Twenty-six new victims, another town mourns, an entire nation grieves. Again, an old wound is opened and there’s an outcry from one coast to another for stronger gun control laws.
Even in the face of such unspeakable horror in Newtown, Connecticut, Americans love their guns. It’s estimated that at this moment there are 200 million guns in circulation across the nation. The vast majority of them are held by law-abiding citizens. Part of the debate deals with making the laws tougher to keep them out of the wrong hands, and finding ways to diminish the influence the powerful gun lobby has on Congress.
The National Rifle Association—defenders of the Second Amendment that allows Americans to bear arms—has power in its numbers….well over four million members. It shelled out $2.4 million this year alone in lobbying efforts to ease gun laws and regulations. The organization’s goals sharply contrast those the tens of millions of Americans who are fed up with all the gun violence and have set their sites on banning combat assault weapons like the one used by Adam Lanza to kill 26 children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
More than 100 protestors staged a demonstration in front of the NRA’s Washington office, chanting, “Shame on the NRA.” There was no response to their chants.
Curiously, the NRA which is usually quite vocal on issues, and communicates through social media, has been conspiculously silent since the shooting. In a most unusual move, it shut down its Facebook page after being overwhelmed by 1.7 million “likes.”
There also was silence at the Capitol…moments of silence in the Senate and House in tribute to the victims of the massacre.
As Congress gears up for the gun debate, some of the statistics are staggering. They show that Americans are buying guns in record numbers. The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday for example, the FBI did background checks on more than 150,000 firearm sales.
In November alone, Americans shopped for more than two million guns that were easy to find legally. In the four counties surrounding Newtown, there are some 400 gun dealers, 36 of them within a 10 mile radius of the town.
Though coincidental, it should also be noted that the second most powerful gun lobby is located in the very heart of Newtown. The National Shooting Sports Foundation is just three miles from the Sandy Hook School. According to reports, this year it spend half-a-million dollars on gun lobbying.