Editorial: ‘Warning signs’? How about at the point of purchase?

Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images: People visit memorials for victims of the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school, in the city of Uvalde Town Square.

Column By John Young

As Donald Trump butchered the names of the 21 Uvalde dead, a ghoulish gong chimed for each.

That’s not what was heard by those he addressed at the National Rifle Association convention in Houston.

Each gong was a “ka-ching.”

“Ka-ching” for gun sales to come, for appliances of death to fly off shelves, for profits to swell. They always do after a major mass shooting, you know.

So, too, with campaign funds.

Trump got a standing O. Ted Cruz, too. That’s some courage. A group pays you gobs of campaign stash to do something. You do it. People stand, applaud, and donate more.

This is a simple transaction.

Transactions – riches exchanged for the power to kill – are what this is all about, not the Constitution. The gun lobby’s (and the GOP’s) interpretation of the Second Amendment, said Chief Justice Warren Burger, a Republican appointee, was “one of the biggest pieces of fraud on the American people by special interest groups.”

Recently Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted to chide Texans at figures showing California tops in gun sales and Texas No. 2.

Let’s keep that hardware flowing. The better to fund our campaigns.

“Arm teachers,” said Cruz and fellow NRA marionettes. Texas has allowed this for some time. Few teachers are willing. All of them should be affronted that they are asked to do what Ted Cruz won’t – step forward and do something to save lives.

What a high-caliber canard from the Thoughts and Prayers Caucus.

“Arm teachers” ignores the other venues where heavily armed and armored individuals have laid innocents low with weapons of war – which is just about anywhere.

Except at NRA pow-wows – no guns allowed there.

‘Warning signs” are things we contemplate, and about which news services report, when things like this happen. Mostly we read about messages on social media from young maniacal males telegraphing their deeds. Rarely do they make it a secret.

Everyone should take those words seriously. But the most acute “warning sign” is when that young man plunks down money for an assault weapon, a truckload of ammo, and tactical gear.

Whoever sells it to him has blood on his hands.

The Constitution does not convey the right of anyone to buy any weapon imaginable. The assault weapons ban that a Republican majority in Congress allowed to lapse in 2004 was upheld by the courts. “To bear arms” doesn’t mean “any and all arms.”

Those who say such restrictions don’t do a thing are ignorant of the facts.

In the first four and half years of that ban on the sale and importation of specified weapons, signed by President Clinton in 1994, the nation had no – zero – mass shootings.

The fact that so many AR and AK weapons are in circulation should be noted as wholly irrelevant. The objective should be to put up official roadblocks at every step and start to curb their rush into human hands.

As to another canard – that there’s no such thing as an “assault weapon” – the answer should be: An assault weapon is whatever we, the people, say it is.

Similar logic should apply to high-capacity magazines. How much is too much firepower? It should be what we, the people, deem it to be.

The National Rifle Association should not write our laws. Those are our laws. This land is our land.

Gun violence is the greatest crisis this country has ever faced. Last year alone 17,555 Americans died at the end of a gun.

That toll being just shy of six 9/11 catastrophes, we should have precautions that are six times as stringent.

That would mean a ban on the sale of assault weapons, universal background checks, FBI probes for social media threats, or the purchase of excessive ammunition or Kevlar vests. And that should just be the beginning.

At the NRA meeting, (“No time to politicize these things”) Trump ended his purely political appeal to friends and donors with what one report called a “cha-cha dance.”

So solemn, so respectful in the face of tragedy. But then, the media had misreported. He was actually doing the “ka-ching” dance.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author.

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