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“Yes, It’s The Guns”: Charleston Is More Proof America Needs To Fix Its Shameful Gun Laws

Hillary Clinton is right. As she told Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston last night in response to his question about taking action after Charleston, “Let’s just cut to the chase. It’s guns.”

Damn right, it’s the guns. In Newtown and Oak Creek and Aurora and Charleston and Columbine. In churches and schools and movie theaters and hospitals and police stations. In homes where one-year-old Braylon Robinson was accidentally shot to death by a 3 year old. In a nation where 300 million guns result in a mass shooting every two weeks.

And in an historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, called Mother Emanuel, where worshipers took a diffident stranger into their midst in Jesus’ name to pray with them. And he killed them for their kindness and the color of their skin.

Other countries have virulent racists and the mentally unbalanced. We’re the only developed country with unfettered access to deadly weapons and an unwillingness to do anything about it nationally. Australia enacted strict gun laws after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. Both gun homicides and gun suicides declined sharply, and they haven’t had a mass shooting since.

After Aurora, Colorado was one of the few states to pass gun safety laws. Colorado State Rep. Rhonda Fields, whose own son, Javad Marshall Fields, was shot to death in 2005, sponsored the background checks bill. Anyone who doubts the racism of gun nuts didn’t see her email or the #copolitics Twitter feed during those votes. The barrage of vileness directed at the Colorado women legislators who sponsored the bills, including explicit threats of sexual and physical violence, are something I’ll never forget or forgive.

Victim families from three different massacres – Columbine, Aurora and Newtown – helped get Colorado’s gun laws passed. Arapahoe County Coroner Mike Doberson, whose office received victims from two of them, concluded simply, “Please pass these bills. I’m tired of taking bullets out of kids.”

Three state legislators lost their seats over Colorado’s attempt at sanity – two by recall, one by resignation. And every year, Colorado Republicans have attempted to overturn the laws.

Jane Dougherty is a bridal alterations consultant in Littleton, Colorado. Her older sister Mary Sherlach was murdered at Sandy Hook, after running at the gunman to protect the children. So for the two springs since, as the days of March and April warm to the weddings of June, Jane has returned to the legislature to fight for the laws she helped pass in Mary’s name. She calls it “guns and brides season.”

As the president has pointed out, it is shameful that federal legislators lack the courage to do the same. How are former Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., feeling about voting against gun reform measures these days? Pryor voted against background checks in a vain hope of saving his seat. The NRA spent $1.3 million in ads against him anyway. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., lost too, but at least one of her parting gifts was voting the right way. Republicans are utterly worthless on the issue.

I’m all for love and peace and tears and atonement, anger and grief in equal measure. I’m also for passing some serious gun control laws and telling members of the NRA what they can go do with themselves. Dear public officials: There’s a side. Pick one. Because it’s the damn guns.

 

By: Laura K. Chapin, U. S. News and Wrold Report, June 19, 2015

June 21, 2015 Posted by | Emanuel AME Church, Gun Violence, Mass Shootings | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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