Since I last wrote about guns, just before Christmas, the carnage has continued. Among the dozens if not hundreds of what are accepted as run-of-the-mill gun deaths in a typical week in America, two stand out.
In Wauwatosa, a young police officer was shot and killed on the morning of Christmas Eve. While there is little detail known about the murder, one thing is clear. She was a trained police officer, just like the trained and armed security guards the NRA said should be in every school in its bizarre news conference last week. Yet, like at Columbine where trained and armed sheriff's deputies couldn't stop the shooters, Officer Jennifer Sebena apparently wasn't able to stop her armed killer. So much for "good guys with guns" beating "bad guys with guns."
At about the same time that Officer Sebena's body was being discovered in Wauwatosa, a gunmen was opening fire on unsuspecting volunteer firefighters responding to a house fire near Rochester, New York. He killed two of them and injured others. The gunman, William Spengler, appears to have used an AR-15, the same rapid-fire semi-automatic weapon that another crazed man used to kill 27 people in Newtown, Connecticut earlier in the month.
Last week, I wrote that the NRA doesn't deserve a seat at Vice President Joe Biden's table when he works out a policy response to this senseless gun violence. But it turns out that the NRA wouldn't accept that seat if it were offered. They've said that any answer that doesn't include still more guns isn't a response that they will support.
We are also learning more this week about the deep ties between the NRA and gun manufacturers, and about their campaign to stop scientific research into gun violence. Incredibly, the NRA forced through a law about a decade ago that actually prohibits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying guns as a public health threat, and prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from releasing information it collects (at public expense) on gun deaths.
So much for the "freedom" the NRA says it's defending. Seems the NRA likes Soviet Russia tactics when it comes to control of information.
For more on this, it's worth a half hour of your time to listen to the excellent interview of Tom Diaz, a former NRA member and author of the forthcoming book The Last Gun on National Public Radio's Fresh Air program from last week.
With the NRA taking itself out of the debate, both literally and through its off-the-wall reaction to these recent incidents, we may just have a chance to turn the tide against this epidemic of gun violence. What is important is to make sure the Biden commission doesn't propose weak half-measures that won't show results. The only thing that will work is to significantly reduce the number of guns -- especially assault rifles and handguns -- everywhere in America.