U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam feels bad about the mass murder in Las Vegas.
“Our nation has, once again, been anguished by the tragic news of a horrific attack on our citizens,” he said in a statement on Monday, the day after the attack at a country music concert. “The heinous and violent actions of an evil man stole the futures of dozens of our fellow Americans.”
But Roskam, we should note, takes money from the gun lobby. From 1998 through 2016, the National Rifle Association gave him $20,450.
His words of condolence are nice, but empty. They won’t bring back Sonny Melton, 29, a registered nurse from Tennessee, who was shot dead at the show.
Maybe Roskam should stop being an NRA toady. Maybe he should do something concrete, like stop the sale of military-style weapons to any mope who comes along.
Rep. Randy Hultgren feels bad about all the killing, too.
“Horrific attack in Las Vegas, and a senseless targeting of the innocent,” he tweeted. “We mourn with the families and victims.”
But Hultgren also takes money from the gun nuts. From 1998 through 2016, the NRA gave him $13,000.
And Hultgren’s words won’t bring back Rachael Parker, a 33-year-old police records technician in Manhattan Beach, California.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger looks like another hypocrite.
“As a nation,” he said, “we mourn this horrific, senseless tragedy and we stand together against this vile act of hate.”
But since 1998, the NRA, America’s great enabler of domestic terrorism, has given him $6,000.
And nothing Kinzinger might say now will bring back Susan Smith, a 53-year-old mother who worked as an elementary school office manager in Simi Valley, California.
Rep. John Shimkus chose to state the obvious.
“Violence and hate are never the answer,” he tweeted.
But neither are guns that shoot nine bullets per second. And since 1998, the NRA has given Shimkus $29,450.
And Carrie Barnette, 34, who worked at Flo’s V-8 Café at Disneyland in California, is gone forever.
Rep. Rodney Davis, for his part, was heartbroken. He said so.
“Heartbroken by the senseless tragedy in Las Vegas,” he tweeted. “Praying for the victims of this horrific shooting.”
But since 1998, the NRA has given the congressman $14,900.
And while Davis is heartbroken, Lisa Romero, a school secretary in Gallup, New Mexico, is dead.
Rep. Mike Bost asks that we “please pray for the families and victims of the Las Vegas shooting.”
But prayers have yet to defeat the NRA, which since 1998 has given Bost $4,000.
And Bost’s prayers come too late for Adrian Murfitt, 35, a commercial fisherman from Anchorage, Alaska.
Rep. Darin LaHood suggested we beseech the Almighty, too.
“Prayers of comfort go out to all those impacted by this senseless violence,” he said.
But we would rather beseech LaHood, who has accepted $3,000 from the NRA, to do something.
Do it for Hannah Ahlers, a 34-year-old mother of three from Murrietta, California. Do it for all 59 people killed in Las Vegas, and for the hundreds who were wounded. Do it, Rep. LaHood, for your soul.
These seven members of Congress from Illinois, all Republicans, all take money regularly from the gun lobby. Instead, we would ask the congressmen to finally take even the smallest steps toward common-sense gun laws that would not violate anybody’s intellectually honest defense of the Second Amendment.
What would be so radical, for example, even for a Second Amendment Republican, in going after weapons of mass murder now the way we went after weapons of Al Capone-style slaughter? We support — and every congressman named here should support — a call to regulate all military-style firearms, including semi-automatics, with a law similar to the successful 1934 National Firearms Act.
That law used registration and high taxes to address mass Prohibition-era murders with machine guns. It required all ownership transfers of Class III firearms, such as machine guns and short-barreled shotguns, to go through a federal registry, and the $200 ownership-transfer tax placed on machine guns back then would work out to more than $3,600 today.
Thomas C. Vanden Berk, president of the Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee, reasonably predicts that the high cost and the government’s ability to track the weapons would deter most would-be criminals — just as it did before.
If we had it our way, Congress would simply revive the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, tighten regulation on large-capacity magazines that minimize the need to reload, and outlaw kits — like the bump stock the killer used in Las Vegas — that make it easy to convert a semiautomatic weapon into an automatic weapon.
But let’s start small. Let’s see if our fearful Republican congressmen can wean themselves from the NRA even mildly. Let’s revive a modest regulation that proved effective in the 1930s.
Locally, we strongly favor a bill coming up for a vote in the Illinois Legislature to require state licensing of gun shops. Federal oversight of gun shops is lazy and limited, but the state can’t do much about that now, even in cases where a dealer is careless about letting guns get into criminals’ hands. The law would add surveillance requirements that would make it easier to catch gun thieves and to stop straw purchasers — people who legally buy large numbers of guns and then sell them to criminals.
When 59 people are slaughtered at a country music concert, “thoughts and prayers” don’t cut it.
Take away the guns of war.
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