Countering the NRA’s Reign of Terror

Two instances in the coverage of yesterday’s horrific shooting in a small Christian elementary school in an affluent section of Nashville, Tennessee, seem instructive.

First, a local reporter covering the Nashville story said on air that she, herself, was a survivor of a school shooting when she was in middle school.

Then, a woman who had survived the July 4, 2022, Highland Park, Illinois, mass shooting interrupted a news conference to ask reporters “Aren’t you tired of this?” She and her son were simply visiting Nashville and were near the Covenant School site when the ambulances drove by.

It seems to me this is a relatively new phenomenon: each time one of these mass shootings occurs, we hear from people who have previously escaped harm from an earlier event in a different locale.

That is deeply unsettling. But I think it’s apparent that certain segments of our society want us to live in this kind of fear.

Each publicized event results in a spate of gun sales—purchased by both the heavily armed who are sure the government wants to seize their weapons and frightened observers. The money surrounding these weapons of war is exorbitant.

Asian Americans, who had been the lowest demographic group to own guns, are increasingly arming themselves. Who can blame them? They’ve been targeted in both individual hate crimes and several mass shootings.

Where will all this end? At the pace we’re going, no place good. I won’t get into all the arguments that are often bandied about, but clearly this distressing evidence of American exceptionalism means there will be more accidents, more encounters that wouldn’t otherwise turn deadly, more children deprived of their futures, and more grieving families.

And we never hear stories about the seriously injured, whose lives are often forever altered in dreadful ways.

I don’t believe we have to settle for this grim future. Tennessee State Rep. Bo Mitchell, a Democrat, was in the Covenant School room where the parents were waiting to be notified when they could reunite with their children. One parent received word that her child had been killed, and Mitchell said the sound of anguish was indescribable.

If more of my colleagues could have heard that cry,” he said, “I think it would have changed their minds.

Mitchell stressed that after the 2012 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut legislators enacted a series of gun safety measures that have reduced gun deaths by 43%.

Shannon Watts, founder of the highly influential Moms Demand Action organization, stressed that Republicans like Joni Ernst of Iowa voted for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in 2022 because they heard—loud and clear—from their Republican constituents. Though modest, it was the first solid gun safety legislation passed in nearly three decades.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also voted for the bill, and he encouraged enough of his colleagues to do so to pass the legislation. He acted as a savvy politician, concerned about Republican and Independent voters in the suburbs. Fifteen Senate Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues to pass that bill last year.

I know there is skepticism that even if an assault weapons/large capacity magazine ban and universal background checks could pass, such legislation would be unenforceable. There’s reason for concern: one oft-cited statistic is that law enforcement officials in 60% of US counties don’t enforce the legislation that’s on the books. Gun safety advocate Sen. Chris Murphy made that statement. Politifact found it “Half True,” but it does point to problems when law enforcement officers make their own decisions concerning what laws they prioritize.

And it’s reasonable to question how we can stop the mania for these weapons that should never have been allowed to be sold but are now available in some states with no restrictions whatsoever.

We simply can’t surrender to this madness. Former Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat who won a number of elections in the red state of Missouri, said in an interview that democracies fail in two ways: one is due to interference with the electoral processes; the other is a failure to listen to the will of the electorate.

She urged every mother, father, grandmother, grandfather to think about what they were doing today as they clicked the child they are caring for into a car seat. The government requires seat belts for children’s safety “because the data is clear; car seats save children’s lives.” Americans understood that and accepted it.

Similar data is clear about what weapons of war are doing to children.

In her state of Missouri, the legislature has just voted to allow children of any age to handle these guns without adult supervision. “They’re so out of step with where most Americans are,” she said. “I’m sick of it, and I think most Americans are too.”

McCaskill believes that it’s time “for the Democratic Party to run on opposition to guns that are weapons of war…It’ll work,” she claimed.

In January, 2023, Senators Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Dianne Feinstein, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy, and 32 other Democrats reintroduced legislation to regulate assault weapons: The Assault Weapons Ban of 2023. President Biden has reiterated his support for such a ban. Passage in this House, led by the Insurrectionist Caucus, is not going to happen. But we must keep going.

Responsible gun owners are worried about their schoolkids too. Gun violence is a public health issue. If we fail to insist that our legislators address it in a responsible, data-driven way, we are failing America’s children.

And that means we are failing the future of America. Polls suggest some voters have concluded the problem has become insurmountable. We can’t let fear drive us to numbness and passivity.

Your thoughts?


38 thoughts on “Countering the NRA’s Reign of Terror

  1. I don’t know what to say Annie. I was shocked and saddened by the news. In many ways I can’t relate, as we don’t have a gun culture here. I don’t know one single person who owns a gun, not even farmers anymore wanting to shoot raccoons or foxes. But I’m also puzzled by the pro-gun lobbying groups – don’t they have children too? When this continues to happen over and over again, what excuse do they have for continuing with their stance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s hard to fathom, Joni. We’re not talking about sport weapons. These are weapons designed to do maximum damage to human beings—truly weapons of war. There was a kerfuffle because Ogles, the Congressman representing Nashville, had sent out a Christmas card showing his family, including two of his three kids, holding these weapons. Now he’s offering thoughts and prayers. We have become a gun culture over the last several decades; we have to find a balance somehow.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Wow, that’s just crazy. I read recently that the parents of that 16 yr old Michigan school shooter have to stand trial now too, (the charges set a precedent), as they bought him the gun for Christmas and he posted pictures of his present, and they knew he was having issues) .

