I just got back from the American Health Care Association annual meeting in Las Vegas. The conference was at the Mandalay Bay resort, the site of the recent mass shooting. I watched the 4,000 participants eagerly learning, eating, and politicking as they always do.
I couldn’t really relax and just enjoy the truly beautiful resort. I could feel the terror of a few weeks ago. I wondered if one of the victims had been staying in my room. I couldn’t sleep. The view from my window was the site of the concert. One man, with the empowerment of ungodly weapons destroyed hundreds of lives in just a few minutes. Folks just like us, with no intent other than to have fun, were killed and wounded.
Immediately after the event, the gun advocates in congress and the White House made statements along the lines of, “This is no time to discuss gun policy. It’s disrespectful to the victims to make their suffering political.” Anyone with intellect, on both sides of the issue, knows that concept really is just a stalling tactic long employed by the gun lobby to keep policy from being legislated during moments that crystallize the risk of unlimited weapons access.
The pro-gun organizations argue against any limits on gun ownership or gun owners. They like to frame any gun legislation as an attempt by the government to strip Americans of their constitutional rights. If you lose your guns, then the government will proceed with other unspeakable acts against your freedoms. They argue that the people should be prepared to take up weapons to oppose and change the government.
Wasn’t the ability to change government intended to be the ballot box?
How do folks who argue against keeping guns away from the mentally ill and criminals sleep at night? How does one argue that it’s OK to carry guns into a day care center? Why do we allow folks to have weapons that act as machine guns?
As in many national policy issues, one needs to follow the money. The National Rifle Association receives tens of millions of dollars from the gun industry and its leaders. What was originally an organization to advocate for gun sports enthusiasts has become the mouthpiece for the gun manufacturers.
Most Americans support reasonable limits on who can own a gun and what type of guns they can own, but the NRA uses its tremendous resources to scare legislators and inflame gun users that any limits on guns are the slippery slope to banning all guns.
So, is this the time to discuss common sense limits on gun ownership? Of course it is. If not now, when? Do we need to wait for another horrific episode with some mentally deranged person buying hundreds of weapons and raining death onto an unsuspecting crowd of our friends and family?
No one needs a machine gun or the equivalent to defend their home. It doesn’t take a 60-bullet capacity to kill a deer. The time is now. Let’s insist our politicians have the guts to stare down the NRA. Maybe they’ll be able to stare at themselves in the mirror and like what they see when they do.
Scott Rifkin, MD, Publisher
Top photo: Concertgoers taking cover at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip following a mass shooting attack, Oct. 1, 2017. (David Becker/Getty Images)
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