Published: Jan 05, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Jan 01, 2013 05:04 PM
Its only been a matter of weeks since a pathetically troubled young man dipped into his mothers arsenal and changed our world at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but already there has been an outpouring of pent-up passion and persuasive analysis from scores of insightful political leaders, advocates, journalists, bloggers and average citizens. Across America, millions have stood up to echo the presidents conclusion in his unforgettable memorial speech in Newtown, Conn.:
We cant tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.
Happily, it appears the nation is actually awash in rational voices on this matter. Smart people know we must do much more and are saying it publicly. Add to this reality the news of some encouraging national poll numbers and its not impossible to see a path forward in which the real and meaningful gun regulation advances.
Whats missing in all this, of course, is the same thing thats missing in so many critical public policy debates for those who would give voice to rational, common-sense solutions for the problems that ail us: money.
This sounds crass, but its true. The hard reality of the gun debate in the United States right now is this: On one side stands a passionate core of people for which guns are the one and only issue. They live and breathe guns 24-7 and contribute huge sums of money to the lobbying and political groups that concoct ever more extreme positions and supposed threats to justify their own existence.
And what stands on the other side? Truth be told, its not much: A smattering of well-meaning anti-violence groups, an array of progressive nonprofits for which gun violence is one of 27 or so issues, some public health and law enforcement officials and a handful of courageous political leaders. The truth of the matter is that while Americans want stricter gun control by a wide margin, for most of them, guns are not a single-issue passion as they are with the pro-gun crowd.
The results of this mismatch are predictable: the NRA and its allies rule the roost. Rather than working to combat gun violence and save innocents as has been done so effectively in so many other countries through sane gun regulations, elected officials fall all over themselves in their efforts to pledge fealty to the gun lobby and compete to see who can spread guns even the concealed variety into more and more places.
So could a large influx of anti-gun violence money really change this equation? Could it actually help bring about a meaningful shift in the attitudes of our elected leadersone big enough to force genuine enforcement of the entire Second Amendment (you know, including the part about a well-regulated Militia??
The answer here is an unequivocal yes.The playing field
Right now, the playing field isnt just tilted; its not even a competition. Anti-gun violence advocates in North Carolina dont have a crew of lobbyists, a team of lawyers, a fleet of writers and thinkers to help inform public opinion or a team of grassroots organizers like the pro-gun crowd..
And while an influx of money could not establish such an infrastructure overnight, it could certainly make an enormous difference in reasonably short order.
So, could this happen? If so how? Well, right now, the man heading Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Michael Bloomberg, is worth something like $25 billion. He seems like a person capable of funding the effort on a national basis. One percent of that fortune would go a long way toward getting the job done.
But hes far from the only one. Bill Gates wants to improve the nations schools, right? How about starting by keeping the kids and teachers in them alive?
Lets hope that, in the months ahead, the plain truth of this potential solution to our national crisis begins to dawn on some of Americas more open-minded plutocrats. It may not be the most wholesome or inspiring solution to the problem, but at this point, who cares? Right now our children and teachers are being murdered. If we can save some lives by simply buying our politicians back from the gun crowd, lets get started immediately.