When Romney was governor of Massachusetts, he approved a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. He also increased the gun-licensing fee (which is a tax), to $100 from $25 in an effort to reduce the state’s budget deficit. Prior to his first presidential campaign, he became a lifetime member of the NRA.
Obama, as a state senator in Illinois, supported a bill that would ban the selling of all semiautomatic weapons and limit handgun purchases. After the shooting spree in 2011 that killed six people and wounded Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, he suggested new discussions on how to keep America safe from handguns. Even though the easy access to guns is the source of the problem, there are still no “new discussions” addressing tighter controls, and you can bet the NRA will probably continue donating to his campaign.
The Oklahoma City bombing of a federal building in 1995 is another example of political gridlock when it comes to preventing the loss of property and protecting the value of human lives in the future. Timothy McVeigh used ammonium nitrate fertilizer to build a bomb that killed 168 people, injured 680 and caused $652 million in damage. The ATF asked Congress to enact legislation that would require identification when buying an ammonium nitrate fertilizer and wanted sellers to keep records of the sales. The agricultural states lobbied against it saying farmers use the fertilizer legally and should not have to provide any identification. Currently, only South Carolina and Nevada require identification for purchases of nitrate fertilizers. But Congress did pass legislation that requires manufacturers to incorporate properties in its dynamite or other explosives used in a bomb that could be traced to the manufacturer. In other words, if there is a repeat of the Oklahoma City bombing, we may not know who did it but we will know who made the explosives. Thanks to the bought-off Congress, you can bet that somewhere in the heartland of America there is some extreme nut-case slowly building a supply of ammonium nitrate to build another bomb for future devastation.
Over the last 25 years there have been at least five mass shootings in the United States, killing almost 100 people. One of them was at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., less than 30 miles away from Aurora, where 12 students and a teacher were gunned down by two teenagers in 1999. Yet Congress will not sufficiently regulate the source of the problem.
The evolution between birth and death is life. The value we place on life collectively or personally is subjective and political. Politically, Americans see no value in the lives of Iranians or Afghans. A Brown University study shows that at least 132,000 civilians died from 10 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thirty five thousand have already died in Pakistan. Many were massacred by Americans with assault weapons and labeled as so-called collateral damage.
Collectively, Americans placed no value on the lives of defenseless women and children in Japan during World War II. We massacred (a savage and indiscriminate killing of human beings) more than 150,000 when we dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The jubilant politicians celebrated the slaughter of 75,000 more civilians when they dropped the second bomb on Nagasaki days later.
As we mourn the victims of the Aurora massacre, we should urge President Obama and Mitt Romney to break rank with the NRA and support tighter gun control. No one needs an assault weapon unless they plan to assault someone.
The value of life is subjective. As Americans, we should place the highest value on everyone’s life including our enemy’s. Instead of massacring them we should follow the words of David’s 23rd Psalm and “prepare a table for us in the presence of our enemies.” A table of negotiation, not murder. Subjectively, as humans, we should value all forms of life and end the killing and massacre of the innocents, whether they be man or animal.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.