It was just a month ago when I asked in this corner, “How many more massacres?” echoing what Roanoke, Virginia Mayor David Bowers said just hours after a disgruntled, thrice-fired TV reporter shot to death fellow reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward live on TV while Parker was interviewing the head of the local chamber of commerce.
Reacting to the same shooting incident, President Barack Obama said “it breaks my heart every time” he reads or hears these kinds of incidents. “What we know is that the number of people who die from gun-related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism,” he added as he pushed, for the umpteenth time, for tougher gun control laws.
His words and those of the Roanoke mayor fell on deaf ears, also for the umpteenth time, as Congress, many of whose members are obviously beneficiaries of the “kind support” of the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), has remained unsupportive of any kind of legislation that would limit gun ownership.
Obama was back on the podium again Thursday hours after a 26-year-old gunman shot to death nine students and teachers and wounded 20 others at the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. He grieved for these latest victims of mass shootings in the United States, which he said has somehow become routine. “We have become numb to this,” he said. It was his 15thspeech after a mass shooting.
“This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones,” he said as he slammed Congress for blocking even the collection of data on shooting incidents.
Predicting that it would not be the last time in his presidency that he would have to give such a painful speech, Obama vowed: “Each time this happens, I am going to say we are going to have to do something about it. And we are going to have to change our laws.”
The Republican leaders and presidential candidates, as expected, tweeted their “thoughts and prayers” to the families of the victims but failed to mention anything about gun control.
Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, two of the strongest contenders for the Republican nomination, basically dismissed it as an incident to be expected, with Trump claiming that “no matter what you do, you will always have problems,” and Bush saying “stuff happens.”
Both insisted imposing gun controls is not the answer to the series of mass shooting. Trump went farther to criticize “gun-free zones,” saying that the Oregon shootings could have been limited if instructors or students had been armed. He said better mental health care would help curb future shootings.
How did the other presidential candidates react to the Oregon shooting, the latest of 45 school shooting incidents this year that have resulted in 45 deaths and 78 non-fatal gunshot injuries?
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who once received an “F” rating from the NRA for supporting the 1994 assault weapons ban, said “stripping law abiding people of their guns … I don’t believe will get the job done.” Now, he can be assured of an “A” rating from the NRA.
Dr. Ben Carson said, “You’re not going to handle it with more gun control because gun control only works for normal law abiding citizens. It doesn’t work for crazies.”
Florida Senator Marco Rubio said, “There’s really no evidence that these gun laws would prevent these shootings.”
Straight As for the three from NRA, which rate politicians for possible campaign funding based on their stand on the gun control issue.
They follow the line of the NRA, that citizens should be armed to prevent or minimize mass killings, that under the Second Amendment, citizens have the right to bear arms; that it is not the gun that kills, it’s the people. Therefore, the government should take care of the people’s mental health instead of limiting their ability to own guns.
Can you imagine if the students and teachers of that small community college all carried guns? Maybe there would have been a dozen shootings by now with dozens of fatalities and injured in that school alone. Imagine one student having an argument with one of his teachers; he’d probably just shoot the teacher’s head off with his gun.
If Bush, Trump, the NRA and the other pro-gun politicians were to be followed, it would be like the Wild, Wild West all over again except that this time, most people would be carrying assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols, instead of six shooters.
There have been 94 school shootings in the two years since the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, including fatal and non-fatal assaults, suicides and unintentional shooting – an average of nearly one a week, according to the Everytown for Gun Safety.
These killings have to stop now, and the only way they can be stopped is by toughening rules for buying and selling guns.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has vowed to make the strengthening of gun control laws the centerpiece of her campaign and also pledged to use her executive power if elected president to expand background checks for sellers at gun shows and online and back legislation banning domestic abusers from purchasing guns.
Clinton also unveiled new gun control measures last Monday aimed at strengthening background checks on gun buyers and eliminating legal immunity for sellers. She proposed a repeal of legislation that shields gun manufacturers, distributors and dealers from most liability suits, even in the case of mass shootings.
President Obama said it’s a political choice that all Americans must make: “I would ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws and to save lives, and to let young people grow up. That will require a change of politics on this issue. If you think this is a problem then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views.”
We can have our voice heard on this critical issue by rejecting all candidates – local or national – who support uncontrolled gun ownership and elect those who are for tougher gun control.
We have to put a stop to these killings now.
(The columnist is a respected and veteran journalist in the Philippines and the United States – Editor)