Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rethinking Gun Safety & "Freedom"

While we were busy enjoying a lazy, rainy Saturday, this happened in Washington. Yep, that's right. People showed up for a rally for gun safety.

About 1,000 people showed up in the nation's capital, and there were even more "satellite events" across the country. One of the groups that organized yesterday's event was One Million Moms for Gun Control. They've grown from one simple Facebook page to a nationwide movement.

And yes, they're now here in Southern Nevada as well. Yes, even here we're seeing growing support for gun safety reform.

Nationally, there's broad national support for what's essentially President Obama's gun safety plan. Yes, that even includes the Assault Weapon Ban. Yet even after so many polls have been showing so much support for gun safety reform, we're still supposed to believe it's "impossible". Why?

That's what Rachel Maddow asked on Thursday. Both of the US Senators who represent Newtown, Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) & Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), responded with hope for meaningful action.

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Yet even while most Americans demand comprehensive gun safety reform, the conversation in Washington has mostly revolved around how "impossible" this is. Why?

Even worse has been the conversation in Carson City. While Nevada legislators may be justifiably upset over the media circus that the Steven Brooks affair has become, they can't use that as an excuse for ignoring the real public policy questions behind it. Coolican wondered this morning if the Brooks affair will finally force the Nevada Legislature to better fund mental health care. I'm wondering the same, but I'm also wondering if this will force the Legislature to ask why it's easier in this state to access firearms than mental health care.

On one hand, I get it. I see the "reality" in Carson City and DC where politicians fear the wrath of the gun lobby. Harry Reid doesn't want to jeopardize the reelection of vulnerable US Senate Democrats in 2014, and he doesn't want to hurt his own likely reelection campaign in 2016. Meanwhile, a bunch of freshmen in the Nevada Legislature want to curry good favor with the NRA. Some Democrats don't want to be seen as "anti-gun", and most Republicans don't want to be seen as "betraying their base".

Yet while these politicians live their "reality", we live ours. Children are terrorized in their own schools. Shopping malls become armed battlefields. Inner cities have already felt like war zones for some time. Not even houses of worship seem safe.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again today. This level of armed violence is not conducive to a functioning democracy. Keep that in mind when gun lobbyists cry about "Obama's attacks on FREEDOM!!!" Are we really free when we don't feel free to share ideas at the college campus, buy a gift for the best friend's birthday party, send the kids to school, and/or even visit the Legislature? Think about it.

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