Monday, September 23, 2013

The New Normal

This weekend, while the Emmys rolled, and football teams did too, the news rolled on too, both in America and around the world. Not surprisingly, much of the depth of that news was missed by the major television news organizations, as is too often the case these days.

Sure, the TV news channels all covered the impending federal government shutdown that Congressional Republicans will be solely responsible for, should it occur. Many of them also covered the horrible terrorist attack at a retail shopping mall in Kenya - the kind of terrorist attack many Americans still fear here.  However, other than a wholly biased pro-gun segment on NBC's Meet The Press with the NRA's Wayne LaPierre, one of the most important events of last week was only really touched on in cliches on most TV "news" this weekend.

President Obama on Sunday, at the Memorial Service for the twelve Americans murdered at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC a week ago today, had to once again do both his job and the job our American news media should have been doing this weekend.

As the President addressed the memorial service, he asked them, and the nation, to not let these kinds of shootings become the new normal. He also addressed our collective reactions too - most notably, legislators who spout promises to do something, then effectively dump dead legislation as a weak memorial to the recently murdered.

"I fear there's a creeping resignation that this is somehow the new normal," President Obama said at the memorial service on Sunday. Events like the mass shooting last week, "ought to obsess us, it ought to lead to some sort of transformation." Indeed, the President even asked the question no member of the news seems to have had the courage to ask.

"The question is do we care enough," to actually DO something, the President asked.

As we've noted on these pages previously, it isn't as though most Americans don't want the kind of sensible, moderate gun safety reforms President Obama has called for again and again. As a poll by noted conservative and past NRA supporter Frank Luntz confirmed last year, nearly ninety percent of non-NRA gun owners, and seventy-four percent of NRA member gun owners do support requiring comprehensive background checks on ALL gun sales.

In fact, as recently recalled Colorado state senator Angela Giron pointed out in the Washington Post over the weekend, the kind of background checks most Americans want were implemented earlier this year in Colorado - and have already denied 28 criminals in her own state who might otherwise have purchased a gun.

Nationwide, however, our gun safety laws are still too open and incomplete.

As the details behind last week's Navy Yard shooter showed, that incomplete system partially worked to stop the Navy Yard shooter from getting an assault rifle. Our mental health care system also partially treated him. 'Partially' was obviously not good enough, though - something we've always said 'partially' never will be.

Nearly a year ago, in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shootings, we outlined five major components of gun violence, and noted that America must do better on all of them. For each of those components to work, they must interact with one another efficaciously - and each must also work thoroughly on its own.

While the President is correct, that we must do something, we also must make sure what we do in the service of gun safety is done completely, properly, and fully - in spite of those Congress members who are perpetually beholden to the gun manufacturer's lobby.

If we simply throw up more ineffectual gun laws, the new normal won't be just that we should still expect more mass shooting deaths in America. It will be that we'll have accepted half-assing everything in America is okay.

It's not.

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