Will better, stronger laws help? Can they be passed?
Today is Thursday, March 30, 2023. It is three days after the shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, TN. It is one day after my Around the Block post which I sub-headed, Who will be next? When will be next? Where will be next? One thing is certain: GOP Congressional inaction and 2nd Amendment lunacy guarantee there will be a next! https://around-the-block.com/2023/03/28/assailant-kills-six-at-nashville-school-in-latest-us-mass-shooting/
To say I continue to be troubled by the events in Nashville three days ago would be an understatement. (I feel I can say, with reasonably good authority, anyone not still troubled by the mass shooting does not read, or agree, with my words.)
Since my post I’ve been following the news coverage. I’ve watched the mass demonstrations in Nashville protesting lax, and getting laxer, gun laws in Tennessee. I’ve listened to, and been disgusted by inane GOP pontification about the 2nd Amendment, hardening schools and gun reform inaction.
Regarding current gun laws, I thought this statement from the chief of the Nashville police department sets the tone for where we are right now regarding laws:
“We determined that Audrey [the shooter] bought seven firearms from five different local gun stores here legally; they were legally purchased. Three of those weapons were used yesterday during this horrific tragedy. She was under care, doctor’s care, for an emotional disorder; her parents felt that she should not own weapons. They were under the impression that when she sold the one weapon she did not own anymore. As it turned out she had been hiding several weapons within the house.”
Perhaps a little unpacking of this statement is necessary:
- She bought seven firearms from five different gun stores
- [All seven] were legally purchased
- She was under doctor’s care for an emotional disorder
I don’t know what more I need to do to demonstrate how far we are from meaningful gun control laws.
But if we are to go further, listen to statements on the day of the massacre from two Tennessee elected officials.
First, Representative Andy Ogles (R-TN), the poster boy for family gun fun. He’s the Congressman who represents the district in which the shooting occurred and who, as I reported yesterday, infamously sent out a Christmas Facebook post picturing him and his AR-15 loving family.
After Ogles’ “thoughts and prayers” bluster, he said this when asked about the photo:
“Why would I regret a photograph with my family exercising my rights to bear arms?”
Kind of puts his “thoughts and prayers” drivel into perspective, don’t you think?
And then there’s another Tennessee Republican Congressman, Tim Burchett, who said,
“There’s nothing the 535 elected officials in the House and Senate can do to reduce gun violence and gun deaths. We’re not gonna fix it. I don’t see any role that we could do other than mess things up, honestly.”
Betcha Congressman Burchett never bought into Barack Obama’s dream of “Hope and Change!”
Of course, while Mr. Burchett is lamenting the fact that the U.S. Congress can’t do anything but “mess things up,” I wonder if he’s been paying attention to what the legislators and the Governor in his own state are doing; they make “messing up” too mild a term.
Consider this reporting from the UK paper, The Independent, the day after the shooting:
In the weeks before six people, including three nine-year-old children, were fatally shot inside a Nashville school, Tennessee lawmakers considered several pieces of legislation to loosen restrictions on firearms.
The proposals were introduced two years after Republican Governor Bill Lee signed a bill into law that makes it easier for people to openly carry handguns in the state without a permit. Tennessee is one of 25 states with a permit-less concealed carry law, a measure that has been rapidly adopted by lawmakers across the US as part of what right-wing activists have called a “constitutional carry” movement in recognition of the Second Amendment.
The same year Tennessee’s legislation was signed into law, lawmakers approved similar measures in Arizona, Iowa, Montana, Texas and Utah. In 2022, lawmakers passed similar bills in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and Ohio. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida is expected to sign a similar measure into law this year after its passage in a GOP-controlled legislature.
Tennessee’s law allows most people 21 and older to carry handguns openly or concealed without a permit. It also extends those exceptions to US military service members from age 18.
When the measure passed the state’s House in 2021, GOP Majority Leader William Lamberth told lawmakers that it was “not the end of the journey” for legislative efforts that make it easier for people to carry firearms in the state.
Indeed, GOP state lawmakers introduced legislation that would allow all residents from age 18 to carry handguns without permits. Other proposals would allow residents to openly carry any firearm, including shotguns and AR-style rifles, without a permit, and would recognize similar permits issued in other states.
Another bill would allow teachers and school staff to carry a firearm on campus, while another would allow any adult who is legally allowed to carry a firearm in the state to do so on park or school properties, including college campuses and elementary schools.
I don’t think you can mess things up anymore than these people are.
But what about where the laws are strong? Good question; unfortunate answer:
California, which in an analysis by the World Population Review, was ranked as having the strictest gun laws in the nation with an “A” grade, was tied with Florida (C-, ranked #23, but about to become worse) for the most mass shootings to date in 2023, with 12. These two “losers” were followed by Texas (F), and Tennessee (D-, although on the path to a solid “F”) with 10, Illinois (A-) , Louisiana (F) and North Carolina (D) with seven and Pennsylvania (C+) with six. In all, there have been a total of 126 mass shootings in 28 states so far in 2023.
Can better, stronger laws work? Clearly, no law will end all gun violence. But if stronger laws, including outlawing all “weapons of war” were passed, they could help reduce the deaths and devastation. Can better laws, stronger laws, be enacted? Not easily, given the current political climate. And even if they could be passed in some states, freedom of movement between good states and bad states would undermine good state laws. Not to mention that our current Supreme Court would rule those stronger laws an unconstitutional affront to the 2nd Amendment and our “God-given” right to bear arms in that “well-regulated militia” we’re all apparently members of.
Having said that, and with all due respect to Congressman Burchett (although I’m not sure I owe him any respect) I think we’ve gotten to the point where we need to “mess things up!” The question is how?
3 thoughts on “In the aftermath of Nashville, are there any fixes?”
My grandson was locked down in school
yesterday, there were many calls in NY yesterday
When can children and all of us FEEL safe again,
Unfortunately, this is the America we live in…unlike the America we lived in. When I was in elementary school, we had two regular drills: the fire drill where we all left the school to gather in the schoolyard; and the air raid drill where we all had to hide under our desks. I’ve always wondered how the authorities at the time thought hiding under our desks would protect us from the Soviet nuclear bomb. Perhaps, because we were told to look away from the windows, the idea was that at least we wouldn’t see the mushroom cloud about to obliterate us.
The first step is to ban “the manufacture” of not just assault-type weapons, but all projectile weapons with magazines carrying two or more bullets. (This will never happen in the USA, right now, but it needs to be put on the table.)