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Op-Ed: Don’t expect ‘common sense’ to prevail

by CHUCK MALLOY/Special to The Press
| June 7, 2022 2:26 PM

Let’s face it, nothing significant is going to happen with curbing gun violence as long as the issue revolves around politics. For the foreseeable future, politics will remain as the focal point.

And even if (by some miracle) politicians do get together on a “common sense” resolution or two, I don’t know how Congress or any other body can legislate against “crazy.” Passing layers of new laws on top of the thousands of layers of laws that are on the books won’t do it. And neither will banning the sales of the AR-15 and other weapons.

Crazy people will find a way to pass screening, no matter how sophisticated it is, and get their weapons of choice. Crazy people are not deterred by the likelihood of being killed after a shooting spree.

I can understand President Biden’s outrage about the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. But instead of projecting calm and uniting the country, as presidents have been known to do, Biden poured gasoline on the fire. His call to action was to stand up to the gun lobby and (without saying it directly) those awful Republicans who accept campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association.

A few days later, the NRA holds its annual meeting in Houston where the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz talked about how those daffy left-wing Democrats were trying to disarm law-abiding Americans. The headline speaker at the conference was none other than former President Trump.

So with this backdrop, don’t expect Congress to come up with common sense gun laws, or common sense anything for that matter.

In Idaho, gun control suddenly has become a front-burner issue for Democratic congressional candidates — Kaylee Peterson of Eagle and Wendy Norman of Rigby. Terry Gilbert, who is running against Republican Debbie Critchfield, is promoting a “School Children’s Right to Life” law.

Traditionally, running against the NRA and gun-happy Republicans is a losing proposition for Democrats. But in this state, Democrats have little to lose by bringing up the issue. They hope that, in addition to major policy differences with Republicans, that people will be fed up with school shootings. After all, if they can happen in Texas, then Idaho is not immune.

Gilbert says that, if elected, he will propose a law that prohibits those under 21 from buying assault weapons or ammunition for such weapons. “I chose 21 because the brain is still forming until then, especially in young men. Indeed, most of the mass shooters have been males with immature brains,” he said in a news release.

Peterson offers stern criticisms to Idaho’s congressional delegation and, specifically, the Republican she’s challenging -- First District Congressman Russ Fulcher. “It is difficult to look at our representatives’ and senators’ lack of action and find any reasonable explanation. We may not agree on how exactly to solve this problem, but apathy is unacceptable. To do nothing is unacceptable.”

She says leaders such as Fulcher should be held accountable “for their inability to sit at the table, reach across the aisle and find a solution that saves the lives of our children.”

Norman, a 25-year teacher, slams Second District Congressman Mike Simpson for “kowtowing” to the gun lobby. “The gun lobby likes to say that restrictions like the 1994 assault weapons ban didn’t work, but it did. Gun massacres of six or more decreased by 37 percent for the decade the ban was active, then shot up to 183 percent during the decade following its expiration.”

She calls for enacting “sane” gun laws.

Of course, there is considerable dispute over the definition of “sane.” What seems to be perfectly reasonable for Democrats is seen by Republicans as attempts to dismantle the Second Amendment. And the debates go far beyond those usual disagreements between the political right and left.

It gets into utter hatred on both sides. If Congress could pass a law that would end political hatred, then maybe we could make inroads to stop crazy.

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Chuck Malloy is a longtime Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at ctmalloy@outlook.com.

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