With two separate human rights committees declaring this year that rampant gun violence in the United States constitutes a violation of our government’s duty to protect life, gun violence finds itself as being but one member in a family of related disorders in our country. It is beyond coincidence that all disproportionately affect the same victims and that all are fostered by the same hateful and discriminatory ideology held on the political right. Although other members of this family claim far more lives than does gun violence, it is the dramatic and highly publicized nature of major gun violence events that raises public outrage as well as tens of millions of dollars in funding. Our country now has the demography to weaponize human rights in our political process. And gun violence prevention, with its resources and political connections, can accomplish much more than just its own cause, and far more quickly, by simply changing its focus.
Is the gun violence prevention movement really taking head-on an issue that is held by as little as 2% of the American public as being the most important factor in voting for Congress? Both Democratic candidates and gun violence prevention advocates ignored the market while failing to energize important segments of their customer base this past election. Until the gun violence prevention movement re-positions its product into one that better resonates with what is driving voters during elections, the issue will continue to be a largely inconsequential one in shaping Congress. But the movement also needs the help of Democratic candidates to light the fires.
Today’s gun violence prevention movement has developed the organizational structures, political connections and deep financial pockets to impact both Congress and public opinion. The use those resources to inject human rights into our political dialog, along with the voices of Congressional allies, becomes a moral imperative for our leaders.
The GOP’s decision to reinstate tax cut policy in 2001 exposed their hand. It was not about deficit reduction, growing the economy, or job creation. It was about ideology and, no doubt, special interests. It was a backdoor approach where government revenue was cut in an attempt to curtail spending on popular programs they otherwise could not take head-on. This while obstructing the work of Congress, spinning a web of deceit about the benefits of their policy, and weakening our country’s financial standing. It’s time to play hardball during ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations and force them to be specific about what spending cuts they are talking about to offset the tax benefits they wish to preserve for the wealthiest. They wouldn’t have the nerve.