Can Newtown Really Change Anything?

Brooklyn Congressman Jerry Nadler (D) said the Newtown school shooting once again reminds us of the need to discuss gun control and gun violence. That’s a no brainer. Sadly, it won’t happen. Soon the public mourning and calls for tightening laws regarding gun access will be overshadowed by the looming fiscal cliff or the next story to monopolize the one-crisis-at-a-time media and prove we are a nation with a short memory and shorter attention span.

President Obama, who has largely avoided the issue for the past four years and dodged questions during the campaign, spoke eloquently  at the memorial service Sunday night, and said this tragedy demands a response:

“Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm? If we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough, and we will have to change… In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), said, “ending easy access to deadly weapons must be part of the conversation in the wake of the tragedies in Connecticut and Oregon. I hope we will find the courage to take up this charge.”

She is right, but she can look across both sides of the aisle in the House chamber and know the courage isn’t there.  Instead the self-righteous enablers of mass murderers will continue aiding and abetting them in the uncompromising guise of defending the Second Amendment but really just trying to stay out of the NRA’s line of fire.

The gun lobby was lying low since the shooting but the Wall Street Journal indicated it may try to exploit this tragedy to eliminate “gun-free zones” and push for expanding the list of places where people may lawfully carry guns.

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-California) said that on the first day of the new Congress next month she will introduce legislation to ban assault rifles like the one used in Newtown on Friday, in Portland the previous Tuesday, in Aurora, in Tucson and in so many tragedies.  Does anyone doubt the NRA and its friends in the Senate will filibuster Feinstein’s bill and kill it – just as those 26 innocent people were killed on Friday in Newtown?

Much of the blood of what Nadler called this “unspeakable crime against innocent children” is on the hands of those in both parties who have blocked all restrictions on access to assault rifles, large ammo magazines and gun show purchases.

“If now is not the time to have a serious discussion about gun control and the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our society, I don’t know when is.  How many more Columbines and Newtowns must we live through?” Nadler asked.

The ADL renewed its call for “strong, effective and sensible gun control legislation.” That’s not a solution, the group noted, but it is “one way to limit the power of extremists and reduce violence in our communities.”

What justification can there be for the easy availability of high-powered killing machines like the AR-15?

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.