The images of January 6, 2021 are seared into the collective national consciousness for a lifetime. The men and women in the middle of confirming Electoral College votes, scurrying across the floor of the U.S. Capitol. Professionally-dressed lawmakers crouching in a balcony or lying on the floor between wooden desks. Amid the sound of gunshots, flash bangs, and rising angry voices, hyped-up Trump insurrectionists attempted to overthrow the government. It reminded me of a school shooting. In the aftermath, the Washington riots may revive the gun control conversation but will Republicans join in?
This week Congress moved with its own “warp speed” to introduce an article of impeachment, “incitement of insurrection,” against President Trump. History will remember him as the only American president to be impeached twice and during a sole term. This is a disgrace.
But now, school shooting survivors have something to say to lawmakers.
Ariel Hobbs, a young gun control activist from Houston, shared what a lot of school shooting survivors must feel. She told Buzzfeed News, “Now you know how my generation feels and what it’s like to hide and hold your breath for your life.”
The similarities were bound to come up. A truck parked near the Capitol was packed with explosives, a crossbow, and other articles of warfare. Capitol police and the National Guard showed up at least an hour after the insurrection started.
Five people died including one Capitol officer. Another committed suicide. As the investigation gets underway, there are many questions. The main question is, “what took the police so long to arrive?” I also want to know why a police officer would be so traumatized that he would end his own life? Is there more to that story?
But, one thing is clear — this coup attempt could have been so much worse. Social justice was uppermost in many people’s minds that day. Americans of all colors made note of how long it took for police to arrive. As we watched and waited, mostly White insurrectionists wreaked havoc. So many people said in some form, “If (the domestic terrorists) had been Black…” We all know it would have been a bloodbath.
A big part of any gun control debate must include finally releasing the national stranglehold of the NRA (National Rifle Association). Despite alleged inhouse corruption by NRA’s ex-CEO Wayne LaPierre, the NRA still boasts an incredible 5.5 million members. In fact, membership actually increased after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.
I don’t think this love for Trump and guns was solely about fear of losing the Second Amendment. I think Trump stirred up a national bloodlust. Look at stills of “patriots” rappelling down the side of the Capitol or scrambling up the stairs, you see it. Look at the eyes.
American businesses are pulling away from funding Republican members of Congress who contested the Electoral College votes. Now it’s time to shed light on funding that the NRA and gun rights advocates pay to politicians.
Republicans like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz got the most money from the NRA, over $309, 000 in 2018. Sen. Josh Hawley, who led the charge for overturning the Electoral College results, received $59,000. Sen. Steve Scalise, who was shot in an assassination attempt, got a whopping $132,000. Even in the NRA’s weakened fiscal condition, the NRA continues to resound with the rank and file. Most of these gun-toters are Trump devotees.
Republicans seem to have “found religion” after running for their lives while doing the nation’s business. The Democrats’ second impeachment initiative even got the blessing of Mitch McConnell.
More than that, 10 Republicans backed the move. Now, Republicans can show some real sincerity by working with Democrats to remove the NRA’s non-profit status. That would be a start to substantive discussions on gun control to keep all of us safe.
Only time will tell if common sense legislation will finally break the yoke of the gun lobbies. If not, there will be more scenes of legislators running for their lives. But this time, Americans need to prepare themselves for a lot more bloodshed.
What can the new Biden administration do to make gun control a priority during those first 100 days?
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