As the tears and promises for action from some politicians flow following events in Connecticut, some of the nation's most powerful men and women have gone strangely silent when it comes to discussing their long-held positions on gun violence and gun control.
As Glenn Greenwald tweeted:
How's that saying go? If you're afraid of *David Gregory*, how will you stand up to Terrorists, tyrants & criminals? is.gd/AMxjN4
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 16, 2012
Though perhaps it should have said, "If you're afraid of David Gregory, how are you gonna stand up to the NRA's lobbying machine?"
And perhaps, more sorrowfully if not hopefully, it should have read, "If you're afraid of Meet the Press, how are you going to face a nation, in the wake of a kindergarten massacre that left 20 children dead, that is now clamoring for real political action on gun violence?"
All this, of course, eminates from this tweet that Betsy Fischer Martin, executive producer of Meet the Press, put out early Sunday morning:
BTW, we reached out to ALL 31 pro-gun rights Sens in the new Congress to invite them to share their views on @meetthepress - NO takers.
— Betsy Fischer Martin (@BetsyMTP) December 16, 2012
Say what you like about Meet the Press, the reality that underlies pro-gun lawmakers' decision to go media silent in the wake of Friday's massacre in Newtown, Connecticut is that now—for all the horror realized and introspection caused by the terrible events at the Sandy Hook Elementary School—their absence (or is it shame in hiding?) may well offer the best chance for legislative progress on gun violence in a generation.
As Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) subsequently proved by actually appearing on the program: when those opposed to sensible gun regulations go silent, there exists a potent opportunity to accomplish sensible things.
“I’m going to introduce in the Senate—and the same bill will be introduced in the House—a bill to ban assault weapons," Feinstein told the Meet the Press audience.
Describing details of what the bill would entail, Feinstein said: "It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession [of assault weapons]. Not retroactively but prospectively. And it will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets. So there will be a bill.”
The purpose of it, she said would be to get "weapons of war off the streets."
Feinstein remarked that President Obama, she thought, would support such a bill:
The efforts of Democrats—long complicit in the Washington consensus that the National Rifle Association would be allowed to control gun policy in the nation's halls of power—of course, will not succeed without public pressure, forcing them into action.
In the House of Representatives, where the Democrats have shown more willingness to tackle the issue than in the Senate, the fight may well be led by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), whose husband was killed during a mass shooting that took place on a Long Island commuter train in 1993.
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As Politico reported, McCarthy said on Friday that “the gloves are off” if President Obama fails to act on the issue.
On Sunday, McCarthy put out a statement, which read in part:
We owe it to those families, and to our own children, to do something about our nation's problem with gun violence.
The Second Amendment is the law of the land - it's an American right to own a gun.
But it's also our responsibility to protect public health and enact reasonable safety restrictions, like we do with cars or food or medicine, because too many of us are dying from gun violence every day.
No parent should have to send their child to school and wonder if there will be a mass shooting there that day.
Let's come together and get this right, for our children's sake.
One hopeful sign for public pressure—in addition to the national outpouring of emotion over the youthful dead at Sandy Hook—is a White House petition (one among several, in fact) calling for Obama's leadership on the issue, that in less than twenty-four hours had received nearly 100,000 signatures.
What many are left wondering is whether the words of sorrow and the show of tears by lawmakers, will translate into meaningful action in Washington.
Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association—though it did take the moment to cancel a country music publicity event over the weekend—has yet to release any statement at all over the death of the twenty children and seven adults murdered by a young man, armed with semi-automatic legally purchased guns, on Friday.
Of course, there are always exceptions to stated trends. In the case of Rep. Louis Gomert (R-TX), the rightwing lawmaker's argument that the only thing that can "prevent" gun massacres is "more guns" is as familar as it is ridiculous. As Think Progress highlights:
Appearing on a special Fox News Sunday dedicated to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said that an armed teacher or principal could have taken the killer’s “head off before he can kill those precious kids”:
GOHMERT: Having been a judge and reviewed photographs of these horrific scenes and knowing that children have these defensive wounds, gun shots through their arms and hands as they try to protect themselves, and, hearing the heroic stories of the principal, lunging, trying to protect, Chris, I wish to God she had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids. [...]
Pressed by host Chris Wallace on why ordinary citizens need semi automatic weapons that shoot 5 bullets per second, Gohmert said that any restrictions on fire arms could lead to the slippery slope of full prohibition and said that American amass weapons to protect themselves from the government.