By The Houston Chronicle
In the wake of this nation’s most recent mass shooting — as of this writing, we hasten to add — it’s easy to identify with the anguish and frustration of a former FBI senior intelligence adviser named Phil Mudd. A CNN counterterrorism analyst these days, Mudd broke down on the air Feb. 14 as he and CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer discussed the massacre that had occurred moments earlier at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“A child of God is dead,” Mudd reminded Blitzer. “Cannot we acknowledge in this country that we cannot accept this?” he asked, choking back tears.
For Mudd, for many Americans, what happened last week, yet again, was literally unspeakable. At least 17 children of God — high-school kids, a beloved assistant football coach, a 35-year-old geography teacher — lost their lives in an instant, their fragile bodies torn and riddled by high-velocity bullets emerging at supersonic speed from a military-style assault rifle wielded by a fearsomely troubled teenager who had no trouble acquiring guns.
The silence is understandable, yes — but also unacceptable, as Mudd would doubtless acknowledge. We must speak the unspeakable, listen to those among us who summon the strength to rage against the insanity we have come to tolerate.
Listen to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, whose triplets graduated from the Parkland school, speaking at a candlelight vigil: “If you’re an elected official, and you want to keep things the way they are, and not do things differently, if you want to keep the gun laws as they are now, you will not get re-elected in Broward County.”
Listen, and watch — if you can bear it — as Lori Ahaldeff screams into a CNN microphone and with tears streaming down her face begs President Trump to act. Her 14-year-old daughter, her smiling, dark-haired Alyssa, was one of the 17 who no longer exists on this earth.
Listen to the children — not only those who gathered at vigils in Florida and chanted “No more guns!” but also to young people around the country who simply cannot fathom a deadly and uniquely American absurdity that their elders, for whatever dark reasons, will not address.
According to a recent survey, 78 percent of millennials believe it is too easy to purchase a gun; 59 percent believe that gun violence would decrease if regulations were strengthened. Someday — and it can’t come too soon — those large majorities will prevail.
Americans young and not so young know what needs to be done. In fact, a large majority of Americans support sensible gun-regulation measures. They include banning the sale of assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as prohibiting bump stocks — remember bump stocks? — and other modifications that produce faster rates of fire. They include instituting universal background checks for gun and ammunition buyers, barring gun sales to all violent criminals and those deemed dangerous by mental-health professionals. They also include creating a centralized record of gun purchases and requiring all gun owners to be licensed just as all drivers are.
The National Rifle Association would like Americans to believe otherwise, but the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that the Second Amendment, while guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms, is not absolute. It was that screaming liberal, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who held in District of Columbia v. Heller that regulation of gun ownership was compatible with the Second Amendment.
A child of God is dead. More will die unless we the American people act.
If you’re a Texan, and your governor runs a campaign image of a revolver (a machine designed to kill) nestled against a Bible, vote him out; there’s no place in this state for such an obscenity. If you’re a Floridian, and you have a governor and U.S. senator so craven that they can’t even mention the phrase “gun control” in the wake of unspeakable tragedy, vote them out; they’re in thrall to the NRA, not to the people they purport to represent. If you’re an American, and you have a president who, in his public utterance about last week’s school massacre, relies on tired nostrums about mental health and never mentions guns, vote him out.
In the face of the unspeakable, it’s time to speak out. Time to vote. Time to shake off the stranglehold of the NRA and its lackeys who purport to represent us. All God’s children are watching, waiting.
>> Houston Chronicle