Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Now Is Not The Time." WRONG!

Say what you will about New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, but he is not afraid to take on hot-button issues, whether it be his proposal to ban over-sized sugary soft drinks to combat obesity or his advocacy of stricter gun control laws made all the more pressing in the wake of the Aurora massacre. 

One is left to wonder about the leadership potential, the guts, the independence, of such politicians as New Jersey governor Chris Christie who lamely hewed to the Republican/National Rifle Association party line that now is not the time to have a discussion of gun control. To which I would answer (for Mayor Mike): If not now, when? (The full quote from the Jewish sage Hillel is,  “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”)

Okay, perhaps it is too soon to digest the full context of Aurora. But what about Columbine? That was in 1999. Or what about Virginia Tech (2007)? Or the shoot-em-up in Tucson (2011)? Just when will it be the right time to talk about appropriate gun control?

Both political parties have abandoned any pretense of relevancy when it comes to protecting our citizens. With almost unanimous support by our nation’s police chiefs for stronger gun control laws, ex-prosecutor Christie’s failure to speak out forcefully about this life and death issue shows him to be a gutless politician. Where is his outrage that a special interest group has co-opted our nation’s safety? 

Christie is no worse than President Obama or his mind-numbing challenger Mitt Romney. It is not enough to be healer-in-chief. When will we come to our senses and realize no one needs semi-automatic guns and large ammunition clips? These are not sporting gear. They are tools by which to kill and maim in the extreme. 

It’s time we abandoned the pretense that restricting these sales somehow violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms. It’s time we corrected our course and choose to go forward into the second decade of the 21st century instead of lurching backward into the 19th century when carrying firearms into a saloon was standard practice. We’re making it easier, not harder, for people to carry weapons, even concealed weapons. 

The height of absurdity will be seen next month when Republicans gather in Tampa for their nominating convention. Tampa won’t allow anyone to carry a water pistol near the convention center, but will permit the carrying of concealed weapons. 

According to a Monday NY Times article, “In May the city adopted a temporary ordinance that will clamp down on protests in dozens of blocks near the Tampa Convention Center. Among other things, the ordinance requires a permit for groups of 50 or more to gather in parks; sets a limit of 90 minutes on parades; and bans an array of items, including glass bottles, aerosol cans and pieces of rope longer than six feet. It also provided for an official parade route for protesters along with viewing areas.

“During public debates, some Tampa residents and City Council members opposed the rules, calling them excessive. Others complained that while the ordinance outlawed water pistols, actual pistols were allowed for those with permits to carry a concealed weapon. Although Tampa's mayor, Bob Buckhorn, had asked the state's governor, Rick Scott, to ban firearms during the convention, the governor has refused.”

New York’s Mayor Bloomberg vented his frustration today by suggesting police departments across the country go on strike to express their support of tougher guns laws, a work stoppage action by public servants hardly in line with the position he or any other mayor would sanction in normal times. Which leads one to wonder, do we have to suffer through a disastrous shooting at the GOP convention for our politicians to separate their act from the yahoos at the National Rifle Association?

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