|If We Can’t Dodge Taxes, We Shouldn’t Have to Dodge Bullets
This weekend most Americans will be feverishly trying to meet the Monday deadline for filing their taxes. As we shell out our hard-earned money to pay for the government, an increasing share of Americans are wondering what the government is doing for us.
We are now 105 days into 2023 and already 131 shootings have taken the lives of 4,200 American children and adults. Forty-four children in Philly who’ve died since January 1st contribute to this obscenity.
Suffice it to say our government – federal, state, and local – is not doing its most fundamental job of keeping us safe as we lead our daily lives.
Ironically, it’s also the weekend that NRA loyalists will kick off its 152nd Annual Meeting in the wake of the mass shootings that took the lives of 12 people, including three children, and traumatized communities across Tennessee and Kentucky.
This year’s gathering professes to rally its supporters to protect American freedom, albeit that’s defined only as protecting the 2nd Amendment. Meanwhile, guns now have eclipsed autos as the leading cause of child deaths in America (since 2020). For these children, ALL of their rights have been permanently extinguished.
Topping the three-day NRA meetup are workshops “Dangers of Gun Free Zones” (AKA schools) and a frightening twist on firearms training, “How Armed Citizens Should Interact with Law Enforcement.” Gun manufacturers understand that their profits are directly tied to their capacity to foment fear among the populous and convincing folks that guns are the only way to protect themselves.
In fact, part of their strategy is working. Eight out of ten adults reported changing their daily routines or taking other precautionary measures to protect themselves and their children from the risk of getting shot, according to a shocking poll released by Kaiser Family Foundation last week.
But a key part of their strategy is backfiring. As Republican leaders align themselves to the “guns keep us safe” mantra, those most affected by gun violence see things differently. For instance:
- After the slaughter of 12 lives in an Aurora movie theater in 2012, Republican voter registration dropped by 7,362, compared to a surge of 53,697 new Democratic voters in the three counties where families affected by the shooting live.
- Since two Columbine high school seniors shot up their school in 1999, killing 12 children and a teacher, Democratic registration in Columbine grew by 81,862 and Republicans lost 53,932 voters.
- New Democratic registration is twice new Republican registration in Parkland, Florida after the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that claimed 17 lives.
Some Republicans see the writing on the wall. Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee just got some partisan courage, proffering meager gun regulations that are bound to make him a heretic among the NRA brass.
Last week, a Republican Common Pleas Court judge in Chester County issued a stern rebuke to a convicted felon who complained his 2nd Amendment rights were violated because Pennsylvania laws bar a felon to possess a firearm. “If the trial court were to look at laws restricting gun ownership in 18th century American history, it would find a plethora of support of gun ownership restrictions. There is irrefutable historical truth that the framers and adopters of the Second Amendment were, on the whole, supporters of regulated liberty.”
American citizens are not buying the argument that personal safety is a personal matter not served by government policy. In fact, more and more Republicans aren’t buying that argument either. The sooner the party leadership gets it, the sooner it saves its place in our democracy and the sooner we stop sacrificing our children in service of the corporate interests of the merchants of death.