The winds have changed in the gun control debate

January 13, 2013 

The debate over gun control or whether guns should be controlled at all is back. Touting gun rights by Republicans and Democrats has been a right of passage for anyone who wanted to climb the political ladder, be it local, state or national office. The gun lobby has been effective in twisting the arms of politicians to allow guns in almost any setting or scene -- from pistol-packing preachers to bar-hopping babes -- the mantra of Charlton Heston saying they’ll have to pry weapons from their “Cold dead hands” lives on.

But then something terrible happens. The cold dead hands belong -- not to “patriots” as Heston called them -- but to the Adam Lanza’s, Eric Harris’ and Dylan Klebold’s of our society who are so twisted with hate they can walk into an elementary or high school and start shooting. The hands also belong to the James Holmes of the world, who, for some unknown reason, snap and decide to include innocents in go-out-with-a-bang fantasies in crowded movie theaters or shopping malls.

The carnage has been such that former staunch supporters of all guns all the time have called for some action. The leadership of the National Rifle Association, not realizing the political winds have shifted, continue to push an all-guns-all-the-time-for-all people agenda. Meanwhile, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters of the victims, are telling of their pain on various venues 24/7.

NRA members, on the other hand, are not as forthright as the organization’s leaders and realize some steps to control who has access to guns are necessary. They also understand the public recoil to the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre statements a week after the Sandy Hook shootings that deflected blame to violent video games and movies and called for armed officers at every school in America. At the same time, LaPierre said, “We can’t lose precious time debating legislation that won’t work.”

The irony of that statement is obvious. None of the laws that have been passed or those that will pass will work. The gun genie is out of the bottle and there is no stuffing him back in. All we can hope to do is put reasonable safeguards, backed by the funds to enforce the safeguards, in place to hopefully slow the carnage.

Will universal background checks work? To a degree, if the databases are properly designed and implemented. Should the gun show loophole be eliminated that allows gun sales without a background check? Certainly. Should 30-round magazines attached to an assault-type weapon be legal? Probably not.

The NRA would better serve its constituents if it would come to the table with an open mind and clear ideas and become a partner to whatever solutions are presented. They are facing headwinds they cannot buck. Governors are already proposing gun control measures demanded by their constituents. If the NRA continues to take the stance that weapon ownership should not be somewhat controlled, many of its supporters in Congress won’t be so willing to flaunt their NRA bona fides for fear that too close an association would be more negative than a positive when they next seek re-election.

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