Gun violence is shockingly omnipresent these days. Part of the blame for this goes to Congress, which has consistently opposed sensible gun control legislation. There was gun control legislation in the U.S. until 2004 when Congress failed to renew it. Their failure to act after the Sandy Hill Massacre in 2012 made it painfully obvious that Congress has higher priorities than ending human suffering.
There has been wide and consistent support for sensible gun control legislation and for a ban on assault weapons. The Dominican Sisters of Peace took a Corporate Stand on this issue in 2014. There has always been wide support for the right to bear arms, but with that right comes the obligation to handle them responsibly.
Not only have our legislators failed to enact gun control laws, but they have also gone so far as to introduce bills to encourage gun use, like proposals in Ohio for Open Carry, or laws in Texas that allow guns to be carried in houses of worship.
It is discouraging that Congress has fallen so far under the political and financial influence of the NRA and other gun lobbies. It is just as discouraging that the NRA’s purpose has evolved from supporting the safe and controlled use of guns for sport, to knowingly supporting easy access to guns, even assault weapons. Arms purchase is unregulated at local gun shows and on the Internet. Now that we know that the NRA’s leadership is corrupt, will they still be able to influence Congress?
What would it be like today if our legislators had listened to the supporters of sensible gun control legislation instead of being swayed by the NRA? According to a study by Stanford University professor John Donohue, the Assault Weapons ban alone, which was allowed to lapse in 2004, was associated with a 25 percent drop in gun massacres (from eight to six) and a 40 percent drop in fatalities (from 81 to 49). Mandatory gun locks and safe storage laws – which do not affect gun ownership in any way – could reduce youth firearm deaths by 6 percent. Innumerable people might not be maimed or dead, and street violence would not be so far out of control.
When will we ever learn?