They're still calling the shots

After the latest gun-related bloodbath in America, the veteran television reporter, Tom Brokaw, had this to say during a panel discussion:

"We are where we are because of the power of people who wanted these kinds of guns, and the NRA managed to organize them and get them as a political force in America. So the question is, if you're not happy with what has happened, your individual obligation as a citizen is to organize on the other side. And that's possible as well. The NRA has a lot of money, obviously, and if you're running against the NRA, you're portrayed as a traitor against America. We're a long way away from that second amendment in which we said that a well regulated militia is important to our country."

A long, long way, indeed, from concerns about Indians in the woods to mass murder at a country music festival. And if doing the same thing over and over in the aftermath, with the expectation that something will significantly change, is one definition of insanity, then we are a country in the grips of a serious mental illness.

It is difficult to know what to write that hasn't already been written or said after 58 people were killed and over 500 injured in Las Vegas on Oct. 1.

And it isn't as if there aren't a lot of other topics. I suppose the revelation that a sleazy-looking movie producer has used his exalted position in the industry to sexually harass women for years counts as big - if not particularly surprising -- news, especially if Harvey Weinstein usurps Donald Trump's status as the nation's most high-profile serial lecher.

And then there is the astute character analysis of his boss offered by Secretary of State Rex Tillerston. I can't remember the last time a member of the cabinet referred to a sitting president as a "moron." (There was an adjective preceding that word that won't be repeated in a family newspaper.)

Two of the president's children are the subjects of a potentially explosive story, too. It seems that Ivanka and her brother Donald, Jr., being chips off the old block, were both very close to an indictment for fraud over their deliberate misrepresentation to potential buyers of the sales in a failing Manhattan hotel/condo development. Prosecutors in the District Attorney's office were prepared to file charges until a donation of $25,000 from Trump, Sr.'s personal lawyer to D.A. Cyrus Vance, Jr.'s reelection campaign made the whole thing just disappear like Jimmy Hoffa.

There are always going to be other topics, but mass murders are particularly hard to eclipse. Especially when they happen over and over again.

Some may have concluded that any real gun reform in a country so fixated on Rambo-style weaponry was a pipe dream after 20 kids, all between the ages of 6 and 7, along with 6 adults were murdered in Newton, Conn. by a 20-year-old lunatic with an automatic rifle.

What is the point of reiterating the same arguments that are invariably made after every mass killing in the nation? That is a conclusion that I'm sure the NRA particularly appreciates.

One of the points that is worth bringing up after the Las Vegas atrocity is the fact that immediately before it happened, Republicans in Congress were just inches away from passing legislation that would make silencers more easily available. The noise of the gun firing, said big proponent Liz Cheney, has a detrimental effect on the shooter's hearing. Maybe someone should have suggested the same defense many people used while her father was in office — earplugs.

Try and imagine the body count that would have resulted in Las Vegas if the thousands of people gathered below the killer's room on the 32nd floor of a hotel had not been aware that they were being fired upon because they couldn't hear the shots!

Tom Brokaw's statement is absolutely correct when he says that to counter the vastly disproportionate influence of the National Rifle Association on our legislators, people opposed to the carnage have got to stop being cowed by the illusion of this organization's impregnability. Vermonters should be concerned that Sen. Patrick Leahy accepts contributions from them. Even understanding that the senator is aware of the importance of guns to many people in his home state, responsible gun ownership and the Dodge City policies advanced by the NRA are not synonymous anymore.

As Bill Maher so succinctly put it, what Republican enablers are really saying when they offer their "thoughts and prayers" to victims and to the families of the dead is really their version of "tough s—t." It is estimated that 70 percent of the people in the United States favor tighter gun controls. How many of them silently wish, every time something like Las Vegas, or Columbine, or the Pulse Nightclub, or the Aurora theater shooting happens, that the death toll will be high enough to finally shame Congress into action? How many more have to die before we get that wish?

Alden Graves is a regular Banner columnist.


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