by Bennie Swans.
So last Wednesday, President Trump sat there in the White House and listened to the parents and friends of victims of school shootings talk about their losses, the impact on their lives, and their own, individual calls for the people in charge — him, lawmakers — to do something.
And then, the next day, ahead of the Conservative Political Action (CPAC) conference in Washington, which featured a speech by National Rifle Association (NRA) Wayne La Pierre, Trump tweeted this:
“What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Then, LaPierre, the chief executive of the NRA, went on the attack, defending his organization and those who refuse any sort of controls to keep assault weapons, like the AR 15 that was used to kill 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. He attacked the media for giving voice to the Parkland teenagers who saw their friends slaughtered and who are now demanding change.
“They don’t care about our school children,” said LaPierre in his CPAC speech. “They want to make all of us less free.” He went on to say that “We at the NRA are Americans who continue to mourn, and care, and work every day to contribute real solutions to this practical problem. Do we really love our money and our celebrities more than we love our children?”
In the case of the NRA, the answer is obviously yes because they are funded by the gun industry. It’s their reason for existence. And in the case of the politicians, mostly Republicans, who do the NRA’s bidding in state legislatures and Congress, the answer also is yes. Because they take millions from the NRA for their campaigns and are afraid to do anything that crosses them.
It doesn’t matter if kids are slaughtered in schools like the one in Parkland. Their irrational defense of even children buying an AR 15 or similar assault weapon proves that.
At the White House listening session last Wednesday, Trump got an earful, which he deserved.
“I’m pissed, because my daughter, I’m not going to see again,” said one father whose daughter was one of the 17 slaughtered by a disturbed former student and his AR-15. His child could not be there, he said. She’s in a cemetery now.
A student, whose best friend was murdered, said through tears, “I don’t understand why I can go to the store and buy a weapon of war, an AR.”
Trump nodded, a sincere look of concern on his face.
Then, when it was over Trump promised to “be very strong” on background checks, on the mental health aspect of mass shootings, and maybe even “take a look at the age issue,” apparently meaning perhaps supporting an age limit on the purchase of assault weapons. Fat chance of even that actually happening.
Earlier, Trump ordered Attorney General Jeff Sessions to draft a new regulation banning bump stock-type devices that can turn semi-automatic weapons “into machine guns.”
That’s a tiny step forward, but the regulatory process is exceedingly slow. It could be two years or more before even that regulation takes effect, if ever, as it most likely would be challenged in court. How many shootings will occur in the meantime? How many more people must die?
At his Wednesday session, Trump said nothing about banning assault weapons, like the AR-15. After all, the NRA, was a major contributor to his campaign in 2016. “I will come through for you,” he promised then.
Meanwhile, in Tallahassee, FL, Parkland students watched as lawmakers there resoundingly voted against even considering legislation to ban assault weapons. Then, on MSNBC, some Republican legislator who is running for state attorney general actually called for more guns — to arm teachers so they could “defend” their students in the case of such an attack.
He had the typical, NRA-sanctioned response that by banning guns, even AR-15s, only the bad guys would have them (because they would buy them illegally) and the law-abiding citizen would be at their mercy.
How, in good conscience, can that man take such a position only days after that mass shooting there in his home state? And he wants to be the state’s chief law enforcement officer?
So, now it looks like it’s up to the kids. Students. Young men and women who just two weeks ago were preparing for their prom, not planning a political campaign — because that’s what this #NeverAgain campaign really is — because of terrible tragedies that have touched their lives.
The pundits are now talking about how these young people are our future, the ones who will make change. I hope they are right. Because this has been going on way too long.
It doesn’t matter if your child is killed at school or in a drive-by shooting. The weapon of choice is the AR-15 and they must be banned and kept out of the hands of those who would do us harm.
I call on all political candidates in Horry County to stand up and fight for sensible laws that will improve the background check process and keep military grade weapons out of the hands of ordinary citizens.