Big O had one of the more respectable moments of his recent presidency yesterday, when he called out Congress and the NRA in the wake of this week’s mass shooting.
It’s hard to disagree with the Prez when he says we’re getting numb to this sort of thing. I remember being in school when the Columbine shooting happened, it was a tragedy that basically halted the whole nation in its tracks for a few days; a real “never again” kind of moment. Now when we hear about one of these shootings we just sort of shake our heads. It seems to happen several times a year so it’s hard to pretend to be shocked by the news.
It’s also hard to know what to do about it, but it’s obvious that some sort of legislative steps need to be taken. O is correct when he points out that we’re the only nation in the world that has these incidents with such frequency, and most First World nations have not banned private gun ownership (although some have).
A big part of the reason that Congress is so hesitant to take action is that there’s no anti-gun lobby in Washington. There’s no industry that competes with gun manufacturers, so there’s no big source of funding for any politician or PAC that would be willing to take on the NRA. The end result is that we have two types of politicians: those who have taken money from the NRA, and those who can’t afford to go up against a rival candidate who has so they just keep their mouths shut.
It doesn’t help that most private citizens are unaware of the NRA’s role as a lobbying group for a particular industry. Most Americans think of the NRA as a grass-roots Second Amendment rights group that speaks for a membership of private citizens. While that was once true and the group does collect membership dues, those payments now account for less than half of its funding. The bulk of NRA funding comes from gun manufacturers.
In general I’m not anti-lobbyist, and I certainly consider myself pro-Second Amendment. But if Congress is so bought-and-sold by one particular lobbying group that it will not take action on something like universal background checks, which are not a Second Amendment violation and are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans, then there’s little hope for any real change. If all we’re going to do in response to future mass shootings is have a moment of silence, maybe it’s best to remain numb.