Gabby Giffords. Newtown Elementary and now Hadiya Pendleton are emblems of the epidemic of gun violence, facilitated by easy access to weapons of mass destruction.
The 15-year old Chicago girl had just marched in President Obama’s Inaugural Parade with the South Shore Drill Team, when she just a week later she was gunned to death while taking refuge from the rain as she walked home from school, just a mile from where President Obama has his home.
You contrast the pride and elation of the city in raising money to send the South Shore Drill Team to Washington, with the complete and utter tragedy in a life snuffed out. (See photos)
“Since learning on December 18, that the group was one of the first 24 chosen from among 2,800 applications, the team appealed to the community for $45,000 to cover transportation, lodging, and meals,” myfoxchicago reported.
“Gifts have come from the North Side, West Side, South Side, and the suburbs. People from all walks of life and all ethnic backgrounds sent in contributions, making it an all-Chicago effort. Many included congratulatory notes thanking team members for making Chicago proud.
“A celebratory send-off will be held on Friday, January 18 from 4-6 p.m. at the Comer Center. People can sign a banner and wish team members well.”
President Obama has always included Chicago and its daily carnage in a list of senseless tragedies due to gun violence – contrasting the horrific mass murders that have become so commonplace with the everyday murders on streets, street corners, homes.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday day that the death of Hadiya Pendleton is “just another example of the problem we need to deal with.”
Carney said the “thoughts and prayers” of President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were with Pendleton’s family. He also reiterated the Obama administration’s position that those in Washington “have an obligation to try” to forge bipartisan agreement on gun control if it means that even one life can be saved.
“Well, it’s a terrible tragedy — anytime a young person is struck down with so much of their life ahead of them, and we see it far too often…. The president has more than once when he talks about gun violence in America referred not just to the horror of Newtown or Aurora or Virginia Tech or Oak Creek but to shootings on the corner in Chicago or other parts of the country. And this is just another example of the problem that we need to deal with,” Carney said during a press gaggle.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) mentioned Pendleton as he began questioning witnesses at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday on the issue of gun violence. Noting that Pendleton had marched in the inaugural parade just last week, he said, “It was the highlight of her young life.
“Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she’s gone,” Durbin said.
And still, Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association, insisted to the Senators that the government should do nothing to curb access to guns because that might interfere with citizens’ right to overthrow the government, to confront police or fight back against America’s soldiers with an equivalent firepower.
LaPierre rejects any restriction whatsoever, even making background checks universal (as he hiself supported in 1999, before the NRA Board chastised him for giving in on anything). He has blocked giving the government the tools it needs to prosecute illegal trafficking (despite his snide suggestion that there are already thousands of gun control laws on the books, if only the government would enforce them). The NRA even is responsible for prohibitions against the federal government even researching the public health consequences of gun ownership and gun violence, and has won legislation prohibiting doctors from even questioning parents if they keep guns at home, whether they are locked safely away.
LaPierre’s only proposal to prevent future assassinations and mass murders: more guns. Guns everywhere. Arm janitors and kindergarten teachers. And why not? That is more business for the gun manufacturers who pay his salary, and fund the campaigns of the Congress.
Durbin challenged LaPierre’s contention, made just days after the Newtown massacre, that the only thing “to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Addressing the gun violence epidemic in Chicago during the Senate Judiciary hearing, Durbin said the biggest problem is that the city is “awash in guns.”
“The confiscation of guns per capita in Chicago is six times the number in New York City,” Durbin said. “We have guns everywhere, and some believe the solution to this is more guns. I disagree. When you take a look at where these guns come from, 45 percent plus are sold in the surrounding towns around Chicago, not in the city.”
Joining LaPierre on the panel was Gayle Trotter, Attorney and Senior Fellow of the Independent Women’s Forum, Washington, DC, who said that banning 100-clip magazines and military-style machine guns from everyday use would put tiny single moms at risk for mayhem in their own homes. She cited the example of a mother who had to hide in a closet with her children when an intruder came in, only shooting him 5 times with the revolver she had, so he got away.
I was trying to imagine her hiding in a closet with a machine gun with a 100-clip magazine.
Until she could provide examples of 30,000 mothers a year who successfully fended off an intruder with a gun – without killing their child or some other innocent victim – her story has little merit. Because that’s how many people are killed each year through gun violence.
Every day there are more incidents of gun violence. Just today, a prosecutor in Kaufman, Texas was assassinated on his way to court.
Just a few hours later in the day, there was a shooting outside Price Middle School, in Atlanta, where multiple people including a 14-year old boy were wounded The shooter was a student.
Will Congress act? So far, attention has focused on the US Senate, where Democrats have the majority, but where a weak-kneed Harry Reid allowed Republicans to continue to wield the power of filibuster. The bigger question will be in the Republican-controlled House, where Speaker John Boehner has shown little inclination to bring the many bills that have been proposed to the floor.
More than 90% of Americans and 86% of NRA members want universal background checks; a solid majority want a ban on assault/military-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.
Gabby Giffords, the former Congresswoman who survived a near-assassination as she held a town meeting at a shopping center in Tucson that left six others dead, including a nine-year old girl, showing more courage than any of the Senators she faced on the Judiciary Committee, pronounced, “the time is now.”
“Okay. Thank you for inviting me,” she said, reading from a hand-written list. “This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans. Speaking is difficult but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act. Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you.”
Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner
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