The Systematic Obstruction of Gun Safety Won’t Stop Until Politics Reflects the Will of the People
John M. Bridgeland
As Congress moves to pass gun safety legislation this week to keep Americans and our children safe, while the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a century-old law in New York that will undermine states’ ability to regulate guns, we must do more to ensure our policies reflect the will of the people. Gun violence haunts America.
My earliest memory as a three-year-old in Cincinnati was watching my mother’s reaction when Walter Cronkite burst onto a TV show to announce that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. Five years later, in April 1968, I remember the principal announcing that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been shot in Memphis, and at the end of the school year in June, that Robert Kennedy had been shot in California. . The world was violent. It stays that way.
In 2022, the more than 250 mass shootings have become so common that the media doesn’t even report them all. It’s been more than 20 years since two gunmen killed 12 students and a teacher in Columbine, Colorado and just three weeks since a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. During those many years, Congress did almost nothing.
I remember the voter pressure. The first phone call I took when I became US Congressman Rob Portman’s chief of staff was from Harrison, Ohio, threatening me and the congressman that he would “give us a belly full of buckshot” if we were doing anything on gun control. The mail and phone calls were largely aimed at protecting the rights of gun owners rather than limiting them. The wheel has turned.
A Fox News poll of registered voters conducted June 10-13, 2022 showed that 88% support background checks to buy guns, 82% support raising the legal age to 21 for guns. assault and 78% for raising the legal age to 21 for all. guns. Additionally, 81% support red flag laws, 80% conduct ammunition background checks, 77% require a 30-day waiting period, 70% ban high-capacity clips, and 63% ban assault weapons. The only reforms that a majority of Americans did not support are teachers and more citizens carrying guns.
As always, Americans seem to have a healthy dose of common sense. Passing “red flag” laws, for example, would make it easier to remove firearms from potentially dangerous people and protect Americans from violence without burdening the Second Amendment.
Several studies have found some common characteristics of mass shooters: almost all of them are men who act alone, have experienced significant stress or loss at home, and plan their actions in advance. Some have a history of domestic violence, exhibit behavioral problems at home and at school, and have been bullied by their peers. Still others suffer from mental health problems, often undiagnosed. With social media expanding attention, many shooters are exhibiting one of the most reliable indicators of potentially dangerous people – “flight before violence” by communicating their plans in advance to others. Studies in California show that red flag laws were used in response to 21 mass shooting threats, including several involving schools. Think of the lives saved, the losses averted.
Other sensible policies include universal background checks to buy a gun and closing various loopholes; raise the legal age to purchase firearms to at least 21; banning assault weapons; increase supports for mental health and school safety; and more. When Richard Small, an NRA member, Vietnam veteran, and gun owner from a town south of Ulvade, Texas, saw the massacre at Robb Elementary School, he turned in his AR rifle. -15 to police and said it was not needed for hunting or auto. -defense. Non-military servicemen should not be entitled to a military arsenal.
The Second Amendment confers an important right and we must honor it. We should also read it – “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The amendment envisages the regulation in its preamble, within the framework of the militias necessary for the protection of the country and confers this right within the framework of this security. Congress and the states can clearly set limits that will ensure public safety and protect individual liberty.
History teaches us, however, that even the opinions of supermajorities of Americans do not always translate into action by Congress, executives through laws, and negotiations by filibuster-proof majorities. in the Senate who can ensure the final promulgation. That’s why for the past several weeks, Americans from every political party, sector, gun owner or other division have united to launch a grassroots filibuster for gun safety. Testifying 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the United States Senate and House of Representatives, Americans are raising their voices. Some are survivors or family members of Columbine, Parkland, Sandy Hook, Pulse, and Ulvade; others are NRA members, gun owners and hunters; and there are family members of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., who still talk about the impact those shootings had on the rest of their lives.
The grassroots filibuster has unleashed voices across America that reflect an overwhelming consensus on gun safety. And there is a spirit of national unity born of shared pain and a desire to protect our children and our people towards a brighter future.
John M. Bridgeland is a Cincinnati native, former chief of staff and legislative director to Ohio Congressman Rob Portman and Ohio Congressman Bob McEwen. He is co-founder of 24-7: The People’s Filibuster for Gun Safety and former White House Domestic Policy Director for President George W. Bush.