If gun safety advocates use the experience in Washington as a template and begin moving ballot initiatives for background checks into other states, they will not only negate the lobbying power of the NRA at the legislative level, but can use the financial resources of their chief supporters to equalize or overcome the monies that the NRA doles out for political campaigns.
This week began the way so many do: with more tragic gun violence, as three people were killed in two shootings at Jewish centers in the Kansas City area, part of the 86 killed by guns in the U.S. every day. "We are united in our condemnation of this heinous attack," said Attorney General Holder. "These acts cannot be ignored." And yet, one year ago this month, the Senate rejected even a modest background check bill, despite the support of 90 percent of Americans. In the wake of the Kansas shootings, Michael Bloomberg's $50 million gun control effort, "Everytown for Gun Safety," unveiled its first ad. We "have another chance to stop a child from being killed," it said. We do, but only if we refuse to lower our expectations. As Gabriel García Márquez, who died on Thursday, wrote, "It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams."
This week reminded us once again of the costs of accepting lowered expectations as the new normal. On Wednesday, a 5-4 Supreme Court decision struck down overall limits on campaign donations, further ceding our political system to the highest bidder in the guise of "free speech." On the same day, Ft. Hood, Texas suffered its second mass shooting in five years, as a married father of four, in a fit of anger, killed four people, including himself, and wounded 16 others. Senator Harry Reid introduced a background checks bill the next day, but it will likely suffer the same fate as the one that failed last year even with the support of 90 percent of Americans. The week ended with yet another middling jobs report, with just 192,000 added in March. All three of these things should spark urgent calls for reform and change, because accepting them as the new normal only guarantees more of the same.