A published Op-Ed from this author positions gun violence in America as an infraction of human rights and a failure of one of our government’s most fundamental duties – to protect the life of its citizens.
In unapologetic fashion, this paper makes the case that the time has come for activist groups to abandon business-as-usual tactics and go on the offensive to change the political landscape in Washington, D.C.
A letter was sent to US Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) regarding The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. That legislation has little to do with defending or protecting the rights of law abiding citizens. It is about the union of an appalling political strategy, that for decades has successfully exploited racial conflict for votes, and corporate profits. An agenda that will, perhaps sooner than later, exact a price at the polls.
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.
Like any successful merger, synergy exists between the gun violence prevention and human rights movements. Together they are stronger than they are apart and have practical application in shaping Congress to the ultimate benefit of both.
This article explores the interrelationships between gun violence, race and politics in America versus human rights obligations our country assumed following its ratification of the International Convention to End all forms of Racial Discrimination. Our country’s progress under that treaty will be reviewed by the UN’s CERD in August of this year in Geneva, Switzerland. In what was called an act of public shaming by media, in March of this year the UN committee overseeing our country’s obligations under another treaty we have ratified (the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights) cited numerous human rights abuses by our country – included was rampant gun violence and the proliferation of stand-your-ground laws. An important question becomes why our government is not aggressively intervening to put a halt to the grossly disproportionate loss of life and injury to gun violence in a segment of its own citizenry.
A total of four independent, premeditated and indiscriminate mass shootings occurred in the latter half of 2012. There was no connection between the shooters and the victims, and no reason was established in the selection of victims other than inflicting mass casualties. An AR-15 rifle was the weapon used in all four of these events. The odds of this particular weapon being selected for all four of these independent events simply by chance was estimated to be less than one in a million using two different approaches. The intentional selection of this firearm is additionally supported by the behavior of all four shooters. It is felt that this finding fundamentally changes the assault weapon debate. It is not that this weapon was simply being used at these events, there is little if any doubt that it was being intentionally selected as a weapon of choice in those premeditated indiscriminate mass killings. As this weapon is being actively sought for these events, leaving it unregulated and expanding public availability could only increase the opportunity for its use in future mass shootings of the nature we witnessed in 2012.
With 11 of the 18 Senate Judiciary Committee members benefitting from gun lobby financial contributions, the impartiality of both their opinion and eventual votes is drawn into question. The Newtown incident has laid bare, as no other has in the past, the inherent conflict lawmakers face regarding their obligation to legislate in the public’s best interest versus special interest pressures that threaten their ability to retain office. This current debate has morphed into something larger than regulating the gun market. It provides clear evidence that our Congress needs to fundamentally change the way it operates.
Had a corporation in an industry federally regulated for safety been aware of a high level of product-related death and injury in children, obstructed attempts to look into the matter, obstructed dissemination of information about the matter, impeded the work of local, state and federal law enforcement, while continuing to increase public exposure to more powerful versions of the product that claimed multiple other young lives, those involved would have faced criminal prosecution. Yet our own lawmakers are so engaged while keeping firearms unregulated for safety and pocketing backdoor money from the gun industry through the NRA. The double standard is staggering. The behavior is reprehensible if not scandalous. Our free press should step forward, as only it can, to explore this issue.
Despite Information being available for at least 15 years showing that US children experience a grossly disproportionate loss of life from gunfire as compared to other wealthy industrialized countries, Congress has acted to obstruct both the generation and dissemination of such information while allowing increasingly more powerful weaponry onto the market. This while accepting NRA financial contributions derived, in part, from the very industry that financially benefits from its actions. It is argued that Congress, by its lack of intervention and obstructionist behavior, is complicit in contributing to the high level of gun-related death in America’s children. The Second Amendment was never intended to justify such a disparate loss of young life.
To understand what happened in Charleston it becomes necessary to confront the horrific and enduring history of racial terrorism in this country, terrorism that continues to this day as part of a dangerous global movement uniting white supremacists across the US, Europe and Australia.
The mass shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, SC provides yet another stark example of the death that can result from the racial divide that plagues our country and that the issue of gun violence in America is not a one size fits all matter.
An examination of Supreme Court decisions in both Heller and McDonald reveal that North Carolina lawmakers are looking to undo several prohibitions held to be presumptively lawful under the Second Amendment.
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.