A year later, Newtown tragedy fails to result in gun law changes

Three-hundred and sixty-five days have elapsed since a young madman senselessly slaughtered 20 elementary school children and seven adults in Newtown, Connecticut. The unimaginably horrific nature of that crime prompted a national outcry for action. Eighty-nine percent of Americans have expressed support for comprehensive background checks and stronger restrictions on the efforts of mentally ill persons and felons to purchase and own firearms. During that same period, members of the U.S. House of Representatives worked only 126 days (spending the rest of their time either raising campaign funds or sponsoring faux “town hall” meetings opposing the Affordable Care Act). Despite the proliferation of gun violence and the wishes of an overwhelming majority of their constituents they have thus far passed no meaningful gun safety legislation. The U.S. Senate is not without sin either. In April 2013, it rejected the Toomey/Manchin Background Check Bill, but finally agreed (Dec. 9, 2013) to extend the existing ban on computer-generated, all-plastic weapons that cannot be detected by airport scanners.

If gun-toting psychos in today’s society relied solely upon plastic weapons, there would be no problem!

Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, 11,348 gun-related deaths have occurred in the United States. There have been 24 mass shootings (averaging about two per month since Dec. 14, 2012) including the murders of four or more persons in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Albuquerque, N.M.; Herkimer County, N.Y.; Akron, Ohio; Federal Way, Washington; Manchester, Illinois; Fernley, Nevada; Waynesville, Indiana; Santa Monica, Calif.; Hialeah, Fla.; Clarksburg, W.Va.; Dallas, Texas; Oklahoma City; Chicago; Crab Orchard, Tenn.; the Federal Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.; Paris, Texas; Phoenix, Ariz.; Terrell, Texas; Callison, S.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Parsons, Kansas; Topeka, Kansas, plus the Nov. 1 LAX shootings that killed one NTS officer and wounded seven others. … Until they committed their deadly acts, the perpetrators of most of these crimes were “law-abiding, gun owners”!

Since the Newtown massacre, at least 15 states, including Maryland, Connecticut, Colorado, and California, have passed strong laws requiring background checks and restricting the purchase of certain military-style firearms. However, about 30 Republican-controlled states have enacted laws allowing the carrying of guns in nearly all public places. These laws are part of a vast “model-legislation” package pushed on behalf of the gun-manufacturers via ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) that has sponsored numerous right-wing, anti-union, anti-public-education, anti-women, and pro-business agendas across the nation. On Nov. 20, the Ohio House of Representatives passed HB-203, a “stand-your-ground” measure along the lines of the notorious Florida law that permits anyone to use “deadly force” if they “feel threatened” in any public place. HB-203 allows out-of-state persons (including fifth-degree drug felons) to enjoy conceal/carry privileges in Ohio. HB-203 was sponsored by Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) and co-sponsored by 95th District Rep. Andy Thompson. Thompson also co-sponsored HB-495 (a new and convoluted definition of a “loaded firearm.”) He has likewise advocated arming public school teachers. For his efforts, Thompson has received an 88 percent approval rating from the Buckeye Firearm Institute, a prominent gun manufacturer lobbyist group.

Ohio is commemorating the sad anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy by making it easier for felons and paranoiacs to pack guns in public places than it is for some ordinary citizens to vote!

Fred O’Neill lives in Marietta.