The politically charged American conversation about gun violence continued yesterday with the first Congressional hearing related to the matter since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. The conversation was complete with the same tired pleas to emotion and talking points that have been parroted from both sides of the debate, but the anti-gun lobby pulled all the stops.
The image from the hearing that will undoubtedly be etched into the American psyche as it is played over and over by mainstream media will be that of the speech given before lawmakers by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the survivor of a mass shooting carried out in 2011 by a maniacal gunman in Arizona.
“This is an important conversation, for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans,” she said with exertion stemming from brain injuries caused by her attack. “Speaking is difficult but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.”
Lies And Half Truths
Another anti-gun highlight of the day involved remarks by infamously anti-gun Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) who flipped through what appeared to be a gun catalog making such absurd (or woefully ill-informed) claims as retail AR-15s are easily modified to fire up to 800 rounds per minute and two, three or four rounds at a time. She also lamented that these firearms are capable of “tremendous velocity and tremendous killing power,” which “I suspect tears young bodies apart.”
Following the hearings, a number of heavily slanted news reports hit the Internet.
One such example was this vilification of National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre from CNN:
Wayne LaPierre is not a large man. He does not move with the easy assurance of a skilled fighter. His head sits low on his neck, and he seems to turn from the shoulders.
His swept-back, graying hair and rimless glasses make him look like a Central Casting accountant who sleeps with a tie on. Yet, in Washington, LaPierre is a heavyweight of the first degree, a brawler who can make even brave politicians toss in the towel at the first sign of a scuffle.
As the debate about guns continues, there are still several factors related to past mass killings that are not receiving media attention or due diligence from lawmakers. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) pointed out the foolishness of a Senate hearing completely focused on categorically banning guns and magazines or implementing new license requirements without addressing issues of enforcement and mental health.
“I have a hard time telling my constituents in Texas that Congress is looking at passing a whole raft of new laws, when the laws that we currently have on the books are so woefully unenforced,” he said, criticizing the Justice Department.
The Senator went on to suggest that legislation incorporating mental health screenings with already existing gun laws could help Congress come to an agreement that offers comprise to individuals on both sides of the debate.
“Perhaps it’s time to consider our background checks laws to see if they need to be updated to screen out the growing number of people who are subjected to court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment,” he said. “…There are areas where Congress can come together right now, examine the nexus between gun crime, violence, and mental health care. I’m willing to listen to serious ideas, not just window dressing, to try to come up with solutions.”
As an aside, a recent Reason/Rupe poll demonstrated that 52 percent of Americans believe that politicians are joining the likes of Piers Morgan — who recently said he was “standing on the graves of dead Sandy Hook children” — in exploiting tragedy for political gain. Also, 51 percent of respondents to the same poll rejected the notion that American citizens should be barred from owning so-called assault weapons.