The day after the Newtown massacre I passed an old Volvo wagon on the Merritt Parkway with a hand-lettered sign that said: "F--- the NRA." That pretty-much summed up my still raw reaction to the use of an AR-15 assault rifle to tear apart 26 children and teachers at the Sandy Hook School.
When I heard President Obama's impassioned plea for a vote on gun violence legislation in the State of the Union address this week I thought about that sign and the NRA's role in blocking every attempt to regulate access to guns since the 1994 assault weapons ban, that was allowed to expire in 2004.
Fear is a powerful weapon and the NRA has fostered the belief that the assault weapons ban and the NRA's campaign against its proponents in the 1994 midterm election shifted the House from Democratic to Republican control. Politicians of both parties fear the NRA and have avoided meaningful gun regulation despite numerous gun deaths, including repeated massacres at Columbine, Virginia Tech and other places which ordinarily would focus some legislative response.
There is no good reason to permit public sale of assault rifles, extended magazines and "cop-killing" bullets or to inhibit backround checks or registration of those military-style weapons, magazines and ammunition that are out on the streets or sold in stores and gun shows.
Yet when the President called for a vote in Congress the stony looks he received from the predominantly Republican Congressmen sitting on their hands while gun violence was addressed in the SOTU speech told the story that fear still stalks the halls of Congress. That fear may not be limited to Republicans; Harry Reid is said to be working against re-institution of the assault weapons ban.
Public opinion is running strongly in favor of reasonable gun control, but the NRA is counting on the anti-gun fervor, derisively referred to as "the Connecticut Effect", to cool and for politicians to quietly kill any legislation to stem gun violence.
Well, I think the hand-lettered sign had it right about the NRA and we citizens should force Congress to address our national disgrace of gun violence.