Newtown: Today is not that day
After 9/11 our then President declared that the nation would stand up to those who inflicted the greatest act of foreign terrorism on our soil. (Yes, he was late in doing it; he was bombastic in his assertion; his follow-through was misguided to say the least. But he attempted to propose a solution.) The day of the greatest mass outrage against children since before the Depression, the White House through its publicizer of inaction, Jay Carney, said that “today is not that day” to discuss gun control. Of course we could not have expected the White House to have even the vaguest outline of a plan to deal with the increasing scourge of mass violence in this country. This President’s only policy initiative on gun control in four years has been to make it easier to carry loaded weapons in national parks.
Not that the President is alone in his failure to consider anything that might solve this particular national disgrace. The Democratic Party as a whole has given up even talking about gun control since the failure to renew the assault weapons ban in 2004, a ban which would have covered one of the weapons carried by the murderer at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
And while the White House Press Secretary attempted to deflect inquiries about the inaction of this White House to another day, on that very day the President said: “[W]e’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” But of course it is the failure of this President and his Party to lead rather than cower in fear of the rightwing menace in this country, whose gun arm is funded and enforced by the NRA and similar groups, and that failure is the heart of the problem. Hope is a slogan not a policy initiative. And it’s not even an accurate slogan.
And just to punctuate what a black joke the policy process in our country has become, John Boehner, the leader of the party who will oppose all solutions to everything other than reducing taxes and contraceptives, responded to the President by saying: “I’m not the expert on this. but if the president’s got ideas, I’d be happy to look at it.”
Of course, why should the Speaker of the House have any ideas? After all, it’s not like a member of the House has been shot in the head during a mass shooting. Or that movie theaters or shopping malls have been invaded by armed murderers in any recent time. So there is no reason why the Party of the NRA should have had any occason to have considered it.
I won’t even discuss the response of certain gun industry pandering groups, who suggest that the solution is to eliminate all laws preventing guns in schools or otherwise loosen gun control to return to the idyllic times of the Wild West. They will not rest until guns can be sold in schools and at newstands outside shopping malls and movie theaters.
It is not simply a question of gun control. There is no initiative on mental health issues in this country. But of course today is not the day to discuss those problems either. There will never come such a day. Our political system is not capable of dealing of dealing with either guns or health. We have ceded all political decisions to groups with access to large amounts of capital: the NRA, the large corporation, the investment banks. Only when it is in their interests will anything happen. And, God knows, their interests are not ours.