U.S. needs a national assault weapons ban, now

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

High school students attend the March For Our Lives in Seattle, March 24, 2018 to protest gun violence following the shooting at following the Stoneman Douglas High School. Image credit: Ryan1783/Wikimedia Commons

The massacres in Boulder, Colorado, with 10 killed, and in metro Atlanta, with eight killed, are just two more instances of senseless gun violence enabled by the NRA, gun manufacturers, and the corrupt politicians they control. Here is a short reminder of some others, for any who might need it:

Columbine High School, Colorado, 1999: 15 dead, 24 injured.

Virginia Tech, 2007: 33 dead, 17 injured.

The Aurora theater, Colorado, 2012: 12 dead, 70 injured.

Oak Creek, Wisconsin Sikh temple, 2012: seven dead, four injured.

Sandy Hook Elementary, Connecticut, 2012: 28 dead, two injured.

Charleston, South Carolina, Emmanuel AME church, 2015: nine dead, one injured.

Orlando's Pulse nightclub, Florida, 2016: 50 dead, 53 injured.

Las Vegas, Nevada, 2017: 61 dead, 411 injured.

Parkland, Florida, high school, 2018: 17 dead, 17 injured.

El Paso, Texas Wal-Mart, 2019: 23 dead, 23 injured.

Dayton, Ohio, 2019: ten dead, 27 injured.

These are just some of the notorious massacres, each surrounded in time by countless others, with three, four, five killed, lives lost in acts of violence that lack the bodycount sufficient to join the canon of American mass shootings. This carnage was wrought with powerful semi-automatic firearms, almost all of which were assault weapons. This is why we need a federal assault weapons ban, now.

"Assault rifles, all that does is put the 'mass' into shootings, allowing them to kill more people quicker," Democratic Colorado State Representative Tom Sullivan said on the Democracy Now! news hour, shortly after the Boulder grocery store massacre this week.

Sullivan continued: 

"Here in Colorado, in 2013, we passed the background check bill. We passed limiting high-capacity magazines, making people pay for the background checks, doing things about domestic violence, making people actually show up in front of somebody to get a concealed carry permit…But if you want to drive 20 minutes and go into Wyoming, you can buy whatever it is you what and come back down. That's why it is imperative that we get the federal government to partner with us."

Sullivan's route to gun control and elected office was difficult. His son, Alex, was killed in the Aurora theater massacre, celebrating his 27th birthday. When politicians subsequently ignored Sullivan's pleas for common-sense gun control, he ran for office himself, and won -- in a district that had been held by Republicans for decades.

In the wake of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Florida, and absent national legislation to address recurring mass shootings, the Boulder City Council passed ordinances banning the sale and possession of assault weapons and extended ammunition magazines. Just days before this week's massacre in Boulder, a state judge declared the ordinances illegal, legalizing possession of the very weapon used in the slaughter.

Now the Democratic-controlled Colorado state legislature, with the support of Democratic Governor Jared Polis, himself a longtime Boulder resident who said he had shopped many times at the King Soopers supermarket where the massacre occurred, is considering a statewide assault weapons ban.

Within hours of the Boulder massacre, while the victims' bodies were still on the supermarket floor, Republican Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, whose defence of unlimited gun rights borders on maniacal -- at her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, called Shooters Grill, she encourages her staff to carry guns while working -- sent out a fundraising email, declaring "Hell No" to gun control. The NRA responded to the massacre by tweeting the text of the Second Amendment.

Meanwhile, the federal Ninth District Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that state laws prohibiting "open carry" of firearms are constitutional. Its 215-page order, detailing the history of gun regulation in colonial America and the development of the Second Amendment, should be required reading. "The Second Amendment does not guarantee an unfettered, general right to openly carry arms in public for individual self-defense," the court concluded.

In Washington, D.C., President Joe Biden says he supports a national assault weapons ban, but with the razor-thin Democratic majority in the Senate, passage of gun control would depend on the support of pro-gun Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin as well as a decision by the entire Senate Democratic Caucus, including Manchin and conservative Democratic Arizona Senator Kirsten Sinema, to eliminate or alter the filibuster. Gun control legislation will have to navigate a narrow path to become law.

In the United States, Tom Sullivan concluded, "a hundred people die every day from gun violence. Twenty-two of those are veterans who are dying by suicide. But also, over 200 people are injured by accidental shootings. A lot of those are children." No legislation will bring back his son Alex, nor any of the millions killed by gun violence in the U.S. over the decades. But we can prevent future violence, with a national, enforceable ban on these weapons of war.

Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,300 stations. She is the co-author, with Denis Moynihan, of The Silenced Majority, a New York Times bestseller. This column originally appeared on Democracy Now!

Image credit: Ryan1783/Wikimedia Commons

Related Items

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.