We are living in an increasingly frightening world. We know that even a single terrorist prepared to die can create massive carnage on American soil. It seems certain that more attacks are inevitable in our open society. As a by-product of recent events, for the first time we are able to witness the inescapable truth that the NRA puts profits far ahead of t public safety. Until now, they have been able to fuel the limitless sale of military style weapons by generating apocalyptic fear of government tyranny and anarchy in the streets while cloaking themselves in a perverse interpretation of the Second Amendment. Their argument--"only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun"--crumbles when the bad guy is a terrorist whose purchase of an arsenal is expedited by NRA-financed puppet politicians who have now been fully exposed to the glare of public scrutiny.
The day after the December 2nd San Bernardino terrorist attack, in which an ISIS-inspired husband and wife killed 14 people and wounded 21, senate Democrats led by Diane Feinstein put forth an amendment seeking to ban all those on the no-fly list (actually the bill specified the larger category of Terrorist Watch List) from being able to purchase a gun. Those on the no-fly list are prevented from getting on planes in the US because they are terrorist suspects. Shouldn't they also be prevented from buying a gun?
Apparently not, as the bill was defeated by a Senate vote of 54-45, with 53 Republicans and one Democrat voting no, and 44 Democrats and one Republican supporting the bill, far short of the 60 votes needed for passage. Grasping at straws to explain the unconscionable votes of 53 Republican senators, Texas Senator John Cornyn pontificated that it was important to protect the Second Amendment rights of those who might be mistakenly on the list, transparently ignoring that the overwhelming majority on the list are suspects who would also have their Second Amendment rights protected.
We can be certain that a terrorist would easily be able to obtain weapons illegally, so why bother putting forth such doomed legislation? Moreover, the ACLU is litigating the constitutionality of the no-fly list itself. But given that it currently exists, why would we not ratify a measure that would symbolically send the right message and make it a bit more difficult for terrorist bad guys only?
There is a one word answer: profits. Huge profits. Consider the following small sampling of statistics:
• The top four gun manufacturers have made $632 million in profits since the December, 2012 Sandy Hook massacre of 20 six and seven year-old children and six school staff members.
• The Freedom Group, which manufactures the assault rifle used in the Sandy Hook slaughter, saw profits jump from $5.9 million to $57.7 in 2013
• Smith and Wesson's profits jumped from $16 million to $79 million in 2013
• Smith and Wesson's profits tripled year-over-year from July through Sept, 2015. In an overall flat stock market, their stock was recently up 130%.
• There are well over 300 million guns in the US, nearly one per person.
• After each spree shooting in movie theaters, schools, etc., gun sales skyrocket driven by fear of government bans and the desire for self-protection. Gun CEO's readily admit that shooting sprees are fantastic for business.
• On Black Friday following the Paris attacks, gun sale background checks surged to a new record of 185,345, each for the purchase of one or more guns. This was before San Bernardino and does not include gun shows or online purchases.
Many people who now fear imminent terrorism have been considering buying a gun when they would never have done so prior to Paris and San Bernardino. Cathy Lanier, the very well-regarded police chief of Washington, DC has suggested that when there is an active shooter, people should now consider "taking him out if they have the opportunity to do so" (though not necessarily with a gun), a direct contradiction to previous policy. San Bernardino has changed the way we think and feel. Untrained beat cops are now being directed to enter the scene of an active shooting rather than wait for the SWAT team to arrive. Terrorists and lunatics take hostages, not for bargaining, but to kill as many as possible before they are stopped.
We have just passed the three year anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre. In that time in the US, there have been approximately 90,000 gunfire deaths--30,000 homicides and a startling 60,000 suicides. There have been dozens of so-called spree shootings in schools, movie theaters, etc. Mass murders, defined as at least four victims killed, have occurred at least once every single week. Mass shootings, a new category defined as four victims killed or wounded, are happening, on average, daily.
With over $37 million in NRA campaign contributions in 2014 alone, 53 Republican senators understand that if they if they do not adhere to their dictates ("We're scoring this one"), the hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions will be removed and transferred over to a primary opponent. Primaries challenging an incumbent are otherwise extremely rare.
The amendment proposed by senate Democrats for banning those on the no-fly list had a predictable outcome. It was essentially a strategy to expose 53 Republicans as puppets of the NRA, who are unwilling to limit the sale of one single bullet even to terror suspects who are already not allowed to fly. Following each act of terrorism in the US, we can expect that the senate Democrats will reprise the ban legislation. It is critical that the voting public stay vigilant to see which of 53 Republican senators actually stand up to the NRA, at great risk to their careers, and reverse their despicable voting stance.