Gun Silence

NRA Involvement in PoliticsThe earnest M.C. at Saturday’s benefit concert suggested that we all pause for a minute of silence in honor of the recent tragedy in Connecticut.

Seated in the audience, I wanted to scream out “NO.  No more silence.”

We have had decades of silence as private guns are used to kill people, in bars, in schools, in stores, in beauty parlors, in road rage incidents, in gas stations, in more schools, in movie theaters, in churches.

We have moments of silence.  We have moments of silence to remember the dead.  Remember a 6 year old, sprayed with assault rifle bullets?  Remember a teacher gunned down while doing her job?  Should we have a moment of silence for the parents and siblings of the dead?  Their lives will have an eternity of silence in the space where a child’s voice should be.

We have years of silence.  But we have no silence from those who promote gun sales and promote gun violence as the only answer to any social problem.  After the December 14 carnage, the ‘liberal’ corporate media marveled that the NRA maintained a discrete silence about the slaughter, while Tea Party congressmen and pundits lined up to reaffirm their fealty to the NRA and to spew NRA talking points about the need to arm school children and teachers and to focus on mental health screening, instead of gun registration, or tracking bullets with serial numbers.

One of the themes the NRA instructed its vassals to recite was that any discussion of gun control must necessarily dishonor the dead children, by “politicizing” the issue.  Was it “politicizing the issue” when people demanded car safety standards after learning that Ford had intentionally avoided safety measures on the Pinto, just to save pennies on the cost of each vehicle?  Was it “politicizing the issue” when the government funded research to end polio, or smallpox?

Politicizing an issue is when a business PR operation, like the NRA, threatens political candidates with ruin, if they don’t obey the commands of one business, regardless of how the politician stands on any other or all other issues.  The businesses, like Cerberus Capital Management, that dictate policy at the NRA, have politicized gun control as an issue for decades, threatening politicians who don’t kowtow low enough, and buying judges to rule in their favor.

Because the NRA objected, and ordered its congressional lapdogs to threaten that agency, the Centers for Disease Control ended its research into ways to improve treatment of gunshot wounds.  That NRA politicization directly reduces the survivability of U.S. soldiers on the battlefield, and police, fire, EMT and other public safety workers in every city and town.

The NRA ordered its Tea Bagger lapdogs to insert provisions in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that explicitly forbid medical care workers to collect data on gun violence to help identify mentally ill people using guns. (YES, check the Affordable Care Act, sec. 2717(c).)  To get enough votes to pass the law, even President Obama was required to bend to the politicization of this PR firm for gun manufacturers.

When a man buys a diamond ring for his sweetheart, the diamond is routinely engraved with tiny ID marks, invisible except with a high power magnifier, but capable of identifying the diamond if it is stolen and the thief tries to sell it.  The same, and more modern, technology is available to mark both bullets and shell casings, to allow police to track bullets and shells at crime scenes.  The technology that provides women the ability to track stolen diamonds could track the bullets that killed their children, and find the person who bought the bullets, who shot them, or who provided them to the shooter.

But the NRA has worked hard to block Federal legislation to require such markings.  According to the NRA, the right to bear arms includes the right to evade police investigation if you turn the arms you bear against school children or fire fighters or police officers.  California actually has such a bullet ID law.  But the NRA demanded, and got, a provision in the law that says the technology is not “practical” yet, so the law can’t take effect. This is no different from having anti-science, Tea Bag congressmen like Todd Aiken chairing the House Science Committee.  While Aiken denies the science of the tobacco-cancer links, the NRA orders politicians to deny the existence of technology that exists on every modern engagement ring.

We legislate against people driving drunk or speeding, or on the sidewalk.  But then some violate the law anyway.  We can investigate the injuries such lawlessness causes because we require cars to bear ID badges in the form of license plates.  But when a person wants to go on a killing spree, we guarantee anonymity for his bullets.

Reciting NRA talking points, the corporate media and Tea Bag Republicans have jumped on a claim that we need to improve our mental health screening to ward off future shootings.  But those who cry out most loudly for better “mental health screening” to identify potential murderers are uniformly those who have, for years, fought against affordable mental health care for the survivors of our routine gun slaughters, including the NRA provisions in the Obamacare bill.  The cry for better mental health care is just an effort to distract us from the reality of our social acquiescence in thousands of gun murders every year.

