Editor’s Note: Michael A. Nutter is a CNN contributor, a Columbia University/SIPA professor of professional practice in urban and public policy and the former mayor of Philadelphia. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Michael Nutter: The NRA and GOP want you to think their support of bump-stock regulation makes them rational Second Amendment protectors
Nutter: We need real gun safety reform, not political distraction. How many have to die before this happens?
The National Rifle Association thinks you’re stupid.
Realizing the outrage of the American public that someone could take a cheap device known as a “bump stock” and convert a killing machine, an AR-15 rifle, into a weapon of mass destruction on the streets of Las Vegas or Anytown, USA, they’ve decided to throw us all a big bone. Drum roll please … the NRA has announced and told their supporters in Congress that it is OK to support “some regulation” of bump stocks!
It is an amazing display of disingenuous and cynical political sleight of hand that, in a week in which America has seen death and maiming delivered rapid-fire in the most deadly mass shooting of Americans in modern history, the NRA grudgingly agrees that some regulation of these devices is OK.
And, you should best believe and know that they will be at the negotiating table with Congress trying to make those regulations as lenient as possible, because that’s what they do! Let us not be fooled that this is a breakthrough or a change in behavior on the part of the NRA or its water-carrier, the Republican Party.
This is a political pivot designed solely to make you believe that they are rational champions of the 2nd Amendment, even as they simultaneously block every reasonable effort to make Americans any safer from gun violence.
Worst mass shootings in the United States
We need real gun safety reform, not political distraction.
How many more people have to die? How many more of America’s children, moms, dads, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and friends – yours and mine – have to be shot and killed at school, at the movies, a club, a church or an outdoor festival?
Elected leaders in Congress and state legislatures across the country: which family member of yours are you willing to sacrifice on the altar of guns, before you take action to protect all of us from the violence they inevitably produce.
What is the magic number of mortality we must reach in the cities and towns and streets before you will do your duty for all Americans who wish to partake in “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” those things our founding fathers risked their lives to provide for us? How much longer will you sell their souls and continue to suck up to the threats of the National Rifle Association?
The fact is, even as much as we revere and protect the First Amendment, we know that there are reasonable restrictions on this incredible right. We all accept that you can’t shout “fire” in a crowded movie theater or other place. We must be able to agree that there are some reasonable restrictions on guns that comport with our safety and the definition of the Second Amendment.
You have the right to bear arms, but you don’t have that right in the state capital, the buildings of Congress, an airplane and many other places, all reasonable because we all want to be safe.
We accept personal restrictions in our daily lives: you basically can’t buy two packs of a powerful prescription decongestant in one week; if you withdraw more than $10k in cash of your own money from a bank, you have to fill out a form and explain why; if you make multiple purchases with your credit card out of town and don’t tell your bank, they may put a hold on your card. If you drive without a seat belt, you can get a ticket and a fine.
But, when someone buys and slowly accumulates 47 guns and rifles (12 with bump stocks), scopes, explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition, no red flags go up. No questions asked. No preemptive investigation is conducted. And a man sits in a window on the 32nd floor of a hotel, 400 yards away from a concert – a domestic sniper with military type weapons – and shoots down in cold blood nearly 60 people in nine to 11 minutes. Hundreds more were injured.
The death and destruction from Las Vegas sounds like a military report from the war in Afghanistan. The response from many elected officials? “Thoughts and prayers” … again.
Tell me: What is the argument for anyone having more firepower than the SWAT team members who came to make him stop shooting?
If you are one of the many elected officials in America who can only offer words and not meaningful action, shame on you.
Spare us your hypocrisy – don’t attend any funerals or services for the deceased if you are not prepared to rebuke your master, the NRA.
Sandy Hook, Pulse Nightclub, the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the AME church in Charleston, a country music concert in Las Vegas, and so many others. All of that blood and death is on the collective hands of a do-nothing, majority-Republican Congress and President.
Let’s do this instead: Make America Safe Again
Nearly 330 million Americans are waiting to hear your answer.