BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR THE PHILLY POST It is a sad testament to the depth of our national indifference that it took the massacre of 20 six year olds in their first grade classroom to finally trigger a united and sustained public outcry for an end to the madness. After 62 mass murders and counting since 1982, we have, it would appear, finally reached the tipping point.
On this we can all agree: Never again.
In fairness, this complacency was not entirely our own fault, it was, by and large, fostered and fomented by the National Rifle Association, which runs interference and messaging for the corporations that mass produce precision-engineered lethality. The NRA is paid handsomely to ensure that gun makers are never held accountable for the resultant bloodbath whenever their product is used as intended. The NRA are, according to inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom, a fearsome lot, Vader-esque masters of the dark arts of fear, intimidation and paranoia.
With all apologies to Leonard Cohen, the NRA has seen the future, baby, and it is murder.
The NRA is almost wizardly in its harnessing of the spellbinding power of mass media to obfuscate the obvious. In the wake of every one of those 62 mass murders, the NRA successfully convinced us to ignore the literally smoking guns at the center of all this carnage.
Pay no attention to that armor-plated guy with the M-16 methodically wasting the audience at a Batman movie. Gun laws can’t stop that kind of thing. Shit happens, get over it.
Pay no attention to that Kansas City Chiefs linebacker that just blew his head off in the stadium parking lot after ventilating the mother of his child nine times over. It’s Bob Costas who committed the real crime: Attempting to speak truth to half time.
Twelve dead kids at Columbine High? I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t the guns, it was the Nine Inch Nails and the Marilyn Manson and the Trenchcoat Mafia, whatever that is. Guns don’t kill, people kill. Especially goth people.
And so on.
But as effective as it is at manipulating public opinion, the NRA is even more adept at bullying Congress — and until Sunday night at least, the White House — into inaction. The voting record of every lawmaker in the land is assessed and scored for simpatico-ness with the NRA agenda. Pity the Republican that does not score a perfect score or close to it, likewise the blue-dawg Dems trying to stay out of the doghouse in the red states they rep, because in addition to leading the congressional GOP around by its nose, they also claim to have some 50-plus Democrats on a short leash.
It is money that gives them this power.
Money in the form of much-needed campaign contributions and threats of financing pro-gun opponents to run against errant lawmakers in the next election. What is surprising is how little money they actually have to spend to completely buy Congress. In the last three elections, the NRA has spent a combined $3.3 million in direct campaign contributions.* That’s chump change. Last election cycle, Obama and Romney raised a combined $1.8 billion.
If Congress can be bought for a measly $3.3 milllion, I say we buy it back. MORE