Guns and Congress; Special Report

Making America Safe:

What will it take?

The question has been on the lips of rational people even before Sandy Hook, and has turned into an angry finger-pointing scream since Orlando: What will it take to make America safe? You won't like the answer, but given that commonsense, community spirit, and basic decency jumped the shark decades ago, it seems pretty obvious: more bloodshed.

I don't mean another Orlando-style mass slaying; events such as that have become so routine that we're numb to them. The blood that will have to spill is that of Republican members of Congress and their loved ones. Let me be unambiguously clear. I am a man of peace. Not only do I not possess a firearm, I've never held or fired one. I do not advocate or condone violence against anyone. But if you ask me what it will take, my answer stands.

How can I say such a horrible thing? Because Republicans in Congress are so unspeakably out of touch with ordinary Americans as to reside in an alternate reality. They are content to take campaign contributions from the Nazi Rifle Association because America's mean streets are walled off from their gated communities. Violence is a mere abstraction and has largely been so since World War Two. Republicans don't care that you and your kids go to war abroad and return to battle at home, because they and theirs don't experience the consequences of those wars.

It's no leap of logic to connect foreign and domestic wars. Try to find the name of the last child of a member of Congress killed in combat. His name was Larry McDonald and he died in French Indochina in 1945. Looking for the last sitting U.S. Congressman killed in military action? Senator Edward Baker of Oregon, October of 1861 in Virginia, during the Civil War. Know how many sons of U.S. Senators served in a unit anywhere near combat during the Vietnam War? Just one, and his name was Albert Gore Jr. Dead or wounded? One. Representative's son suffered a leg wound.

No wonder members of Congress so blithely send your sons (and daughters) to dangerous places—it's not like it touches them. When George W. Bush managed to prove he is an absolute fool by starting a conflict even dumber than the Vietnam War, only seven members of Congress had children in the military and only Senator Tim Johnson (D, SD) had a son in a dangerous situation.

As for the war on American streets, cirrhosis of the liver is more likely to wipe out an NRA-funded Congressman than the bullets they'd put into gumball machines if the NRA commanded them to do so. Gabby Giffords was gunned down and survived in 2011, but who counts liberals like she? Prior to that, you have to go back to Senator John Stennis, shot twice by muggers in 1973, for the last attack on a Congressional member. The last member of Congress killed on American soil was Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968. Since then, two others have died abroad–Representative Larry McDonald (D, GA) was aboard a Korean Airlines flight shot down by the Soviets in 1983, and Representative Leo Ryan (D, CA) died in the Jonestown massacre in 1978.

The NRA doesn't like to talk about the fact that the politicians it buys are in greater danger from hunting with Dick Cheney than from anything happening outside their protective bubbles. And it surely doesn't want you to know about Representative Jackie Speir (D, CA) who was with Leo Ryan in 1978, and survived being shot. She's been a gun control advocate ever since. Of course, President Reagan took a bullet in 1981, but do Republicans tell you that he supported the Brady Bill, or that he embraced moderate gun control after leaving office? The NRA will never tell you that it supported California's new gun control law in 1967, after armed Black Panthers marched into the California legislature. Or that the signature on that law belongs to a Republican: Governor Ronald Reagan.

Read all about it on this blog. Republicans won't tell you any of this. They don't care. Why should they? It has nothing to do with Congressional members or their children. It sickens me to say it, but I suspect only one thing will make Congress care: the pain of loss.

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