Do we accept the massacre culture or make changes?


U.S. Senators take this oath: “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, Congress and President George W. Bush took an array of security steps to defend Americans from foreign terrorists.

The Department of Homeland Security was created, along with the Director of National Intelligence. We experience a number of security elements every time we fly or go into a security sensitive area. These measures have been largely successful, as terror attacks from foreign sources like al-Qaeda are exceptionally rare.

In 2019, Americans are facing a virtual guerrilla war from domestic sources ranging from white supremacists to nihilist and anarchists.

Attacks just this year have claimed 246 dead and 979 wounded, culminating in that weekend earlier this month with massacres in Dayton and El Paso that took out 30 lives and injured dozens of others. The gunman in Dayton killed nine people and injured 27 others with an assault rifle and high-capacity magazine in just 30 seconds before heroic cops took him out.

That’s a total of 1,325 victims, about a third of the 9/11 total. There is now palpable panic. Americans are so insecure that they stampede at the sounding of a motorcycle backfiring on Times Square or a mall sign falling.

How are Indiana congressional “leaders” responding?

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise spoke at a fundraiser for Rep. Jim Banks in Columbia City, saying, “What I would like to see is us to continue to focus on making the existing laws actually work.”

This is fascinating because Scalise was critically wounded in an assault on the GOP congressional baseball team. “In many cases with mass shootings, we’ve seen people falling through the cracks that shouldn’t have been able to legally buy a gun.”

And Banks? The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported him saying, “As Steve says, we need to enforce the laws that we have.”

U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon held a town hall in Terre Haute recently, and the Terre Haute Tribune-Star’s Alex Modesitt reported Bucshon saying, “First of all, you cannot legally buy a firearm from any federally licensed dealer without getting a background check. You can’t buy one from a dealer on the internet or at a gun show without getting one. The only way you can legally purchase a gun without a background check is through a private sale. … And to be clear, none of these shootings would have changed if the background checks were any different.”

Bucshon added, with Modesitt reporting “much to the chagrin of many in attendance,” that “Nothing short of repealing the 2nd Amendment and sending federal agents door to door to collect guns would be enough to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Everybody wants these shootings to stop.”

So, are we left just to throw our hands up in the air and accept this growing risk?

Or, as U.S. Sen. Mike Braun observed, “We’ve got to do some common-sense stuff that prevents this in the future.”

What might constitute “common-sense stuff?”

A Fox News Poll revealed 67 percent support a ban on “assault weapons.”

An NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll showed 75 percent support expanded background checks and a similar number back the “red flag” laws that allow police and courts to remove weapons from unstable people. But red flag laws have more of an impact with suicidal people than preventing mass shootings.

U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks told me earlier this month, “I’d like to think we’re at the tipping point because of the hundreds of mass shootings we’ve had this past year. Young people are demanding it, are demanding we change some of our laws relative to guns. I think there will be some changes.”

Since Dayton and El Paso, more than two dozen people have been arrested nationally for threatening a mass shooting, including a Florida man in Indianapolis. Just this month there have been three students arrested for bringing guns to school in Muncie and Indianapolis.

So this is a persistent threat.

The survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school massacre and their organization, March for Our Lives, proposed “A Peace Plan for a Safer America” this past week. Key components: A national licensing and gun registry; ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; implement a mandatory gun buyback program; create a “national director of gun violence prevention” who would report directly to the president; raise the gun purchase age from 18 to 21; and create a federal “multi-step” gun licensing system that would include in-person interviews and a 10-day wait before gun purchases are approved. The license would be renewed annually.

March for Our Lives has more than 100 chapters and has spent the past year registering new voters.

And that’s what really will have to happen if anything is to change. President Trump and most Republicans in Congress appear to be willing to accept the status quo.

Or voters can make a change and elect people who will confront these atrocities in a different way.

Brian A. Howey of Nashville is publisher of Howey Politics Indiana at Find Howey on Facebook and Twitter @hwypol.

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