On Wednesday, former US Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), two years after she was shot in the head and critically wounded in a mass shooting in Arizona, surprised lawmakers when she testified during a US Senate hearing on gun violence in America. Speaking slowly and deliberately, on Wednesday, Giffords told the Senate Judiciary Committee, “Too many children are dying… we must do something. It’ll be hard, but the time is now, you must act. Be bold, be courageous, Americans are counting on you”. This was the committee’s first hearing since last month’s shooting massacre at a Connecticut elementary school left 20 children and 6 adults dead. Giffords and her husband, former cosmonaut Mark Kelly, have become two of the leading advocates in America on the issue of gun safety, forming a group called Americans for Responsible Solutions, which calls for universal background checks for gun buyers and limits on high capacity ammunition magazines. Kelly also testified at the hearing, saying, “We aren’t here as victims, we’re speaking to you here today as Americans. … When dangerous people get dangerous guns, we’re all the more vulnerable.”
Also testifying at Wednesday’s hearing was the head of the powerful American gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA), Wayne LaPierre. He told lawmakers that new proposals to ban assault weapons and increase background checks were not going to solve the problem of gun violence, saying, “Let’s be honest. Background checks will never be universal, because criminals will never submit to them”. LaPierre also called for stricter enforcement of current gun laws, pointing up, “violent felons, gang members and the mentally ill who possess firearms aren’t being prosecuted. That’s unacceptable”.
US President Barack Obama called for new gun control legislation, including banning military-style assault weapons, requiring background checks on all gun purchases, and outlawing ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds. US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation banning the sale and manufacture of more than 150 types of semiautomatic weapons, as well as limiting ammunition magazines to ten rounds.
30 January 2013
Isn’t that an oddbod argument for the NRA to use? “Let’s not have a law because the criminals won’t follow it”… that’s sheer bonkers and we deserve to laugh it out of court out-of-hand. We need robust gun laws, with especial attention paid to enforcement in the south and southwest, where scofflaws would be most common (that’s where most gun nutters and rightwing kooks are). At the same time, we should preserve the rights of the rural population and registered hunters to appropriate firearms (who ever heard of a mass shooting carried out with a shotgun or hunting rifle?). We can do it… we’ve allowed the rightwing gun nutters to run rampant for too long. Second Amendment be damned… its purpose was to provide for a well-regulated militia to protect the state and society (to keep national defence in the hands of citizen-soldiers, not standing “volunteer” mercenary forces, as is being done today), not provide a rationale for potty nutters to have access to whatever weapons their pointy little heads desired.