A similar assault rifle was used in recent mass-murders in Newtown, Ct.; Las Vegas; San Bernardino, Calif.; Sutherland Springs, Texas and Aurora, Colo.
A familiar pattern has emerged after mass shootings. Lawmakers offer thoughts and prayers and then quietly shoot down any restrictions on gun sales, citing their fealty to the Second Amendment.
There is a chance that this time will be different, thanks largely to the teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who are fighting back against lawmakers who protect industry profits over the lives of their constituents.
Pundits such as the National Review‘s Rich Lowry are quick to remind us that the Parkland students are mere “teenagers with no specialized knowledge of gun policy.” But these teenagers are smart enough to understand that the real impediment to sensible gun laws is not the Second Amendment but lawmakers who take industry money through groups like the NRA.
At a CNN town hall attended by survivors of the Parkland shooting and elected officials, the audience erupted in cheers when high school junior Cameron Kasky asked, “So Senator Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future?” Sen. Marco Rubio, who has received $3,303,355 from the NRA over the course of his career, had no response except to change the subject.
What Kasky doesn’t understand is that there is a gentleman’s agreement among establishment politicians and pundits not to call each other out for their obeisance to corporate funders. While gun industry money tends to favor Republicans, politicians on both sides of the aisle spend much of their time in office dialing for corporate dollars and then helping their corporate sponsors maximize profits.
This is a truth we rarely hear as most of our news comes from corporate-owned networks and corporate-sponsored programs. When everyone lives in glass houses, sometimes it takes a teenager with “no specialized knowledge” to throw the first stone.
Unable to discuss their NRA funding, gun industry lackeys like Rubio fall back on the excuse that the Second Amendment ties their hands and prohibits restrictions on gun sales. This is nonsense.
Corporate politicians and their appointed judges will happily ignore any language in the Constitution that interferes with the business of their corporate masters. The only constitutional provisions that achieve sacred status are the ones that protect corporate profits.
For example, the Constitution prohibits the president from taking military action without a congressional declaration of war, except in extreme cases. Our Founders intended the war powers clause to bring deliberation and debate to the important decision whether to embroil our nation in foreign wars, with the costs in blood and added taxes falling to common citizens.
But because this constitutional language would negatively impact the profits of the war industry, the will of the Founders is simply ignored. If we had followed that constitutional rule, the U.S. wouldn’t have fought any of its wars since the end of World War II.
The Fourth Amendment requires the government to obtain a probable cause warrant before invading our privacy. But our Congress, president and courts are all willing to set Fourth Amendment concerns aside and allow private corporations, acting as government agents, to collect, store and analyze our private data, all without a warrant and at taxpayer expense.
Even the First Amendment, written in the most absolute terms (and without the Second Amendment’s qualifying language about a well-regulated militia), is often set aside to accommodate corporate interests. Thus, whistleblowers who attempt to expose crimes and malfeasance by government officials (and their corporate partners), receive no protection from the First Amendment.
Corporate-owned politicians don’t care about the Constitution. How many of them have even read it? They make it easy for mass-killers to buy assault rifles because this helps their patrons in the gun industry sell more guns and maximize profits.
Thank you, Parkland teenagers for finally calling them out.
This originally ran as an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times. Reprinted with permission.