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Wednesday, 24 April 2013 08:07

Shame on Washington: How Could They Vote No on Expanded Background Checks?

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Protecting the second amendment at all costs is nothing to make a lawmaker's chest swell with pride. As the president said after the Senate refused to pass an expanded background checks amendment for gun purchasers it was in fact "a pretty shameful day for Washington." Staring vacantly into the eyes of parents who lost a child at Sandy Hook or watching Gabby Giffords struggle to walk and speak is not a victory for freedom-loving patriots, it is a stain on our national character.

People tend to be outraged at what they see as acts of terrorism but withhold judgment when some crazed gunman shoots an abortion provider or states angrily that he's ready to defend his gun rights to his last breath - - or that his gun will have to be plucked from "his cold dead hands." Those who ask for the enactment of sensible gun laws are accused of just not understanding the "gun culture" that exists in parts of the country. But applying the word culture to the word gun is a dysfunction in the making and that's what we've been about in the lexicon of misnomers we have developed.

What exactly is it gun-safety advocates don't understand about magazines that harbor multiple rounds of ammunition to accommodate sports enthusiasts and defenders of life and limb? How many are needed to bring down a rabbit, or a deer for that matter? What rational explanation can there possibly be for those lame arguments about slippery slopes and defenseless women hiding in closets with only ten or so shots between them and marauding bandits and rapists? The answer to that question is that most of those arguments are not made by rational people; they remind me of a quip I once saw that said "I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person." Unfortunately there are legions of such unarmed persons in our midst and they vote.

In the aftermath of the terrible events at the Boston Marathon the usual brickbats have emerged to plague the political landscape and slow the healing process. It hasn't been possible because of his condition to question the second bombing suspect, but questioning has begun in political circles about the FBI's response to information regarding the older brother's possible terrorist ties. And there are certainly a great many loose ends that could be explored in that case. What though, could the FBI or any other law enforcement agency have done without specific details about a future event? I seem to recall that after 9/11 no-one was permitted to carry a backpack or other large package into Yankee Stadium but that's another matter.

The Boston Marathon brings tears to my eyes even now, days after the event - - not just because the human toll was so horrific although that was dreadful enough. It was, however, acts of kindness and heroics that mixed waves of sorrow with exultation as an injured young girl was carried to safety by a football player, as tourniquets were applied to the grievously wounded by total strangers and as medical personnel rushed to the scene even if they were off duty.

Perhaps most moving of all was the crowd at a Boston Bruins hockey game, singing the National Anthem so loudly that it overtook the usual rendition - - the scoreboard at Yankee Stadium highlighting the Red Sox logo next to the Yankees'- - and Yankee fans at the stadium singing "Sweet Caroline". One Red Sox fan remarked that after all the nasty things he'd said about the Yankees in the past he'd never be able to speak that way again.

It is after all, possible for people on opposite sides of the political spectrum to share similar feelings and turn for comfort toward one another. The "gun culture" shouldn't keep that from happening.


Photo: Sandy Hook parent Nicole Hockley speaks before the bill signing of An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety. (Source: ct senatedems / Flickr)