32 Years and Counting

Yesterday marked the 32nd anniversary of John Lennon's murder in front of the Dakota apartment building in Manhattan, and not much has changed. Congress has failed to enact any gun control legislation since 1994.

The revolver that was used to shoot John Lennon was a .38 caliber five shot Charter Arms Undercover .38 special. He was shot with five hollow point rounds at point blank range. Four rounds hit him in the bank, killing him in a matter of seconds.

Yesterday, too, in a suburb of Pennsylvania, a man accidentally shot and killed his 7-year-old son outside a gun store. As the UPI reports, the 44-year-old father was simply trying to put the handgun in the backseat of his truck. He didn't realize there was one round left in the chamber which discharged hitting his young son in the chest. The child died at the scene. http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2012/12/08/Pa-man-accidentally-shoots-son-7/UPI-31051355024608/ The man was apparently try to sell his handgun to the store, and was refused when taking it back to the truck. He may face charges of negligence.

Unfortunately, this isn't the first high profile case of an accident involving a firearm. The nightmares are too numerous to count.

But, the question is who should be facing charges of negligence? In the aftermath of Columbine, and the horrific random shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, who is responsible and accountable for legislative inertia?

There are those who say that accidents happen, and that if handguns were banned, John Lennon's assassin could have used a knife instead. True, but a knife doesn't discharge accidentally, and it is easier to stop a knife attack than it is to stop a discharging gun.

In the face of a rash of recent work site, and public shootings, one can't help but ask how it is that not a single measure regulating the sale of firearms has passed Congress nor been signed by a President whose hometown, Chicago, became the first to pass a law banning the sale of handguns.

It's ironic, given the consistent apathy of the current chief executive's hometown, that Chicago led the nation in enacting firearms control legislation dating back 40 years. A citizens group that formed in the mid-1970's became the template for Illinois Citizens for Handgun Control in 1982. Remember, too, that Chicago voted to ban assault weapons in 1992, a ban, as you know, that was overturned by the Supreme Court a decade later courtesy of appointments to the bench made by then President George W. Bush.

In 1994, under Bill Clinton, the federal ban on assault weapons was passed, only to be overturned, in 2004, by the Bush administration. The Bush administration's gift of federal paralysis on the issue of gun regulation has continued into the Obama years.

Remember, too, on a federal level, and in response to the attempted assassination of another former president, Ronald Reagan, the 1981 Brady Act was enacted requiring background checks before a firearm can be purchased from a federally licensed dealer, or manufacturer. Apart from the many loopholes, and ways to circumvent the background check, is the obvious fact that anyone can purchase a gun on the Internet, or from a private party without being subject to a background check of any kind.

Notably, efforts to require background checks on private dealers have stalled in Congress, so it is then that, for the past few decades, Congress has been an enabler of the gun lobby.

How is it logical that a country that proscribes the transfer of a prescription from one private party to another can't prohibit the transfer of a firearm from one private party to another?

No one is trying to take away your guns, people. It's only common sense that if one has to pass muster to purchase a firearm from a retailer that the same should apply online, but indeed the World Wide Web has now become the wild west of gun sales. Federal law has not made one move to intervene, and regulate the sale of firearms at gun shows, on the Internet, or at people's homes without the essential safeguards put in place by the Brady Act. If anything, Congress has moved in the direction of deregulating interstate gun sales.

Take a look at the fellow who shot and killed a dozen people at that movie theater in Colorado, or the one who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others in Arizona. Do you think they'd pass a background check? As Oscar Wilde once said, "Only the superficial don't judge by appearances."

Now that Mr. Obama has been reelected, and seeing how no president can serve three terms, he must be prevailed upon to revisit some of the legislation that passed in his hometown, Chicago, as well as to remember that heartbreaking cold winter day in December that the world lost not just a rock musician, but a visionary, as well as all the others whose lives have been cut short quickly, and efficiently because of the ready availability of firearms.

It has been nearly 20 years since any action has been taken by Congress, or a president, to regulate the sale of firearms. Apart from the obvious, and obligatory reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons, there needs to be serious steps taken to regulate gun sales on the Internet.

After the nightmare at the midnight screening in Aurora, President Obama appeared before the public and said it's time for a national conversation on gun violence. We're waiting, Mr. President.

Come on, Mr. President, you've got nothing to lose now. Stand up to the gun lobby. Stand up to the war cartel. Stand up to Wall Street. These are one and the same fellows and, at the end of the day, they're better off sleeping alone.