The first response of any country to violence of the sort seen in Connecticut must be one of horror.
President Obama showed that sorrow when he wiped his tears, like those so many Americans shed Friday.
But there is nothing more absurd than the suggestion that it is wrong to raise political concerns at a moment such as this.
It is in a moment such as this that responsible nations examine themselves, their cultures, their laws.
Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich is right when he says, “There is an undercurrent of violence in our society that is becoming more powerful.” He is right, as well, when he says, “We must reject violence and take an organized approach to averting violence.”
This is about more than guns. It is about healthcare, particularly mental health care. It is about media.
And it is about the quality of our discourse—what we allow ourselves to discuss, and how we discuss it.
California Congressman George Miller says: “We must come together as a nation to honestly discuss how to prevent people intent on carrying out these savage attacks from so easily obtaining guns and ammunition. The nation is ready for this conversation. More importantly, though, the safety of children and all Americans demands we have it.”
So why don’t we have that discussion?
It is easy to blame the National Rifle Association.
But it’s important to go beyond “easy” and understand that the NRA never walks alone. Reasonable people may have reasonable differences about how, when, where and whether to address the concerns Miller raises with regard to sales of assault weapons and ammunition. But no one should be comfortable with those who seek to silence the discourse and control against public responses to violence.
In this regard, the NRA has a powerful ally at the level of government, where the most meaningful interventions against violence can and frequently must be made.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, the Koch Brothers–guided group that aligns corporations with conservative legislators who will introduce the “model legislation” crafted by those corporations, has been in the forefront not just of averting sensible gun control but of trying to shut down public debate about gun control.
ALEC is known, of course, for its advocacy on behalf of the so-called “stand your ground,” or “shoot first,” or “kill at will” laws that became so much of an issue in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin slaying in Florida.