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Letter: The Path to Normalizing Gun Violence in America

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To the Editor:

Today, Dec. 14, is the 10th anniversary of the massacre of 20 school kids and six administrators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Seeing countless remembrances on Facebook is a stark reminder every year of the horrible (and avoidable) tragedy that occurred not only in Newtown, but in countless schools, houses of worship, nightclubs, malls, college campuses, parades, everywhere people assemble in numbers.

This holiday season, there are more empty seats at tables across our country due to gun violence than ever before. I can’t begin to imagine the suffering all these families and loved ones are feeling today.

What I find incredible is that politicians feel they must post some sort of tribute to these tragedies, or they face incredible criticism. And they feel that is good enough.

Ask yourself a question, you have five seconds to respond: When was the last club mass shooting and what state was it in? If you had to search your memory for more than a moment, that should give you pause. I’m not criticizing you; I am criticizing the fact that Congress has made a conscious decision to normalize mass shootings. They’d rather rationalize the ongoing horrors of assault weapons in the wrong hands than take action to do anything about it. Mass shootings are so commonplace now that people can’t keep track of when and where they occurred.

There is simply too much at stake for most of our elected officials to act on guns. There is also too much at stake for special interest groups and hucksters.

Republicans have long counted on the NRA and gun lobby for campaign funds to get elected. The same week of a horrible school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Ted Cruz and several other Texas officials attended a dinner sponsored by the NRA. Cruz, who is no dummy despite his bungling of just about everything he touches, knows that his chances of getting reelected hinge on two things, the gun lobby and the extreme right. Sadly, he is the poster boy for scores of elected officials in Washington.

Special interest groups are also part of the problem. They lie with no consequence. They tell people that the government is trying to “take all your guns” and that there is some greater scheme at play. Wake up and realize special interest groups want one thing, YOUR money. They will do or say anything to get it and I’d argue most of the money lines the pockets of the millionaires who run them. If you take nothing else away from this letter, stop donating to special interest groups. Donate directly to a candidate who shares your values.

Finally, there is the huckster segment. These are folks who will do anything to stay relevant and make money. Rudy Giuliani is a prime example of one of these having trashed his own reputation after being mayor of New York City on 9/11. The worst example of this is Alex Jones who made millions telling people the Newtown (and other calamitous events) were “staged” and fake. He pitched these wild stories on Facebook and YouTube (prior to being banned from both) and built an audience of largely lower educated people who believed his nonsense. He also scares gun owners into thinking there is some “globalist” order that is trying to change the world and take away their guns.

Fear is a great motivator and that is the common thread between all three groups. Unethical people will happily benefit at the expense of many if they are making money. Jones has been doing this for years by scaring people. So have special interest groups. So have politicians who place their election over the good of the country.

All of this has started to accomplish the normalization of mass shootings. “Thoughts and Prayers” are good enough for many. They shouldn’t be good enough for any.

Today, Dec. 14, a call to action is needed. We need serious gun laws. We need to STOP allowing Washington to normalize these horrific shootings. Legislation banning assault guns must happen and must happen quickly. If it doesn’t, we will forever be remembered as a peoples that didn’t care.

John Lyons
West Hartford

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