Besides, 2nd Amendment purists will quickly point out, again using NRA talking points, that the 2nd Amendment makes no exception for the mentally ill.  Under the Scalia Doctrine, even the “militia” language of the Amendment is meaningless against the absolute right of everyone to pack heat.  With no exception for the mentally ill, or for convicted felons, improved mental health screening will quickly fall to an NRA legal challenge.

The living will suffer for years, for decades, for lifetimes.  Jesus said, “Follow me; and Let the dead bury their dead.”  (Matt. 8:22)  Jesus did not acquiesce to the rules and beliefs and ignorance of the society into which he was born.  Jesus preached against the status quo.  Jesus preach for, DEMANDED, change – demanded a better world.

Farmers from New England to Virginia stood up against George III’s redcoats.  Southern school children stood up against Bull Connor.  Students stood up against tanks in Tiananmen Square.  Unarmed civilians stood up against brutal repression in Tahrir Square, and in Tunisia.  But our Tea Party Republican politicians tell us that they cannot stand up to Grover Norquist, or  Cerberus Capital Management or the NRA.

Jesus died.  Patriot farmers died.  People died in Tiananmen Square, in Tahrir Square, in the Civil Rights movement, and everywhere else they have stood up and demanded freedom from oppression.  Here in the United States we are told that it is too dangerous to stand up and speak out.

Too dangerous?  While 6-year-old children die from assault rifle bullets, it’s too dangerous for anyone to speak out?  It’s too “politicizing” for people to speak out against an industry whose only purpose is to profit from the sale of tools for killing people?

Dan Quayle, that master of spelling bees, is a chairman at Cerberus Capital Management – lending the company his Ayn Rand tinted vision of the balance between pursuing profit and acting with social responsibility.  When we think of the sophistication of private investment scams, we need to remember that the men who run these unregulated funds have the moral depth and social responsibility of Dan Quayle.

There is no gunfire in the towns and homes of the men who run businesses that are designed to profit from the suffering of others, we need to remember that our society is structured so that the kind of havoc wreaked by guns is almost never experienced in towns where these people live, or schools that their children attend.  A moment of silence?  It is silent where Cerberus’ owners live, where their children go to school. Tom Hall

NO MORE!  Since the ‘liberal’ corporate media will not do it, we must identify and publicize the amoral, conscienceless men who think that even one dead child is acceptable, just so long as they make a profit.  We must shine the light of social conscience on them and their world – the light of world, the light from Concord Bridge, from Tiananmen and Tahrir Squares.  We must speak out.  We must shout at the tops of our voices.

Tom Hall

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Published by the LA Progressive on December 29, 2012
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About Tom Hall

Tom Hall is a family lawyer in West Los Angeles. He is from Boston, and was raised in Friends Meeting at Cambridge (Quakers) to think that religion was a progressive force. During the Vietnam War, he organized draft counseling centers and worked with groups training people in techniques for disciplined nonviolent demonstrating. After the war, he became just another yuppie working to make a comfortable life. The Bush administration shocked him back into social concerns. Now he’s working to see that the Obama administration lives up to its progressive promises. Tom can be reached at ProgBlog@aol.com

Comments

  1. I think that unless you can point to the number of children’s lives saved by guns, vs taken by them (innocent children, not underage gang members), then no perspective has merit here…

    Comparing deaths to a vacuum is a foolish thing.

    One could call out to make vaccines illegal, pointing to the number of children that die due to vaccinations…

    …totally ignoring the number SAVED by vaccination.

    Unless and until someone is willing to do the same with guns (which can both protect and harm), then they are not to be taken seriously.

  2. JoeWeinstein says:

    Notice how the gun promoters like NRA get along just fine with the drug-warrior politicians like Obama, Romney, Bush et al.

    These guys claim to be promoting or defending liberty and security, but what they are really promoting instead is getting more people (and other animals ) legally punished and killed.

