THE BLOG
08/09/2012 03:10 pm ET Updated Oct 09, 2012

Congress: Time to Stand Up to the Gun Lobby

Once again we come together to mourn the loss of six more innocent Americans who were killed last Sunday at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The second mass shooting in two weeks was no less tragic and no less preventable. In response, we've heard our elected officials offer condolences and obligatory denunciations of gun violence, but to no surprise, we've heard nothing that recognizes their responsibility to enact reasonable reforms to gun ownership laws that could help limit access to lethal firearms by violent criminals and help stop the next mass shooting.

The gunman, a 40-year-old ex-Army, neo-Nazi, stormed into a peaceful place of worship with a semiautomatic firearm and multiple ammunition clips and opened fire, killing six people and wounding three. The alleged shooter purchased his guns and ammunition legally at a federally licensed dealer, and was not held up by the screening process. An Army veteran who was discharged for dishonorable behavior, the shooter also had a record including a DUI and criminal mischief. The most egregious facet of his character, pointing to his motive and his tendency towards violence, was his public involvement in the white power movement and his outspoken hatred and intolerance of ethnic diversity in the United States. The man had been identified by federal law enforcement and anti-hate watch groups like Southern Poverty Law Center, and yet, he was able to legally acquire and openly carry firearms under Wisconsin's notoriously lax gun laws. It's time to ask why we are still waiting for our elected officials to take action against gun violence and why Congress and Presidential candidates are ducking their heads, ignoring the issue of unrestricted access to guns by criminals, even known terrorists, and greedily accepting campaign contributions from the gun industry.

Nobody wants this violence to persist and continue to threaten American families and neighborhoods. Yet, with post-shooting blood money pouring into the unregulated and unapologetic gun industry, now firmly rooted in Wall Street, and then into Washington as political donations, the financial incentive to dismiss the need for common sense reform of gun access laws is just too enticing for our spineless politicians in Congress who are happy to ignore the 30,000 Americans killed by guns a year so long as the money flows and public outrage remains limited.

We must do better than this. We're supposed to be a model for civilized society and a beacon of hope in a world filled with violence and injustice. But when we can't keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists, and when we watch apathetically as 83 Americans including 8 children are killed by firearms today and every day, that hope is hard to find. It's time that we honor the victims of the long and bloody history of gun violence in the United States, more victims than all American soldiers killed in all foreign wars combined.

There have been 61 mass shootings since the massacre in Tucson, Arizona when Congresswomen Gabby Giffords was shot and critically wounded. Meanwhile her colleagues in Washington have continued to deny the need for new gun violence prevention laws. This unwillingness to stand up to the gun lobby and restrict gun access for criminals is nothing short of disgraceful negligence. It's time that members of Congress recognize that the last straw is far gone and that they are failing in their duty to serve and protect their country and the people they represent.

Shame on the members of Congress who collect the special interest blood money from the gun lobby and gun manufacturers and knowingly allow criminals to buy guns undetected at the cost of 83 American lives every day!