voters being more concerned about pocketbook issues than dead children.
Cruz can lead the filibuster, but he can’t kill any gun safety legislation without the help of Mitch McConnell. The Senate minority leader said he was “sickened and outraged by the senseless evil” at Uvalde. Just not enough to let any meaningful legislation pass. It’s his usual tease. Saying he’s open to discussion when that’s really just a delaying tactic.
No one has done more to block gun safety legislation. He “has spent his career working to delay, obstruct or prevent” most major firearms restrictions, reports The Washington Post. His go-to excuse is that acting in the wake of tragedy is “it’s the wrong time.” Translation: wait until everyone forgets or moves on. On McConnell’s calendar there will never be a right time. And anyone who tries will be accused of trying to remove the constitutional right to bear arms.
He was responsible for ramming through the Senate federal judges nominated by Donald Trump because they were known opponents of gun control and abortion. The disgraced former president made no secret of his intention.
One effective way to begin dealing with the gun pandemic in light of Republican obstructionism is to end the filibuster, repeal the immunity Congress gave the gun industry to shield it from liability when their weapons are used in crimes and enact tough background checks.
Those moves would have broad public support and save lives... and send the gun lobby to the barricades.
The writer is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).