As we continue to grieve the tragic loss of lives in Sunday’s massacre in Las Vegas, Nevada, let’s be really, unmistakably clear:
This tragedy was preventable. Gun-control legislation to keep weapons of war out of our communities and reduce the frequency of these disasters is in place elsewhere in the civilized world. Just not here in the United States.
And let’s also be straightforward in assessing the fight for common-sense gun safety reform so far, because the stakes are too high to spin this or to kid ourselves:
Big picture, we’ve been losing to the NRA. Badly.
No doubt, we’ve contributed to some hard-fought wins, like President Obama’s executive order to narrow a gaping gun-show loophole and important state-level wins across the nation, from Colorado to New York.
But more often than not, the NRA is setting the national agenda and pushing America in an ever-crazier direction — from prohibiting schools from banning guns to deregulating silencers for guns.
And the body count from massacres — and daily shootings — continues to rise.
The NRA wants us to accept the status quo and give up on ever challenging its dominance in American politics. But we must refuse to accept that. I believe that we must do far more than ever before. And the announcement today the NRA may support federal review of “bump stocks” — an incredibly modest step, meant to block real reform from moving in Congress — does signal a shift in the political climate. They may finally be on the defensive.
Now’s the moment: Let’s take on the NRA’s political strategy directly.
We must put our efforts to defeat NRA-backed candidates in 2017 and 2018, demonstrate that the NRA can be beat, and break its stranglehold on American politics.
We might not be able to get Congress to act today, this week, or even this year (although we must try!). And there’s no point in trying to convince Donald Trump. But by defeating the NRA in elections this year and next, we’ll help take back the House, get more pro-gun-control Democrats into office, and show the remaining Republicans that the NRA doesn’t speak for the American voters — so it’s time for our politicians to stand up to the NRA.
In any other country, what happened in Las Vegas that Sunday and its aftermath would be unthinkable: a devastating gun massacre followed by zero legislative action. But here in the U.S., that’s just how it is — because our politics are frozen by the perceived power of the NRA.
The key word: perceived. Because Republican politicians see the NRA as ultra-powerful, they think that staying in power means always siding with the gun lobby — against public safety. So the only way to end this lethal political limbo is to show that the NRA is not a political blessing but, in fact, a political curse.
In the United States of America, power should flow from people voting at the ballot box, not a shadowy special-interest group committed to undermining public safety. The horror in Las Vegas should not paralyze us, but propel us to action. Let’s stand up to fight for a country in which no one has to live in fear and where our democracy is worthy of its people.