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Right; that is a good precedent. In Nashville, the shooter’s parents didn’t think she should have a gun due to mental instability. But Tennessee has no red flag law that some say may have helped the parents gain control of the daughter’s multiple weapons. These are laws some rogue police aren’t enforcing—another problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An excellent point, William, underscoring another way an energized citizenry can make a difference. And if it were to happen in a red state, the action could truly resonate.


  3. It is difficult to keep the faith with the current GOP in charge. The solutions are obvious. But the structural problems, which I have discussed , ad nauseum, are also obvious. We are hostages to a poorly designed governmental system. I am thoroughly convinced there will be no meaningful gun legislation during what is left of my lifetime. I don’t see a solution.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I certainly understand your despair, Joseph. But tell me: did you ever think Mitch McConnell would facilitate even the modest legislation package that became law last year?


      1. The bill supported by McConnell did not ban one gun. It was all about funding for “mental health” and other issues. It avoids the problem. So I am not surprised Mitch supports a bill that plays into the GOP narrative that guns are not the problem. The Feinstein bill attacks the real issue… guns.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. True, Joseph. But gun safety orgs very very pleased w some of its foci, such as implementing red flag laws, closing domestic partners loophole, and others. It was, importantly, a crack in the armor. The fight goes on.


    1. That comment made me gasp, Patti. We must hope that there is, after all, enough humanity left in these legislators to enable them to react as he conjectured. Alas, they haven’t rushed to prove him right.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I believe in the US there are vast differences between the two parties. One seeks to pass legislation to improve the lives of Americans — including a ban on assault weapons and gun safety measures; the other pursues policies that are quite simply cruel—and seeks to deny people the right to vote, the right to healthcare, etc, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. American citizens of every stripe are going to put $280 billion dollars into OUR war machine in 2024. The world spent $2113 billion in 2022 to keep the possibility for death and destruction at the top of the heap. In “A Christmas Story” young Ralphie let’s loose a profanity for which he and his buddy receive the classic washing of the mouth for teaching each other bad words. The Old Man approves. Parent’s everywhere would like to know where their children are getting this stuff. Mirrors don’t seem to help. Two thousand billion a year! What’s a little hunger as long as your safe and warm?


      1. The demon is in the hand not the tool. I suggest we not blinder ourselves toward what puts the demon in the hand. Brings to mind the story of the two wolves of conscious. Feeding either one 2 thousand billion dollars a year is over-feeding.


  5. Annie, I think the only way we’ll ever get serious gun control legislation is voting out the gun-loving Representatives and Senators who oppose the idea, and I don’t know how likely that is in a country where there are 20 per cent more guns than people (I read today that about 10 per cent of our citizens own an AR-15 type weapon–scary!). I’m also for repeaiing and replacing the Second Amendment, to echo the Republicans’ mantra about Obama Care. It can only happen if enough people get angry enough with the non-stop carnage to make something change.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s not really the 2nd Amendment that is the problem. It is the radical interpretation by the SCOTUS. The Dems need to pack the court with 4 more appointees.There is no other solution.Any gun control bill that has teeth in it will simply be ruled “unconstitutional” by the current SCOTUS. They have captured the court.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Maybe you’re right about packing the Supreme Court, but I have my doubts that it could happen–FDR tried it, and it didn’t fly. Term limits for Supreme Court justices make sense, but that’s no help in the short term..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m hearing some very responsible individuals say we must increase the number of Justices, George. The flagrant disregard for precedents, standing, and other foundational aspects of justice demands redress—before more rights are removed.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Totally agree about our need to make saving children’s lives a major election issue, George. As for repealing the Second Amendment, I can’t see that happening. I think we do need to educate those who might listen that it’s only been since the Heller decision in 2008 that the SC has said people have a right to arms—in their homes. Many legal scholars say that’s a misinterpretation of the Second Amendment: it was a well-regulated militia—not private citizens. And even Scalia said in Heller that there could be restrictions.

      We’ve allowed our society to be turned into a gun culture. We have to try to address that thinking—somehow.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Well I’ve said it before, but in other countries a firearm is a tool like a wrench or a chainsaw. Those who need the tool have it, as well as an appropriate level of training and regulation. Firearms that have little use as tools are quite rare.

    All the excuses about video games, single parents, mental illness etc fall away when you realize that there are other countries, and those countries have all these things too. What they don’t have is easy access to guns, and the scale of shootings.

