THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO be a look at this year’s primary elections, which are a legal bowl of spaghetti that might leave some candidates and voters confused right up to the general election in November. Then the news from Uvalde, Texas, rushed came in and demanded attention. Tragically, that’s just how the youthful monsters who perpetrate these murders want us to react.
But for us onlookers there’s a point at which revulsion is replaced with mass murder fatigue. Maybe our return to daily routines is accompanied by a shiver of recognition that, yeah, that it could have been me or my offspring, but it wasn’t. We keep our heads a little lower and move on.
Is there a strategy that would reduce these murders if only we could get the votes or raise the money? This state has the strictest gun possession laws in the nation and still the Tops supermarket killer apparently had no trouble purchasing firearms he used to murder Black people in Buffalo.
Tuesday evening President Biden offered prayers to ease the pain of the families in Uvalde. But he also stepped out of from traditional role as grievance-counselor-in-chief to chasten Congress for the lack of the “common sense gun laws” that might prevent so many deaths. And in that part of his remarks he reminded the country that in the 1990s Congress had adopted some limited restrictions on guns and gun violence declined until the law expired 10 years later.
I was editor of an Ulster County newspaper during the debate in Washington on he gun bill. Our paper was covering the local congressman. The Congressman’s name was Maurice Hinchey, a strong gun rights supporter who opposed the gun safety bills. The newspaper believed the bill would save lives and it seemed as if it might lose.
As the vote approached Hinchey’s staff reportedly gave him an ultimatum: Vote for this bill or we quit.
Maurice Hinchey was a principled man and a strong liberal voice except for this issue. But he voted for the bill and, like President Biden, he saw that the bill, as flawed as it was, helped remove guns from the streets and reduced the death by gun violence.
This is memory, not history. It serves to remind me that positions can be changed and if not, there are political consequences but only if there is the political strength and the commitment to make change.
It cannot be an effort to disarm the nation. That’s not be the goal. The point is to make rational voters understand that better regulation of guns and ammunition will make all of us safer, starting with our children.