State Rep. Prasad Srinivasan of Glastonbury, one of the pack of Republican candidates for governor, recently assured the pro-gun Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL) that he regretted his vote in favor of tighter gun controls in the wake of the brutal mass murder of elementary school children in Newtown in 2012. The sad thing is, he may have just improved his chances of winning the Republican nomination.
Srinivasan’s speech before the CCDL came only a few days after another horrifying school mass shooting, this time in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen died, mostly teenagers, after a badly warped young man who had steeped himself in racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic hatred online brought his AR-15 to bear on his former classmates.
The response from the survivors has been nothing short of a miracle. They have stood up to the gun lobby, Republican politicians, and the president himself to demand real gun control in America. They have shown extraordinary courage and resolve in their challenge to a political establishment that is incapable of acting on guns.
It’s possible that a generation that grew up in a suffocating security state that didn’t care to protect them from guns has had enough. Good for them.
Huge majorities of the public are with them, too. A Quinnipiac poll showed 66 percent in favor of stricter gun laws, the highest percentage recorded, and a staggering 97 percent in favor of universal background checks.
The idea that 97 percent of Americans can agree on anything is in itself astonishing. And yet, the Republican-controlled Congress will not act. They will not pass even the most tepid of controls. President Trump seemed interested in background checks in a tweet on Tuesday, but I’m guessing that won’t last.
In Connecticut, the state where Sandy Hook happened, a Republican can get up in front of a crowd of gun lovers to say that now he understands, it’s the person, not the gun.
Do I even need to run through all of the ways in which that’s wrong? The evidence is all around us: in the form of every other country on the planet. It may indeed be the person, as Srinivasan says, but why do people like that have access to weapons that are one small step down from military-grade? Why do any of us have access to assault weapons at all?
The AR-15 and guns like it exist to kill many people in a short amount of time — period. No one who isn’t a trained soldier should have them in their hands. If you’re one of the paranoids worried about the government becoming tyrannical and needing to defend yourself against them, let me reassure you that they have tanks and flamethrowers and nuclear missiles. An AR-15 won’t save you.
No one should be allowed to buy any gun without a background check and a waiting period. This is simple, and it’s common sense. To argue anything else in the face of so much blood, so many innocent lives lost, is morally reprehensible, and I do not understand it.
In 2013, Rep. Srinivasan did the right thing. He voted for gun control as a Republican. That he feels that abandoning that principled stand now is a smart idea for his campaign says so much about the state of Republican politics, and the right wing as a whole.
Bill Steitz of Politico suggests that it’s not the money or the NRA itself, but a violently pro-gun slice of white American culture that keeps us from going anywhere on guns. Like so many other insular and extremist political cultures, they’ve created for themselves an alternate reality where no amount of innocent bloodshed will change their minds.
That culture needs to wake up and ask itself some hard questions.
Is it worth it, gun lovers, to get back at the liberals and those smug urban elites? Is a piece of your culture that has turned a macabre hobby into an actual death cult worth preserving?
I know you love to mock our tears. Well, I am crying. I am filled with grief, and despair, and rage. I am emotional, hysterical, and whatever else you want to call me. My heart bleeds for our poor country, and I don’t know how to make any of you see.
Maybe we’re beyond that, though. Maybe the rising generation has shown us that we don’t need you anymore.
A reckoning will come someday. I can hope that not too many innocents will die before then, but I know I hope in vain.
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
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