    * All along their operative message to the disturbed folk in this country has been:

    ‘Certain drugs may possibly be tools for your self-abuse, so we will make sure to punish you and long deprive you of liberty for even daring to possess them; but it’s fine – in fact a virile virtue and constitutional right – for you to have guns which by design will enable you to efficiently kill other people.’

    * LaPierre’s NRA has also been fanatically fighting a proposed EPA rule that would mandate the use of widely available and effective and affordable
    non-toxic shot rather than toxic lead shot. Lead shot does not give
    greater liberties or abilities to gun users but it does maximize collateral death and poisoning of humans and of endangered wildlife like California condors (and of other iconic carrion predators).

  3. harry wood says:

    Please name those people who “promote gun violence” as you claimed.

    I really enjoy reading history, it repeats itself from time to time as it tries to get us to comprehend the lessons of the past. When our Constitution was written, the
    ratification of it was having problems. Various states noted things that were missing. To correct what was determined to be left out, the first ten amendments were added. After those ten amendments were added, the ratification progress was completed. Do enough reading to discover why our ancestors thought each of them were important.
    The history of the first amendment is rift with the religious history of the countries in Europe, most of which had a state church. The English church used to be the same church as in France and Italy. But the English king needed a religion which
    would allow him to divorce his wife and select a new wife, so the church of
    England was created and it allowed him to do what he wanted.

    #Thus our first amendment, it does not allow our country to select a state religion and recognizes the right of all churches to exist without government rules and influence or any controls. A funny thing happened in Massachusetts, that colony wanted to have one religion and ban any others from the colony. Ever wonder how Rhode island started?

    The Tea Party in Boston harbor caused the English Crown to make a decision to control who had weapons. In April of 1775, British soldiers marched on
    Concord and Lexington to confiscate the weapons stored there, which belonged to the local militia, the civilian population.

    #Thus, our second amendment, it says we are allowed to have weapons because the defense of the country is in the hands of the militia, i.e. the local citizens, you and I. I will assume this does not limit me to muskets, the infantry weapon of 1775. I may need the infantry weapon of 2012 in order to be effective. There may also be an implied right to defend ourselves from our own government operating outside of the law, which I trust will never be needed. Our military will defend our constitution as their oath requires and not a person.

    Then there was the new British law (the Intolerable Acts) allowing British troops to be housed in local colony homes without any cause. The families in those homes were housing and feeding soldiers without any government reimbursement. I think the term eating us out of house and home may have started then. Violent criminals were no longer to be tried in the colonies, but were to be sent back to England (no jury of your peers ). Did you know Black men had the vote years before any women?

    #Thus, our third, fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments, it says soldiers can not be housed against our wishes in our homes. We are to be secure in our persons, homes, papers, and effects against unreasonable seizures and searches and a trial by our peers, the folks who live near you, No one wants drones allowed over private property.

    If you read our history and consider our first ten amendments, you can find the source of each of them and understand why the states would not ratify the constitution without them. At one time, English law, the Quebec Act, extended the borders of Canada far enough south to encompass the Ohio River valley,
    making the farmers there residents of Canada, thus loosing their representation in the local colony government. Without the 2nd amendment, what would happen
    to guns rights now?

  4. I think it’s social silence in general, guns are just a symptom. There is so much broken, our prison system for profit, our military for profit and our journalism for profit as well.

    200,000 plus dead Iraqi civilians with no sorry or day in court for alleged war crimes. WikiLeaks has video of US troops not waiting for civilian children to get out of harms way before taking the shot.

    Even now the whistleblower’s pre-trail weirdness is in full swing and next to no media coverage.

    If we want a responsible society, we need to do away with the idea violence is right if you’re the winner. Either we our a society of laws and standards that all are held to, or we are not.

    • harry wood says:

      What would you do if faced with an armed man pointing a weapon at you and has four women and children providing cover by standing in front of him. Now Tim, if have been there and done that, I am sure you can give me your best answer. Do you shoot to save yourself and mates or let the armed man get to shoot first? We all have to deal with the lessor two evils. I do that often when voting.

    • harry wood says:

      I forgot to say you are correct, it is the “trigger pullers” who are the problem, we have a lot of guns that have not shot a person in 40 years, mine have not shot any living thing “deer” between 1970 and now. Most guns do not kill, it really is a few people who do that.

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