Newtown

What If Our Dead Kids *DO* Trump Your Gun Rights?

In the farce that was the 2008 campaign of John McCain and Sarah Palin, one of the main fools was played by Joe the Plumber. Well, his name wasn’t Joe. And he wasn’t a plumber. But that was the stage name of Samuel Wurzelbacher of Ohio. He was the hood ornament on the Fox-sponsored GOP clown car that year.

Last Friday, a deranged man went on a slashing and shooting rampage, killing six young people near the UC Santa Barbara campus. He then committed suicide, leaving behind a video and a 140-page manifesto that expresses a shockingly demented hatred of women.

Just days later, the country is still reeling from the savagery of this crime, the killer’s unhinged misogyny and the soul-numbing reality of yet another mass shooting of young people in America. But today is the day that ‘Joe the Plumber’ published an “open letter to the parents of the victims” of the Santa Barbara spree. And here is what Mr Wurzelbacher wants the parents – and all of us – to know:

“Your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.”

I was certain this was some kind of inappropriate sick satire.

But no, this is a verbatim quote from his letter published on Barbwire.com – which (naturally) boasts “a decidedly biblical worldview”. As you might imagine, this unconscionable affront to the grieving parents of murdered children has set half of the internet on fire… while the other half pours gasoline.

Wait a minute though. I think there is tremendous power in this twisted slur. Think about it. He declares something to be true: Your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights. But I think Mr Not-A-Plumber got it exactly wrong. Our dead kids DO trump your gun rights.

Our dead kids. They have names. Cassie, Steve, Corey, Kelly, Matt, Daniel, Rachel, Isaiah, John, Daniel, Lauren, Kyle, Areceli, Kristi, Shawn, Joseph, Cassandra, Susan, Justin, Kayla, Bryan, Randy, Aaron, Seth, James, Bart, Alicia, Thurlene, Chanelle, Chase, Dewayne, Emily, Naomi, Marian, Anna Mae, Lena, Mary Liz, Kirsten, Emily, Ryan, Ross, Brian, Austin, Daniel, Matthew, Caitlin, Rachel, Emily, Matthew, Jarrett, Henry, Lauren, Daniel, Erin, Michael, Julia, Mary Karen, Reema, Leslie, Maxine, Nicole, Catalina, Ryanne, Daniel, Gayle, Ryan, Chavares, Christina, Daniel, Russell, Demetrius, Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, Ana, James, Grace, Emily, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin, Allison, Claire, Trayvon, Jordan, Katie, Chris, Veronika… and so many thousands more.

The horrifying fact is that 8 children every day are murdered with a gun in America. In the 15 years since Columbine, more than 43,800 children have been shot to death. In their homes, in their neighborhoods, in their schools, in their churches, in their cinemas and malls. Their short lives, ended, with a bullet.

There is only one way to honor the memory of our kids who have been murdered with guns. There is only one way to give them a voice. There is only one way to save a child – maybe yours – from being murdered with a gun. We must change the laws to more effectively regulate the sale and possession of firearms and ammunition in this country.

What makes this entire situation so galling is that it is a failure of political will. After the massacre of babies at Sandy Hook, various incremental and sensible gun control laws were supported by 70% to 90% of the American people. But the 535 members of the House and Senate were unable to pass anything at all. And the President caved to the political status quo. in the year-and-a-half since Newtown, there has been something on the order of 15,000 gun homicides… 4,000 of the dead are kids under 18.

My friend Peter suggests a simple yet powerful idea: a pledge. Similar to the “Taxpayer Proection Pledge” that Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform have used to successfully bludgeon politicians for 20 years now. It could be implemented immediately and at almost zero cost by an existing gun control advocacy group such as Moms Demand Action. We are in the midst of an election year. Every member of Congress is up for reelection along with 1/3 of the Senate. That is nearly 1,000 candidates for Congress, all drawn to the glare of the tv lights. Take the pledge to each of them, at every campaign stop. Democrats. Republicans. Incumbents. Challengers. Send it to all of their campaigns. Give them a week to return the signed pledge. And then, confront them. Loudly. Publicly. Notify the local media. Ask them to sign the pledge, or to explain why they won’t. It might look something like this:

kids.bulletproof.pledge

When 70% or 80% or 90% of Americans want various gun control measures, they should get done. Notwithstanding the NRA’s threats, bribes and extortion. NRA pretends to represent gun owners, but they are paid lobbyists for the gun manufacturers and sellers. Their job is to make America safe for guns. It is the job of Congress to make America safe for Americans. And we must start by defending our children’s lives.

