Two weeks now, and three mass killings. Gilroy, California, at the annual Garlic Festival. El Paso, Texas, at a Walmart and shopping mall. Dayton, Ohio, in a nightlife district. All three traumatic and tragic. Our hearts do go out to the victims’ families and to those who experienced the trauma of having their lies endangered.
Of Western World countries, none experience the frequency of mass shootings, nor do they lose as many citizens each year, as does the United States. With up to 90 percent of the US population favoring background checks and a smaller number asking for a ban on automatic weapons, we might think our political leaders would respond with legislation and laws that would serve the will of the people.
If we were truly a democracy, such legislation and laws would be proposed and put into effect. But let’s face it, we are not a democracy. Repeat, we are not a democracy. Democracy means rule by the people: “The definition of democracy is a form of government in which the common people hold political power and can rule either directly or through elected representatives.”
I interpret that to mean that if the majority of people want certain measures, then our elected representatives—Congress and the President—are obligated to put those measures into effect. But they don’t.
It’s illustrative to note that the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott (R), when he talked about measures to reduce gun violence in the face of the El Paso shootings, confined his remarks to beefing up programs dealing with mental illness. While he avoided issues such as ‘domestic terrorism,’ ‘hate crime,’ ‘racism,’ and ‘gun control,’ for fear he would be hastening to judgment, he latched onto mental health as if it was clear that the El Paso shooter was mentally ill.
Maybe he is mentally ill. That’s not for the governor to decide, but mental health professionals. However, to steer discussion about the shooter to mental illness, which is an increasingly popular dumping ground for the alleged motivation of mass shooters, is to steer away from concerns most Americans share: background checks and bans on mass murder weapons.
Democracy says Americans should get what the majority of them want. But increasingly, elected politicians ride into office on a majority vote and then refuse to listen to the voters who elected them. Who do they listen to? Need I say? The NRA, the gun lobby, and those who detach the Second Amendment from the maintenance of a militia and declare it gives everyone in the country who desires a gun of any kind the right to purchase it and use it.
We are not a democracy. If we were, we would not fear for our safety and that of our children, at schools, festivals, on the street, and at stores and shopping malls. Enough ‘prayers and thoughts’ after a bloodbath. It’s time to do the will of the people