EDITORIAL: Congress won’t change gun laws until voters change Congress


If you can’t exactly remember which mass shooting came before last weekend’s West Texas rampage, you’re not alone.

America’s mass shootings are so frequent now that details often blur. Towns and victims become a fill-in-the-black response by elected officials, tweeting out their “thoughts and prayers” for the most recent mass shooting particulars.

The nations’ fast-fading response is nearly as horrific as the shootings themselves.

The Columbine Shooting, which was the beginning of “never again,” was decades and hundreds of mass-shooting victims ago. In Colorado, the 2012 Aurora theater shooting was impetus for two modest gun control measures. Those laws seemed so provocative to some at the time that they nearly destroyed the General Assembly.

They’re two of the same measures being considered by Congress again: universal background checks and a limit on firearm magazine size.

After each and every mass shooting, and these recent shootings are no different, a public call for government action is met by an even more powerful call by the National Rifle Association to do nothing.

In almost each and every case, the NRA and its supporters and congressional lackeys win. America loses.

It will come as no surprise to almost everyone, that despite a foursome of horrific mass shootings in recent weeks, the NRA and Republican lawmakers who are either complicit or outright abetting are poised to squash or diminish even the most demure of national gun control bills.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly given mixed messages on whether what, if any, gun control measures he would sign into law. While he originally signaled support at least for universal background checks, he’s recently stepped back from that, saying that mental illness is the problem in America, not guns.

The Democrat controlled House has already passed a small list of gun control measures to the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, has already coyly said he won’t move on anything until Trump signals what he will sign.

It doesn’t matter how many Americans die at the hands of mass shooters. It doesn’t matter that more and more Americans increasingly live in fear of being a victim of a shooter at school, at work, at the store, or even just walking to the car.

What matters is the NRA, and the politicians it supports and controls. As long as a majority of NRA supported or complicit lawmakers remain in office, the shootings will continue, along with thoughts, prayers and empty promises.

This organization and its henchmen continually lie to Americans. Erroneously telling them: It’s not the guns.

Of course it’s the guns. Even Walmart, a long and fearsome advocate of completely unfettered gun rights and proliferation, just this week announced it would no longer sell assault weapons, handguns and associated ammunition. They’re asking patrons not to wear their guns into the store in places that allow such puerile nonsense.

“It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a memo to employees.

That’s clear to everyone. It’s also clear that the political makeup and climate of Congress must also change before anything else will. The vast majority of Americans have already made clear their attitudes have changed toward mass shootings. They want gun control.

Given the choice between their political careers or fighting against the NRA and for solid gun control, Americans can bank on the vast majority of Republicans in Congress and state legislatures having sudden epiphanies and saving their careers.

Now, Americans must act at the ballot box. Until lawmakers are installed who won’t bend to the will of the NRA, there will not be any meaningful gun control, and the mass shootings will continue.

The nation must collect and eradicate assault and military weapons and ammunition. The nation must do more to recognize and treat mental illness. The nation must empower courts and police to seize firearms from those deemed mentally unstable. And, as a nation, we must all take responsibility to become vigilant about our friends, family and neighbors who have access to firearms and raise questions about their psychological stability.

Each American mass shooting catastrophe has only one thing in common: easy access to highly lethal firearms and ammunition for the shooters. The path forward is clear.