DEMOCRACY OUTGUNNED: PROPOSED SAFETY BILL KILLED

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NRA's Wayne LaPierre Asks: 'Who's Your Daddy?'

This week former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband have unleashed the first of a set of radio advertisements attacking Republican lawmakers who opposed gun legislation in the wake of last week’s defeat of a bill to tighten gun laws.

Given the refusal of the Senate to act on sensible gun control legislation it's time for average Americans to forcefully speak up against the proliferation of automatic weapons that are flooding the streets and wreaking havoc in American society?

Through their group Americans for Responsible Solutions, Giffords and her husband, former Navy captain and astronaut Mark Kelly, plan to target those Republicans—and four Democrats—who helped kill last week’s bill with the hopes of removing them from office through voter disenchantment.

According to Americans for Responsible Solutions it has received online contributions from over 24, 000 people since last week’s vote. The group said the donations were "a sign of extraordinary anger and determination from Americans throughout the country.” The first two ads attack two Republicans in particular—Senator Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.)

One ad features two women decrying the fact that Senator Ayotte voted against the wishes of voters from New Hampshire. One woman in the ad states "This was common-sense legislation written by a Republican and a Democrat, supported by law enforcement, and it protected Second Amendment rights. But Ayotte voted against it anyway." The other woman in the ad agrees adding "And ignored the will of the people."

In another ad, attacking Senator McConnell, listeners are asked to call the senator and remind him of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. In the ad, a narrator says “We watched. We listened. We felt it. Newtown. But Sen. McConnell won’t listen to us.” The ad accuses him of putting "the Washington special interests ahead of Kentucky" and used statistics showing that 82 percent of Kentuckians support background checks.

The ads come one week after a bi-partisan gun control compromise amendment bill co-written by Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) was killed in the U.S. Senate after it failed to reach the 60 vote threshold senators agreed it would need for the measure to be adopted. The vote for the amendment was 54-46. The new procedures would have expanded the background checks system for those seeking to buy weapons at gun shows and over the Internet.

Among those who voted against the bill were Democrats Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Begich of Alaska and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Only four Republicans voted for the bill: John McCain of Arizona, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine. Reportedly, several senators who supported universal background checks in 1999—when the NRA also supported it—now speak out against it. Those senators are: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Orrin Hatch of Utah,  and Mike Crapo from Idaho.

Giffords wrote a Twitter message after that vote stating “Senate ignored will of the people & rejected background checks. Im not giving up. Constituents will know they obeyed gun lobby and not them.” Giffords was one of 19 people shot—including six who died—on January 8, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona in a supermarket parking lot. Patricia Maisch, a survivor from the Tucson shooting, and Lori Haas whose daughter was shot during the Virginia Tech massacre where 32 people were killed shouted “Shame on you” from the Senate gallery. The need to be ashamed of themselves,” Ms. Maisch said as she was being removed from the Senate room.

Indeed, these legislators should be ashamed of themselves. But then again why should we expect anything else from these politicians who are bought and paid for by big money? The defeat of the latest gun control proposals—especially, in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings in Connecticut and last week’s bombings in Boston—is a starkly stunning example of Washington’s spineless cravenness.

Reportedly, ninety percent of Americans agreed with the provisions of the bill: to expand background-checks to cover all sales at gun shows and over the Internet. Some 40 percent of gun sales occur without any background check. Closing this loophole is a no-brainer—and years ago the NRA and many Republicans who no argue against expanded background checks supported it then. Unfortunately, these responsible Republican politicians parrot the talking-points of the NRA and the gun lobby by giving us brain-dead, idiotic pretexts about criminals not submitting themselves to background checks. If we’re to agree with this drivel why bother legislating criminal laws in the first place?

These lame excuses are made in a patently transparent attempt to hide the essential awful truth: Capitol Hill is controlled by big money and when big money talks Washington waffles—and in the post Citizen’s United world, where “corporations are people,” this has gotten exponentially worse. We often hear hollow hallowed rhetoric about America’s shining democratic principles from those in political office. However, big money is constantly corrupting those democratic ideals with the enthusiastic help of shameless politicians who fail to hear the will of the people when their pockets are being stuffed by corporate criminals. Do Americans need a clearer example than this of Washington’s incestuous connections to those with deep pockets?

The fact is Washington and their benevolent benefactors have revealed their true colors and illustrated their real priorities—which places profits before people. And so the mass killings of women and children in schools are just collateral damage, or, sacrifices to be made so that the merchants of death can continue to rake in record sales. Money is the only thing that means anything to these morally challenged humans—if you can even call them human.

Giffords efforts should be supported and a message needs to be sent to those who disregard the democratic will of the people. Washington politicos now have more fear of those with big money than they do of the American people. Politicians are always thinking about the next campaign and who will contribute to their war chest. This creates a serious imbalance in regards to their political interests and makes them less liable to be loyal to the voters especially at the most crucial times when they need to stand up strong for the people.

Last week’s dishonorable display highlights this troubling aspect of the current political situation in Washington. The scourge of guns is a clear and present danger in our states, cities and towns. If politicians are too beholden to the NRA and the merchants of death to do the right thing then Americans must agitate to spur the change that is necessary. And those who enrich themselves with the NRA’s blood money should be bounced from Congress.

 

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