In the wake of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, the response from Republicans has been its usual empty catch phrase: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims’ families.” Those 59 families have now become members of the club no one wants to join and have to hear disingenuous condolences from politicians who will do nothing to stop the carnage.
When pressed for a conversation on guns, Trump and Republican leaders pivot by saying, “This is not the time to talk about guns.” As NBC’s Chuck Todd aptly rebutted, did we say “now is not the time to talk about terror” when two planes flew into the World Trade Center towers on 9/11?
In a move tantamount to hell freezing over, the NRA actually conceded that the bump stock used by the shooter to make a semi-automatic into a fully automatic assault rifle might not be a good thing. They must’ve calculated that since the attack was directed at country music fans, they had to throw them a bone. It’s probably the only concession we’ll see from the current leadership of the NRA, and it’s a pathetically small one.
The only other notable action they’ve taken is to put a temporary hold on their sponsored attack ads against gubernatorial candidate Lt. Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring. How considerate of them. But not to worry, those ads will be running next week, telling Virginians these two men want to take away their guns – the same fear tactic they used against President Obama.
The truth is, Obama was great for gun sales. Thanks to willing purveyors of fake news like Fox News and Breitbart, the NRA convinced a substantial number of their paranoid base that it was only a matter of time before their guns were confiscated. Trump has been a disaster in many ways, but for the gun lobby the unintended consequences of his election is that gun sales are way, way down.
So what’s a guy like Wayne LaPierre to do? Accessorize! That’s right. If you have enough weaponry to fend off the zombie apocalypse (yes, there some out there actually preparing for it), then the must-have item is a silencer. To the true gun nut or potential felon, it’s akin to buying that Apple watch to compliment your iPhone.
Sadly, the concept of easily purchasing a silencer is not a joke. The purposely innocuous sounding “Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act” or SHARE includes a provision added by Republican congressman and wing nut Jeff Duncan of South Carolina that would reduce current restrictions on purchasing silencers or suppressors. Currently, it’s as hard to get a silencer as it is a machine gun or explosives. This insane bill would do away with that. For obvious reasons law enforcement and most rational human beings shudder at the prospect of silencers available to all. Can you imagine if the Las Vegas shooter was using one? He’d probably still be shooting.
The bill was due for a vote shortly before Congressman Steve Scalise was shot. Now, even in the wake of Las Vegas, Republicans are going to press on with the vote. Like a pimp keeping his junkie hookers in line, Wayne Lapierre feeds millions in campaign dollars to virtually every Republican in the country. They must obey, or Wayne will kick them to the curb and find someone with even less of a moral compass to do their bidding.
If there is one glimmer of hope, I’m hearing from some of my gun-owning friends there are rumblings within the NRA membership. They’re saying, “This isn’t what we signed up for.” If we are to have any meaningful change to stop the slaughter in this country, it’s going to come from the removal of 99 percent of Republican elected officials at the state and national level. Scalise nearly died from a gunshot wound. Even after that incident, then Las Vegas, he still thinks there should be no effort for sensible gun legislation. That just illustrates the different universe he and his colleagues inhabit.
A good start would be a coup from within the NRA. If they have the courage, they can remove LaPierre and his terrorist cabal and return the organization to what it was 40 years ago—a nonprofit devoted to teaching gun safety. When that happens, traitors like Trump, House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte and my cowardly congressman Morgan Griffith will have to get their fix from another source, if they can find one. They will be gone and our country will at least be a little safer.