Humans, like bullets, move in predictable paths. We speak grandly of morals, values and philosophy, and then drive ceaselessly toward ensuring our physical/financial well being.
It's not that we don't care about our values and higher aspirations; we do. But we like to pretend to ourselves that our instinctive behaviors are secondary, rather than what often drive us.
After the Connecticut shootings, Meet the Press invited over 30 congresspeople who are NRA supporters to come on Sunday's program. Not one of them agreed to appear. Why? Because they knew they would have to assume an indefensible position. They would have to pretend that their values superseded their survival instinct. But they did not.
Congressional representatives like to keep their jobs. Since the common wisdom is that to challenge the policies of the NRA is tantamount to asking to be fired, did we really expect them to voluntarily give up their jobs? Would we do so?
Okay, so we know why Congress hasn't acted. But surely the NRA and its allies are the real culprits.
Actually, the NRA is doing what they think is in their economic best interest, just like every other industry, whether it's construction, tobacco or financial services: fighting to protect and grow its market. Let us not demonize the NRA and its self-deluding justifications for awful policy positions.
No, the fault lies with the rest of us for not adequately pushing back on the gun industry or forcing congress to fix our absurdly lax gun laws. Perhaps we were too busy pursuing our own physical/financial interests to spend much time worry about or taking action. But the events in Connecticut have now made clear that our physical well being is indeed threatened.
When any particular industry grows too large and despotic and encroaches on the rights and health of the rest of us, it is the responsibility of the the citizens to fight back to restore balance. The best parallel may be the tobacco industry, which also produces a product that has demonstrably taken many lives. We as a nation finally challenged big tobacco and as a result millions of lives have been saved. It's time to do the same with the gun lobby. If we don't, we will be to blame for the next batch of fallen children.
Surely, the sensible regulation of a special class of devices -- one that has the power to slaughter dozens of people in a matter of seconds -- is an acceptably small limitation of freedom to provide the far greater good of protecting our children.
Of course guns are only one of several factors that make these massacres possible. The societal causes for similarly alienated suburban loners need to be explored as do treatment and resources for the mentally ill.
In an encouraging sign, Joe Scarborough, the conservative libertarian-leaning pundit was among the first to publicly change his thinking about guns, based on this incident. I hope citizens on both sides of the aisle will take a fresh look and squeeze something good from this tragic event. We don't need to lay the blame for the past; we need to move forward and solve the problem now -- today, tomorrow and next week.