Apr 11, 2013 - Issue 512

 BlackCommentator.com: Congress’ “Moonwalk” On The Assault Weapons Ban: All The Rhetoric Was For Naught

Bookmark and Share

From the time the tragic school massacre occurred that killed 20 young children (and their teachers) on December 14th, 2012, the national debate shifted to what could be done. For the past three and a half months, all we heard from Congress, the pundits and the media was that, “It was time!!!” Time for what? Time to do something about the proliferation of guns in our society, particularly, assault weapons. The NRA came out with the most outrageous statement we had ever heard, in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, no less. Assault weapons are not the problem. Huh? Then it flipped, “government wants to take our guns.”

Now we have to have another national debate.

And we have…for nearly four months. Congress came back, two days after the Inauguration, full of “piss and vinegar,” vowing to do the right thing. California U.S. Senator, Dianne Feinstein, rolled out a comprehensive gun reform bill, comprehensive being the operative term.

Comprehensive, in this instance, means inclusive of an assault weapons ban that was allowed to expire in 2004. Suddenly, the Feinstein bill was considered “dead on arrival.” Why? Because it included an assault weapons ban. What??? Yeah, you heard it right. The very thing that caused the national outrage was written out of the legislation, first. Now the public is even debating the size of gun magazines. Banning high capacity magazines that shoot over 15 rounds sounds reasonable, right? Well, it’s now the sticking point of the current pending legislation.

The outrage is gone. Or is it? The gun lobby plays to the nation’s fear of government, of the current President (Negrophobia) and our love of liberty to convolute the issue. So what we know is not good for us, the nation is prepared to tolerate a little longer…until the next time.

In December, 54% of Americans polled said they were in favor of comprehensive gun reform. One Hundred days later, it’s down to 46%. Now Congress is having a problem passing a watered down bill that just expands background checks. And the President has to focus his attention on the issue to keep gun control reform on the legislative agenda. As we say in the community, “This is some bull…” The American people deserve more than this. 

The problem is that most Congress members are pollwatchers. When polls favored gun control, they favored gun control. Now that the polls are slipping, suddenly Congress is slipping. In fact, Congress is doing a total moonwalk… they look like they’re stepping forward on the issue but they’re actually moving backwards. It’s the politics of illusion that have created a delusion.

The nation is clearly delusional if they believe this is simply a background check problem. Criminals and other gun enthusiasts can get guns without background checks, or with background checks. We didn’t get alarmed at Sandy Hook because the shooter didn’t pass a background check. What alarmed us was the massive array of war weaponry to which the shooter had legal access. He was just a kid. Some think, a disturbed kid - but a kid nonetheless - who shot his own mother. A nation that turned its back on the mentally ill chose to reintroduce that discussion before it introduced a discussion on banning assault weaponry. The excuses just keep coming as to why we, and Congress, can’t do the right thing, ban assault weapons.

It sends the wrong signals to our society as to what is important in our society. Education is not important. Literacy is not important. Unrestricted gun ownership is important. Defending your gun rights has twisted this nation’s priorities beyond reason…and the youth know it. Kids on the streets may not know where the local library or bookstore is but they know where they can get a gun…any kind of gun they want. Including assault weapons.

There are 350 million guns in circulation in America, more than the national population (311 million). America doesn’t have a gun problem, it has a gun addiction. The problem is that the addiction has gotten bigger. Like a druggie that looks for a more power high, America’s now fiending for more powerful guns. The Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms for hunting and home protection. Assault weapons, and the ammunition that goes with them, are not compatible with that guarantee. Assault weapons are for fighting wars. What war is America looking to fight at home?

Search the internet and be prepared to be shocked. I’m not going to say it here, but it’s central to America’s social construct from its very outset. There is no other reason to explain the nation’s resistance to give up the most dangerous threat in our society. Our second amendment rights aren’t being threaten, just our scene of security and democratic stability are being threatened.

We can regulate drugs in our society, and determine which ones can be sold “over the counter” and which ones need a prescription…because they’re too dangerous for self medication. But we can’t do the same for guns? Please… 

The moonwalking our society is doing on gun reform is unjust, irrational and unethical.

The rhetoric after Sandy Hook is an insult to the lives that were lost and society will pay a cost if it doesn’t become rational and pragmatic around gun reform in supporting an assault weapons ban. Anything less is milk toast policymaking that won’t change a thing.

BlackCommentator.com Columnist, Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad, is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum and author of REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics In 21st Century Popular Culture and Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom. His Website is AnthonySamad.com. Twitter @dranthonysamad. Click here to contact Dr. Samad.