Should our politicians be held to account on gun control issues through the use of a pledge like this? Is there a better way to do it? I’m only interested in constructive ideas. You can spout off about your 2nd Amendment rights… but you should really go do that somewhere else. It’ll never see the light of day on this page.

kids.bulletproof

The End (so far)

 

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White-Hot Anger

I stand in solidarity with Richard Martinez whose 20-year-old son Chris was murdered by the shooter in Santa Barbara:

 

Every candidate running for Congress – incumbents and challengers, of any party – should be met with this same white-hot anger over our political leadership’s complete dereliction of duty in the face of out-of-control gun violence in America. At every campaign stop, every interview, every debate, every public appearance. Will they vote for a bill requiring 100% background checks on gun purchases and/or transfers, no loopholes? It is a yes-or-no question. Demand the answer. Demand action. Demand vastly increased funding for mental health evaluation and treatment. Demand restrictions on magazine capacity and ammunition. Demand the same ban on semi-automatic weapons that we have on fully automatic weapons (machine guns). Demand change. This is your country.


“We don’t have to live like this. Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, ‘Not one more.'”

– Richard Martinez


Update

I received a comment from one of the “gun huggers”. It is morally repugnant, intellectually bankrupt – and soulless. His words reveal an unfathomable lack of empathy. I am including part of his remarks here – as an example of the sort of right-wing indecency I will not tolerate on this blog… and hope we, as a society, will no longer tolerate:

I plan to demand that my representatives protect the 2nd Amendment against bigots and I will need to send some money the NRA-ILA to help them combat the outrageous attack by this man – his grief is no excuse.

NB: Yes, this is censorship. And no one’s 1st Amendment rights have been violated. Why? Because I am not the government. 

Ten More Kids Will Be Shot Dead By Christmas

www.facebook.com/OccupyDemocrats

Occupy Democrats

If you want gun control in this country, then show the crime scene photographs of the children who are blown to bits by semi-automatic gunfire. “That’s insensitive to the familes!” Really? Their children have been murdered. They’re dead. They’re not coming back. They’re not growing up. And why? Because the will of the vast majority of Americans is nullified by a handful of lobbyists who bribe/extort a few dozen members of Congress.
    Like so many, I assumed the unprecedented HORROR at Sandy Hook Elementary would – finally – be enough to break the NRA’s hold on Congress. The country was convulsed in shock and grief. Public opinion was almost unanimous for new, effective, federal gun control laws. The president’s resolve, along with that of many in Congress, seemed unshakeable.
    And like so many, I was stunned and disgusted by the total capitulation of our national political “leadership” to the gun lobby – within mere months of Newtown.
    I also have to say this – as unpopular as it will be: I am so frustrated with all the well-meaning groups who raise money, put up websites, release videos, collect signatures on endless petitions… to what end?! I do appreciate that this activity can be extremely therapeutic for some concerned people, especially the families of the dead. I get that. But… are they just lulling the country to sleep with the illusion of doing something?
    As the first anniversary approaches, some of the families of Newtown have made an appeal for people to do an act of kindness in remembrance of the dead. An act of kindness? OK. But what about an Act of Congress?! The fact is, gun sales broke records in the year since Newtown. And 200 more kids have been murdered with guns. TWO. HUNDRED. MORE. KIDS. SHOT DEAD. The average age of these kids? Six years old. Can you even wrap your head around these statistics? I cannot. This carnage is the equivalent of about one “Newtown” every month. (click on the graphic for more details and a link to the source page)
    So, if you want gun control in this country, show the photos. Speaking truth to the NRA’s power requires our most powerful truth: the horrific, gruesome, soul-shattering photographs of dead kids in their classrooms. Or wherever they are killed by bullets fired from guns. In their living rooms. On street corners. In cinemas and malls. Wherever, whenever.The last photo taken of them is the only voice these kids can still raise against the guns that ended their lives, so young, so brutally. And for no other reason than our collective, cowardly inability to save them. Show the photos.