It’s Time To Stand Up To The NRA

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - January 19, 2011

A psychotic young man becomes increasingly untethered from reality. He tries to join the Army, but recruiters deem him too unstable for service. He attempts to go back to school at the local community college, but his behavior is so aberrant that on five different occasions police or security are called to remove him. He was deemed “too dangerous for his algebra class.”

But still, given the lax gun laws of cowboy Arizona, Jared Lee Loughner was able to walk into a Tucson sporting goods store and buy a weapon that would fire 30 rounds in 15 seconds. Let me repeat that: 30 bullets in 15 seconds, sufficient to critically wound a respected member of Congress and inflict lesser wounds on a dozen others, kill a federal judge, a young congressional aide, three retirees and a 9-year-old girl who’d come for a democracy lesson.

What a lesson in democracy. Better, call it a lesson in the Democracy of the Gun. Go to a “Congress Member on the Corner” meeting and die.

Study your presidents and note that four of the 44 - Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy - have been gunned down by assassins. One, Ronald Reagan, was severely wounded by a mentally unhinged young man who was trying to impress his fantasy girlfriend. Three have been shot at: Gerald Ford and the two Roosevelts. Teddy was hit by the bullet but unhurt thanks to a folded speech in his breast pocket. FDR’s would-be assassin missed but bagged a mayor, Chicago’s Anton Cermak, who was shaking hands with the president at the time.

Add Sen. Robert Kennedy, Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King Jr., San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and gay rights activist and San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk and you get the idea: Grabbing a gun and shooting an American politician is almost a national sport among the deranged.

And thanks to the National Rifle Association, no one is willing to regulate the sport.

“The NRAhas convinced Republicans that the 2nd Amendment grants citizens an unrestricted right to bear arms,” said Paul Helmke of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, in a recent CBS News interview. And, according to Helmke, the Democrats have been silenced by their fear of NRA money and votes.

“But polls show that 75-80 percent of Americans favor background checks on all sales at gun shows, restrictions on the sale of assault weapons and limitations on the size of ammunition clips. I think the NRAis a paper tiger. In 2008 the NRA spent $15 million in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana to defeat Barack Obama, but he carried all three states. Bill Clinton pushed the Brady bill and the ban on assault weapons, but he won re-election easily in 1996. This is a law-and-order issue. President Obama needs to step up.”

New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy already has. She understands as few do the horror of a psychotic with a gun. Her husband was killed and her son badly wounded when a deranged gunman shot up a Long Island commuter train.

McCarthy’s announced plans to introduce a bill banning the sale of ammunition clips of more than 10 rounds. It was, of course, only when Loughner had to change clips that brave souls were able to subdue him. But with 30 rounds in that first clip, he was able to do horrific damage. “It’s the lethality of the weapons that are easily available that is so frightening,” says Helmke.

That it is, along with the lack of political courage on the part of politicians on the right, left and center.

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