Newtown and What We Can Do to Change Things

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“They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.”

President Obama

All of us are shocked and stunned by the events that occurred yesterday in Newtown, a lovely New England hamlet straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. The young children who were massacred, the principal and school psychologist who bravely confronted the killer and never came back, the teacher who apparently hid her students in cabinets and closets then told the gunman they were in the gym. (He killed her.)

It’s unfathomable.

Unlike Hurricane Sandy, where so many generous souls of our good country came together to help a region ravaged by storm (as Americans always do in a tragedy) a lot of folks on Twitter have asked what we can do to help, what we can do to try to ensure such a thing never happens again.

There are a few things.

We joke about lawyers, but a few of this country’s most talented legal minds chose not to work for high-paying glorious positions but work tirelessly and without the lawyer salary to stand up to the NRA, playing modern-day Davids to quite possibly one of the biggest Goliaths this country knows. The NRA is probably America’s most powerful lobbying group, if not in reality then in the minds of legislators who fear it.

Here’s a few things to know about the influence and power of the NRA:

From NPR:

“I believe the NRA has as much sway on Capitol Hill as any lobbying group in the country,” says Mike Castle, a former Republican congressman from Delaware. “They’ve done a very effective job of convincing people that, whether it’s true or not … they have the power to completely limit their futures in elected office if they don’t cooperate.”

From Businessweek:

The NRA raised $227 million dollars to spend in 2010 on its agenda.

From Towelroad:

(The NRA) has opposed every gun control measure at the state and federal level. It has challenged several of them in court, winning a few spectacular cases at the conservative Supreme Court. It has overturned several of them on election day, and threatened elected lawmakers with harsh payback if they vote against them.

Do Americans agree with the NRA agenda?

No. No, we don’t.

Here’s what the majority of Americans believe about gun control:

86 percent support requiring all gun buyers to pass a criminal background check, no matter where they purchase the weapon or from whom they buy it. (January 2011 American ViewPoint/Momentum Analysis poll)
63 percent favor a ban on high capacity magazines or clips. (January 2011 CBS News poll)
69 percent support “limiting the number of guns a person could purchase in a given time frame.” (April 2012 Ipsos/Reuters poll)
66 percent support requiring gun owners to register their firearms as part of a national gun registry. (January 2011 American ViewPoint/Momentum Analysis poll)
88 percent support banning those on the terrorist watch list from purchasing guns. (January 2011 American ViewPoint/Momentum Analysis poll)

These are majority positions. Yet, there seems to be a NRA stranglehold on Congress, a misrepresentation of Americans’ views.

Do you want smart gun laws, like the ones above?

Here’s what you can do to take action:

Sign this White House petition to try to introduce the issue of gun control legislature in Congress.

Call the White House and tell President Obama that we need smart gun laws signed into law, and that the majority of Americans agree. 202-456-1414.

Volunteer or support in any way the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, who attempts with funds much less significant than the NRA to try to enact smart gun laws in Congress, and on the state and local level. They have incredible databases of studies on gun control studies that might convince even the most gun rights advocate that control is a good thing.

Thank you for listening.

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9 Comments

Filed under What Say You?

9 responses to “Newtown and What We Can Do to Change Things

  1. I agree 100%. Reasonable people like us need to stand up, shout if we have to, to fight the power of the pro-gun lobby. The NRA does not represent the mainstream and cannot be allowed to bully our leaders. I called and signed and appreciate your link to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

    This is just so unbelievable. So heartbreaking. We must do all we can.

  2. I’ve done these things. But I also worry that this is not enough. That even better gun control policy will not change the culture of violence that threatens our children in a place we thought was safe. We have great school security. But what about a crazy parent with a bomb in her shoe? Or something and someone else? There’s another, much darker problem that I can’t put my finger on, and that I fear we’re not going to talk about, because we will think that bandaging the wound will be sufficient.

    I’ve done what I can, and I still feel like it’s not enough.

  3. Perhaps in your country change is really coming.

    Look what happened in your recent election. You guys can change things because you are the change.

  4. Mental illness caused this problem. I am disappointed that more focus isn’t being put on that. The guns used in this situation were legally obtained by the gunman’s mother. Stricter gun laws would not have changed a thing in this situation. Mental care and medication very easily could have.

    This country needs to focus on mental illness. Mental illness causes these situations – not guns. Take the guns away, and people will come up with other means (bombs in shoes, as Justine pointed out) to carry out their insane ideas.

    People are focusing on the wrong thing. This country needs to focus on the SOURCE of the problem – and that source is mental illness.

    • Courtney: while I agree that mental illness is certainly an area that needs to be addressed as well (As do many, many things: such as the violence and gun glory in the media, gaming) I have to always ask: Why is the issue of gun control always to be tabled, like after the Giffords case, Aurora and now this most horrendous mass shooting?

      I am very open to discussions about what we can do to help the mentally ill young males at risk of perpetrating these shootings (and please direct me to any links of suggestions!) but I do think that a PART of the solution is to LIMIT access to deadly weapons of mass destruction.

      While the weapons in this case WERE legally obtained, I just cannot and will never be able to condone the purchase and use of the multiple assault weapons for private citizens that are as lethal as the ones that our soldiers use in military combat. (Like the guns purchased by Nancy Lanza.) I think we need to ban at the very least the ammunition (I’m not alone: 63% of Americans agree that we should ban high capacity magazine clips: I don’t know yet where the ammunition came from in this case) or control at the very least how many of these weapons are bought by ONE individual or household. I will follow the recommendations of groups I trust, like the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

      I agree that gun control is not THE answer, but I believe putting stricter controls on guns for private citizens is a low hanging fruit that would help to protect ourselves from a situation like this happening again.

    • I would have to argue that legal access to assault rifles and high capacity magazines (which are totally unnecessary to any civilian, avid hunter or no) is absolutely ONE of the things we need to be focusing on. Without semi-automatic weapons and magazines that allow gunman to shoot hundreds of rounds without having to unload, these massacres would be the tragedies they are. Many hundreds of people would probably be alive if access to those weapons were no legal.

      Mental health is also an important part of this discussion but it is a much harder one to address. It seems to silly to sidestep one part of the issue that is fairly easy to address, at least in the first steps. There is NO REASON for civilians to have access to military grade weapons. NONE. So why are we even having this conversation? It makes absolutely no sense. Sure we should talk about mental health, but there is no reason not to talk about gun control at the same time.

  5. Pingback: Again « A Woman My Age

  6. Thank you for this food for thought. I agree that guns and mental illness are both issues that need to be addressed. I also believe that if someone really wants to do something like this, they will find away, but I don’t think that means we shouldn’t try to make it a lot more difficult to carry out such a plan.

    I saw a quote the other day that said something about how one man tried one time to bring a shoe bomb on a plane and immediately everyone has to take their shoes off every time they go through security at the airport, but there have been numerous mass shootings/murders in our country in recent years and there have been no significant changes to gun laws. I found that fascinating and very sad.

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