Warning: There is little hope that this editorial will have any practical effect in terms of more effective gun control legislation in Washington. But after our country witnessed another tragic mass shooting this week — perhaps the worst in U.S. history — we feel an obligation to speak out against the immorality of congressional inaction.
The list of mass shootings in recent years is numbingly long, and the overall effect is to blunt our emotions as we become used to the cycle of acceptance: initial shock and horror giving way to calls from the left for congressional action to make it more difficult for individuals to purchase increasingly deadly assault weapons, and a response from the right insisting on a citizen’s right to bear arms and the suggestion that killers could be prevented or stopped in the act if more people were armed and able to respond. And so it goes.
A number of Jewish organizations have issued strong statements not only condemning the mayhem, but advocating for gun control legislation. The dramatic New York Times editorial on Tuesday consisted of a series of graphs of past mass murders and the headline: “477 Days. 521 Mass Shootings. Zero Action From Congress.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial on Tuesday made the point that despite the horrors of the Las Vegas shooting, it is “worth remembering” the many acts of “selfless courage” promulgated to protect potential victims and save lives. True enough, but no call for gun legislation to help limit the need for these acts of heroism.
In the most recent case, the shooter is reported to have had 23 firearms at his disposal, including automatic weapons, 16 rifles, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. All legal.
Why? In large part because the National Rifle Association has become increasingly aggressive and Republican representatives have become increasingly unwilling to buck the NRA for fear of appearing soft on the Second Amendment. So Congress can’t even pass legislation that would prevent selling arms to people on the terrorist watch list, former felons, or those with serious mental illness. And a bill is pending that would ease restrictions on silencers. (One can only imagine the additional bloodshed if the Las Vegas shooter’s location had not been identified quickly based on the sound of his firing.)
The situation may only change for the better when enough mass shootings impact directly on the family or friends of gun advocates. How sad.