The power of the gun lobby
After the tragic Virginia Tech shootings, public officials were falling all over themselves with promises of legislation to make guns less available to felons and persons with severe psychiatric issues. This month, the NRA managed to defeat those efforts by blocking reform that would have regulated the sale of guns at weekend gun shows.
None of us will forget the tragedy that occurred at Virgiana Tech when a young man with a lengthy psychiatric record purchased high tech weapons which he used to massacre fellow students and teachers before ending his own life. In the wake of the massacre, Virginia public officials made all manner of promises about their future efforts to make weapons less available to people with serious criminal or psychiatric records.
Sadly, in January of 2008 those efforts were defeated by the NRA when the Virginia legislature gave in to the gun lobby and refused to regulate weekend gun show sales. Literally, the Virginia Tech shooter could walk in to one of the many Virginia gun shows this month and purchase the same weapons he used to kill more than 30 people. He would be subject to no background check and no waiting period. His lengthy history of dangerous mental illness would not prevent or delay his purchases, and like the Columbine Shooters in Colorado, he could make impulse purchases of the most deadly weapons without any form of oversight or regulation.
How many people must die at the hands of sick-but-well-armed individuals before the NRA's stranglehold on state legislators is addressed? The press reported last week that a would-be bar owner who considered himself abused by local zoning authorities purchased weapons and promised to make "innocent victims bleed" at the Super Bowl because "his dream had been denied." He was apprehended, as a result of his threats communicated to media outlets, near a Super Bowl parking lot before firing a shot. Will it take a similar event, not interrupted by the shooter's anticipatory media barrage, before someone challenges the NRA effectively?
The same day's newspaper contained an account of a contractor who killed five innocent people, including two police officers and several public officials, and wounded 15 others, at a City Commission meeting because his running dispute with the City had been thrown out of Federal Court. How many of these sick tragedies do we have to witness before some action is taken to at least limit the availability of deadly weapons. Sadly, we will probably never know because we will never reach that threshold in our lifetime.