|SAN ANTONIO, October 5 - The latest mass shooting at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard exposes a sad truth about modern-day U.S. society: military men and women in our DOD installations are no longer safe from flying bullets.
At the recent memorial for victims and their families, President Obama warns that unless we act immediately, such occurrences will be the new normal. Indeed, unless we do something now, his somber prediction will occur. Children and their teachers can no longer assume that they’re safe in K-12 and college campuses. Citizens can no longer attend church, go to a movie, shop at the mall, gather to watch a neighborhood ball game, or go to work without thinking of their security. What is the cause? In my view, the country is being consumed by an entrenched violence attitude stoked daily by a den of assault weapon addicts gone wild.
Dr. Janis Orlowski, Chief Medical Officer at Washington's MedStar Hospital put it bluntly: “There is something evil in our society; we as Americans must work together and eradicate it. She added the comment, “Put my trauma center out of business.” In case you were wondering, when she spoke those heartfelt words, she was not only talking to reporters at the news conference. She was talking to elected official decision-makers and those who elect them -- you and me. How did we get to this sorry state of affairs? How do we get out of it before more innocents die? More importantly, how can we help Dr. Orlowski fulfill her wish?
First, how did we get here? There are many reasons. Some say it’s the easy availability of weapons, adding that it’s easier in some conservative-run states to buy an assault rifle than to vote. Others say that it’s violent video games. We all know the kind. The ones that parents complain about, but they purchase anyway for their children and themselves. Still, others point at our outlaw-worshipping, Old West-based movie culture where a gun is considered a cure-all when a citizen (regardless of their mental state) is facing a problem. In short, sufficient to say we deserve better.
Astonishingly, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre diminishes the tragedy of repetitive mass shootings by saying that individual rights to buy guns and hi-capacity ammo clips are more important than those of the community where the murders occur. Unconscionable!
Moreover, Mr. LaPierre’s idea that “good guys” with guns prevent mass shootings is mindless. A number of mass shooters themselves seem to have been good guys before initiating their killing sprees. Several served in the military, some are connected to civilian law enforcement, and young shooters look like the “good kids” next door. The question is does easy access to powerful guns trigger tragedies?
Rather than cogently answering the question during his appearance on Sunday talk shows, Mr. LaPierre dwelt on his characteristic lecture: (1) the answer to the U.S. culture of violence is to put more weapons in the streets, schools, malls, churches, and places of work. (2) Buy more guns; and (3) an AR-15 assault weapon is the solution to one’s problems no matter how big or small. In projecting Mr. LaPierre’s remedy for other addictions, he is in essence saying we must treat alcoholism by surrounding alcoholics with bottles of liquor; and drug addiction must be treated by surrounding drug addicts with illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia. Disingenuous!
Sadly, they won’t admit it, but Mr. LaPierre and his NRA gun powder-sniffing cronies have spiraled into an out-of-control addiction. Meanwhile, they continue to hold the country hostage as co-dependents.
Now to the second question, how do we get out of this mess? First, let’s clear the air. Hunting and protecting one’s home are not the issues here. No one’s coming after my guns; no one’s coming after yours. Second, write, call, or email your elected representatives (regardless of party) and tell them to refuse NRA and gun manufacturer campaign donations.
Clearly, NRA members long to return their group to its roots of promoting safe gun ownership, marksmanship, hunting, police training, and self-defense. They don’t like the gun-nut persona that Mr. LaPierre has brought to the organization. Surveys and polls show that NRA membership overwhelmingly supports gun control measures, such as background checks. So, it’s obvious that the NRA leadership is out of touch with its members.
It’s time to tell Mr. LaPierre and his NRA pistoleros that they can no longer hide their gun addiction behind the Second Amendment. As co-dependents, we are faced with only one solution -- intervention. We can take our government back from the clutches of NRA exploitation only if we stay and vote together. The next tragedy doesn’t have to happen.
My friends, there’s only one way to stop Mr. LaPierre’s NRA Mad Men. That is, good gal, good guy elected officials with courage to do two things: (l) enact timely, common sense gun control measures and (2) devote necessary resources toward mental health treatment and research. (News reports indicate that the beautiful young mom killed by police for ramming her car into the White House barriers suffered from mental illness. We must do something to help those in need.) In the words of U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords: “Doing nothing is not the American way”.
Finally, here’s my suggestion to the Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Brady Campaign, as well as an answer to Dr. Orlowski’s plea. Start a nationwide public service announcement campaign via TV/radio/internet social media/billboard, newspapers, churches, hospitals, and work places with the following sober message: We support gun control and we vote!
José Antonio (Joe) López was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and is a USAF Veteran. He now lives in Universal City, Texas. He is the author of three previous books: “The Last Knight (Don Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara Uribe, A Texas Hero),”; “Nights of Wailing, Days of Pain (Life in 1920s South Texas)”, and “The First Texas Independence, 1813”. Lopez is also the founder of the Tejano Learning Center, LLC, and www.tejanosunidos.org, a Web site dedicated to Spanish Mexican people and events in U.S. history that are mostly overlooked in mainstream history books.