    David Frum has written some good articles about the subject:

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A fine idea, Roger. I do wonder, though, when we read comments about “God’s will” sacrificing children to what some consider the greater glory of “freedom” to have and use such weapons of war. One Tennessee legislator said he “protects” his children by home schooling them. It’s all unfathomable thinking to me.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Same here Annie.
        Looking back it would seem that somewhere around the late 1970s in sections of the population the fundamentalist mindset dug deeper into the psyche, and with each progressive move formulated a wilder regressive reaction.
        An African American in the Whitehouse caused the firestorm of irrationality to erupt into public popularism.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. The magic in magic is in misdirection. They have convinced you to look for the keys here under the street light instead of over in the dark where you lost them. You want the masters of drug control to control drugs. Scarface knew how to control drugs. Reinstating the assault weapons’ ban would do wonders to stop future nuts from getting an AR-15. Want a faster, easier, capitalist solution to the problem? These are sophisticated weapons of war designed and manufactured under strict specifications for the 1960’s military. (Vietnam, don’t ya know) They are made of 60’s high tech and material prowess. Every AR manufactured in the US uses a PROPIETARY steel named Carpenter 158 made by the Carpenter steel company, the sole maker, for the AR-15 bolts. I would bet I could buy it for less than 44 billion and tie up the manufacture of said weapons for at least as long as the 2022 cars have been waiting for their computer chips.
    It did pain me you misunderstood my message. I am totally on your side. I don’t have time to be ineffective and I’m too lazy to make a deal with Carpenter. Ineffective opposition will be our future as long as the real problem is not addressed and cash money will always get you guns, drugs and whores with politicians cutting each other’s throats for a share.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you should shop that idea re: Carpenter, Richard. The way you describe it makes it sound feasible, which would be wonderful!
      Don’t worry about my misunderstanding. Fortunately, we get more than one chance to communicate our ideas here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A gun is not a simple machine like a knife. It is built from required precision parts made to exacting specifications often from a single source like the AR rifle bolts. There is no mention of cartridge ammunition in the Constitution. Cartridge’s could be regulated till the cows come home without the Supremes intervention. They already are because capitalism. The key component being a small tiny explosive charge called a primer. These are not made by amateurs. The 4 US manufactures can not keep up with commercial demand leaving the reloader population without resources. If you look at money being the problem then the money must also be part of the solution. Catch and kill is in the news lately. It has been a staple in the pest control community since before agriculture.


  8. One parent received word that her child had been killed, and Mitchell said the sound of anguish was indescribable.
    “If more of my colleagues could have heard that cry,” he said, “I think it would have changed their minds.“

    First of all, I can’t begin to imagine that anguish.

    Second, I wish that I could be as optimistic as Mr. Mitchell. I, like many people, thought that Sandy Hook would be the tipping point. It is still breath taking to me that the result at the federal level was crickets (after the obligatory thoughts and prayers). Well, we know what’s happened over the past decade. With every shooting there is more nonsense and BS emanating from the right side of the aisle.

    After Nashville, Rep. Burchett of TN at least had the honesty to admit that we’ll do nothing. Beyond that he talked utter nonsense, even suggesting that America needs a revival (a religious one, not a revival of reason and common sense, which is what we REALLY need). Ted Cruz suggested more armed guards at schools just like they have at banks. Not only was it an absurd notion on its face, but it turned out that Teddy’s suggestion did not age well, as ten days later a mass shooting occurred in — a bank. Hence my lack of optimism. Don’t take that to mean that I’m throwing up the white flag.

    I have a relative in Wyoming who owns a few guns (because – Wyoming). She subscribes to a domino theory that once assault weapons are banned then it’s just a matter of time before the nation will be left unarmed and at the mercy of a Socialist state.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Paul. I appreciate your comment. Yes, I’m waiting for reporters to ask Cruz if he’s had any second thoughts about his bank allusion.

      It’s tough to see how we end the madness when the opposition seems so intractable. But we haven’t always lived like this; the Heller decision was in 2008–not that long ago. I hope that the two issues of abortion and gun safety legislation will lead to massive voter participation that will enable us to firm up our shaken democracy and set it more firmly toward the “arc of justice.”

      Do you engage your Wyoming relative? Are any legislative moves acceptable? Permits? insurance? I’m guessing no…


      1. Hello Annie, “I’m waiting for reporters to ask Cruz if he’s had any second thoughts about his bank allusion.” I’m not sure the reporters will ask but if they do they’ll hear the sounds of silence. The only thing I remember Ted having second thoughts about is over the subject of Donald Trump’s fitness for being president.

        Do you engage your Wyoming relative? Are any legislative moves acceptable? Permits? insurance? I’m guessing no…
        Your guess is correct. She’s a firm believer in a domino theory that would end with _____(fill in the Democrat) repealing the 2nd Amendment. I explained to her the steep climb necessary to pass an amendment nullifying a previous amendment. I even told her that 12 states voting no would kill such an amendment and she’s already been spotted the former Confederate States plus her own and most of the Midwest, but she wasn’t buying it. As Buffalo Springfield once put it, “Paranoia strikes deep.”
        Love your blog,

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi, Paul—

        I respect your determination to continue engaging your gun-lovin’ relative. Perhaps you can explain to her that some prominent Constitutional scholars believe Heller was a blatant misinterpretation of the Second Amendment. (That’s a little attempt at levity on my part…)

        Thank you for your generous words about my blog. Ditto! I’m very pleased we’ve connected.

        Liked by 1 person

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