I wish I could say that yesterday's U.S. Senate hearing on gun control was disappointing. But in order to be disappointed, you have to have expected something better. I didn't, and so I can't say I was let down.
There was stirring testimony from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who struggled bravely to get through her brief testimony assisted by her astronaut husband Mark Kelly. Here's a woman with a bright future, who after being gunned down in a parking lot, will never be the same. Six people were killed in that attack.
Then as the hearing went on word came that an even younger bright woman, a popular fifteen year-old who had just marched in the parade celebrating the president's second inaugural, had been shot and killed in Chicago.
In fact, the other day Joe Nocera did a brilliant job of simply capturing the gun carnage in a single average week in a America.
Then came testimony from Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association. LaPierre came out against everything, even the type of universal background checks that he had supported when testifying before Congress in 1999. This shouldn't be surprising to anyone, because LaPierre was pursuing the consistent strategy of the NRA for decades: oppose even the smallest, most reasonable steps so that anything that would actually work won't even be proposed.
LaPierre inadvertently made the case for really meaningful gun control himself when he said that even universal background checks wouldn't keep guns out of the hands of the criminally insane. He's right. With an estimated 300 million guns circulating out there, it's impossible to imagine how background checks would be a serious impediment to anyone who wanted to get their hands on a gun. In fact, the Newtown shooter borrowed the legally obtained guns owned by his mother to do his damage.
What will work is a ban on the manufacture, importation, sale and possession of all semi-automatic weapons and handguns everywhere in America. That's what we need to start talking about, and that's what we need to push for. There is no negotiating with the NRA. They will oppose everything, even the most innocuous of proposals. We need to move discussion towards at least a consideration of meaningful gun control.