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The 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.

nra lobby

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.

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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