On Saturday night at Bryant Park Ice Skating Rink, a 20-year-old man and 14-year-old boy were both shot while skating. The young boy will never walk or skate again. Since the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., close to 29,975 people have died from guns in the United States. To put that in perspective, if you filled Madison Square Garden to capacity, you would still have 9,000 people left without a seat. With mass killings becoming a regular occurrence in America, the news of a single shooting barely even makes local headlines. America has become desensitized to the news of gun homicides, falsely taking it as the sad status quo.
Even after the carnage of the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard shooting, less than a mile away from the Capitol Building, the political impetus for gun control legislation has all but extinguished. The National Rifle Association has effectively stymied any chance of passing a gun control reform bill. Naturally, when the Navy Yard shooting occurred, the head of the NRA, Wayne La Pierre declared “there weren’t enough good guys with guns” to stop the perpetrator. La Pierre is entitled to his opinion, but he can’t preach his own facts. There is indisputable evidence that in the states with the strictest gun control laws, unsurprisingly, there are the least gun-related deaths.
There are common sense measures Congress should be able to pass.Requiring a universal background check on all gun sales is the first priority. At present, private gun sales are not federally required to undergo a background check. Shutting down this loophole would be the first logical step, following limiting the production and sale of magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
Fearful of a challenge from Tea Partiers in primaries, however, moderate-leaning Republicans are not daring to break party line and pass gun reform. This could not be more true than for the recently re-elected New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has stayed away from passing comprehensive gun control legislation, knowing that doing so would effectively cut off any chance of a 2016 presidential run. Christie unscrupulously refused to sign comprehensive gun control legislation earlier this year, which would have banned .50 caliber rifles and report lost or stolen guns to federal agencies.
In just over a month, the nation will remember the 26 children and adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Next month, President Barack Obama must lay the blame squarely on Republicans and the NRA for denigrating the memory of the victims of these recent shootings. In the 11 months since Newtown, not a single piece of gun reform legislation has passed, while shootings still occur daily, even at Congress’ front door. As Obama stated poignantly following the Newtown tragedy, “We won’t be able to stop every violent act, but if there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation, all of us, to try.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 11 print edition. Harry Brown is a staff columnist. Email him at [email protected]