By Ernest A. Canning
Those with blood on their hands include the five right-wing members of the United States Supreme Court who opened the door to a radical, out-of-control guns uber alles culture, by ignoring precedent, history and basic rules in their narrow 5-4 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), in order to erect an “individual” right to bear arms.
As observed by Justice John Paul Stevens in his powerful dissent in Heller:
The Second Amendment was adopted to protect the right of the people of each of the several States to maintain a well-regulated militia. It was a response to concerns raised during the ratification of the Constitution that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several States. Neither the text of the Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature’s authority to regulate private civilian uses.
Those with blood on their hands also include the propaganda arm of the small weapons industry, the “terrorist-enabling National Rifle Association” (NRA), along with their bought-and-paid-for, disproportionately Republican members of Congress, who have rejected the more than one hundred (100) gun control proposals introduced since 2011. The rejected Democratic proposals included a 2016 measure that would have restored the federal 1994 Assault Weapons Ban which expired in 2004. (In 2016, the Supreme Court upheld Maryland’s assault weapons ban, but many states do not have such bans).
Responsibility is also shared by irresponsible state legislators and governors. In Nevada, individuals can acquire an unlimited number of firearms, including “assault weapons, 50-caliber rifles or large-capacity ammunition magazines…Open carry is legal without a permit,” Newsweek reports, even as toy guns are banned on the streets of Las Vegas.
“How in God’s name did this shooter get, we’re told, 20 rifles into that [Mandalay Bay] hotel room, without attracting any untoward attention for doing it?” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow rhetorically asked. The answer, she asserted, can be found in the fact that Las Vegas is ground zero for our out-of-control gun culture where there’s an everything’s for sale gun show almost every weekend.
The problem, of course, is by no means limited to Nevada. With 59 dead and 527 wounded, the Las Vegas Massacre was the worst mass killing in U.S. history. Yet it was also the 273rd U.S. mass shooting that occurred in the first 275 days of 2017 — a near daily carnage that has left 11,652 dead and another 23,513 wounded, according to GunViolenceArchive.org.
Yet, it could be worse.
For those of who have served in the military, it is not all that difficult to imagine the damage wrought if, as was perfectly legal in Las Vegas, Paddock had carted a couple of .50 caliber machine guns up to his room. And one shutters to think what would have occurred if the heavily armed, right-wing extremists who descended upon Charlottesville, like an invading army, took it upon themselves to open fire on the unarmed, anti-fascist counter-protestors.