Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gun Control In the US - Extremists are Losing Ground

Momentum continues to build against the culture of irrational thought and irresponsible behavior in American politics and against the power that commercial interest holds over politicians. It’s happening in economic policies and in the power the weapons industry has had over Americans.

President Obama is hell-bent on restoring health in society and the economy through balanced measures. Hardliner Republicans have put up a fight for four years and have been unable to break his back, or to stop him from making headway. Their efforts have only earned them disgust and ridicule, at a time when their power is waning in any case.

Obama also chose as his Secretary of Defense a Republican who can think for himself, has made mistakes of judgment in the past, admitted it and changed. Like Obama, Chuck Hagel doesn’t believe in war for its own sake. He said of Iraq and Afghanistan, “[They] are not America's to win or lose [and] we can help them buy time or develop, but we cannot control their fates.”
He said of the Bush Administration’s handling of conflict between Israel and Lebanon in 2006, "The sickening slaughter on both sides must end and it must end now” and at another time he stated that the US relationship with Israel, important as it is, can’t be promoted at the expense of healthy relationships with Muslims and the Middle East.

And the man who shouted the odds about government spending but earmarked ‘just in case’ extra funds for military spending and openly supported war against Iran, didn’t make President. Without a doubt, the era of war is under siege. And so is that of an out-of-control gun industry and the NRA. The horror of the Connecticut massacre and the lunatic NRA response triggered a reaction that’s spreading like wildfire.

Barack Obama announced that Joe Biden would head a task force to present a blueprint for reducing gun violence, and he pledged to submit new gun control proposals to Congress by the end of January. On Wednesday Biden announced that the President would use a combination of legislation and executive orders to achieve the goal. 

Obama can’t just outlaw high capacity ammo magazines and re-introduce a ban on assault weapons, but he can support legislation for it. Obviously hardliners in Congress will be a problem again, but they’re a weakened body. And Obama can issue executive orders to ensure that a national data base that runs background checks on gun owners is fed updated and accurate information.

He can also improve federal mental health programs – which will tie Congress in a bit of a knot, since the NRA’s big argument is that the problem is mental health and not guns, but Congress wants Obama to cut on spending. Once again they’ll make fools of themselves. But that’s by the bye.

Obama can also order the Justice Department to effectively prosecute people who lie on their application forms for a gun license. He is obviously committed to doing whatever he can. He can’t go it alone, but he doesn’t have to. New York State is about to pass what will be some of America’s toughest gun-control laws. The only potential resistance to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposal is from Senate Republicans, but they have indicated they won’t block it.

Gabrielle Gifford, still recovering from being shot, and her husband Mark Kelly have launched a political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions. They are also calling for contributions to help politicians stay independent of funding from the gun industry and the NRA  who politically exterminate politicians resisting them.

In Connecticut, measures were introduced by State Rep. Stephen Dargan (Democrat) to make the addresses of 170,000 gun owners public information, and by State Sen. Martin Looney (Democrat) to prohibit anybody from buying bullets if they have a restraining or protective order against them, or have been convicted of a misdemeanour or a felony.

Extremists are losing ground in America. The gun industry and gun lobbyists love to use threat, but the more noise they make, the more they expose themselves for what they are, and the more resistance to their brand of lunacy grows. Not just amongst level-headed and courageous politicians, but amongst everybody.  

Collage of images from public domain: Centre, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Clockwise from top left: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Chuck Hagel, Gabrielle Giffords, Joe Biden