News that the state of Iowa and other states allow blind people to have gun permits provoked some outrage and proved to be a great gift to political satirist Stephen Colbert. But the best response, in my opinion, came from my 86-year-old and politically sharp mother who said “instead of voting for president of the United States, we should be voting for president of the National Rifle Association, because that is who really runs this country.”
Since the blind-gun-owners story broke, followed by the recall elections in Colorado that removed from office two state senators who voted for stronger gun control, followed by the mass murders at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard, and the Chicago park shooting, we’ve gotten to engage in a favorite American pastime: debating gun control and doing nothing. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg gave $350,000 to Mayors Against Illegal Guns in an effort to prevent the Colorado recall. We can call that money not well spent, even if it was only pocket change for the mayor.
It just might be time for those concerned about gun control, including those leading Ceasefire Pennsylvania, to change tactics. Instead of donating to anti-gun organizations, maybe they ought to get every gun opponent to join the NRA and vote its leaders out of office and change its mission. Nah, that won’t work. The gun manufacturers and other big donors will simply find another advocacy group to support and they’ll continue to make big donations to politicians who will vote their way.
Or maybe the best tactic is to move slowly to tighten permit regulations by not letting felons buy guns at gun shows between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month. Nope. That will just arouse the same political actors who have successfully prevented gun show sales from being regulated in most states.
Still another option is to change the definition of “mass shootings” from someone murdering four or more persons during a single event (the FBI’s definition) to, say, someone murdering at least 30 people during a single event. That would take the Sandy Hook murders off the list, along with a number of other killings, although we’d still have to count the Virginia Tech massacre. With a new definition, we could all feel better about the low incidents of mass murders and we could basically ignore the gun murders that go on every day in the United States.
There would still be gun deaths, although the rate has recently been declining along with a slow decline in gun ownership. If these trends continue and we graph them out over the course of the 21st century, a new definition of mass shootings might make it look like a problem is being solved — but it isn’t. Deluding ourselves with definitions and statistical tricks is not really going to prevent any gun deaths.
In the end, the only way to move from gun control debates and discussions to actual gun control is by voting for elected officials who believe in gun control. It is our responsibility as citizens. And we’ve failed that test.
The voters who bothered to turn out in Colorado evidently didn’t believe in gun control. The voters who send NRA supporters to Congress don’t believe in gun control. Now it is the NRA president who is representing us and we have to live (and die) with the consequences of that.