The other day I tried to imagine the sound of semi-automatic assault rifle fire exploding in a elementary school. And I decided that if I was haunted by the eruptions in my mind you, too, should be haunted. During yesterday’s show, I planned to play the sound of semi-automatic assault rifle fire each time I returned from a commercial break. I usually play music, mostly oldies and 60s rock, but I decided that the stark reality of the Connecticut carnage that slaughtered 20 six-and -seven-year-olds needed to be accentuated in our short attention span world.
Then I realized that sound effects would be useless. They would be a sad gimmick. Instead I played the peaceful bamboo flute music of a Japanese shakuhachi. I did not want to be accused of dramatizing a drama that needs no amplification.
I also knew I would be accused of other excesses. So I prepared for that conflict.
I made it clear yesterday that I firmly advocate a new ban on assault rifles, even more stringent than the 1992 ban that outlawed 18 types of weapons of war. I made it clear that more precautions were necessary to prevent bloodshed in our nation of law. I made it clear that I would pressure elected and appointed government officials to regulate and restrict mostly semi-automatic weapons because I respect life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
To do so will strengthen the Second Amendment, I told the WILK News Radio listening audience. A “regulated militia” means exactly that. We must regulate firearms so we don’t one day have more guns than people in a good country where the bullet-ridden bodies of children dead in classrooms defile the most innocent concept of democracy.
The assault weapons ban expired in 2004 without presidential support and our elected leaders in Congress showing sufficient courage to renew the safeguard. Now we must enter deep into the dark political agendas. Now we must hold our public servants accountable because they have failed to protect our children.
President Barack Obama agrees. At least he said he agrees during a speech at the high school in the little town that will forever be known as sad and sacred place made unique by madness and gunfire.
Madness is bad enough and deserves all the attention our nation can provide to help, not hurt, those who are mentally ill. Add gunfire and the madness gets worse, becomes fiendish and defines us. We must take great care not to target the mentally ill. We must try to heal them. We must not level both barrels of gullibility at them, denounce the sick as the enemy and fight to lock them away in antiquated warehouses of the spirit the way we didn’t know what else to do.
Will Obama take action and lead the charge to disarm? Or will he posture briefly and then turn away from any meaningful gun reform the way he has in the first four years of his presidency? When he first ran for the presidency, Obama promised to save the lives of innocent people who have since been gunned down. Will Obama keep his new promise after breaking his old promise? Or will he turn away as he has, refusing to lead against formidable foes who do the bidding of the powerful gun lobby, gunmen and gunwomen who want him to fail anyway?
We in Northeastern Pennsylvania must do our part to help try to stop the madness. We must personally approach each and every elected official in our communities - federal, state and local – and ask them exactly what they plan to do to better regulate guns in America.
Do not ask them how they feel. Do not listen to their pious plea for prayer. Do not listen to their consolation to the families of the dead. Do not allow them to dance away from the focus of the matter.
Ask, “What exactly do you plan to do to better regulate guns in America?”
Equally as important is the question of what exactly they do not plan to do.
Our elected public servants must be held accountable.
Leading the list is U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, Gov. Tom Corbett, state Sen. John Blake. State Sen. John Yudichak., State Sen. Lisa Baker. All out state representatives, including the new trio from Lackawanna County, who can make a name for themselves right out of the gate by standing up where others have failed.
I care not at all for their political parties. I care for their willingness or unwillingness to lead.
Last night on the TV news I read and listened to brief written statements from Casey, Toomey and Barletta. All three political powerbrokers dodged the specific question of how to reasonably regulate our domestic weapons of war, including a war on children.
If 20 dead first-graders doesn’t get their attention and provide the focus to fight for American decency, I don’t know what will. I do know this, however: As long as our public policy makers continue to avoid safeguarding the people, more of those people and their children will die.
Unless America’s leaders lead, we might as well start digging more little graves.