Gun Lobby has Set the Stage for Another Columbine

| by Freedom States Alliance
Ten years after the Columbine massacre on April 20, 1999, it is painfully clear that the United States squandered the opportunity in the last decade to enact policies to reduce and prevent gun violence. More chilling is that the United States continues to slide into a dangerous spiral: unable to confront the powerful interests of the gun lobby and industry that is holding the American government hostage.

Gun violence prevention advocates say, however, that solutions in the short and long term are still immediately available to right this ship, and called for bold leadership in Congress and the White House to lead the fight. For example, the Obama administration should enforce the import ban on assault weapons and press Congress to remove the Tiahrt restrictions that impede ATF's ability to stop illegal gun trafficking, especially weapons flowing into Mexico to arm the drug cartels.

On April 20, 1999, two high school students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, shocked the world with their grisly school massacre in Littleton, Colorado where they killed 12 students and one teacher, and wounded 23 others before killing themselves. At the time, it was the deadliest school shooting in history.

Only eight years later, Columbine was dwarfed by the sheer carnage of the Virginia Tech massacre that killed 32 students and professors and wounded 17 others. In just the last 30 days, rampage shootings have resulted in the deaths of 13 people in Binghamton, New York; law enforcement officers gunned down in Oakland and Pittsburgh with assault weapons; and a massacre at a nursing home in North Carolina that killed 8 elderly patients.

Over the last ten years, and despite overwhelming support from the American people to enact stronger gun laws, the United States has lost significant ground to confront our nation's gun crisis.

America's "lost decade" since the Columbine tragedy can be summed up as an appalling record of failed leadership, squandered opportunities, blind ideology, and raw intimidation and power by the gun lobby and industry.

Days after the Columbine tragedy, a grieving nation focused on the "gun show loophole," in hopes of passing federal legislation to address secondary, and unregulated, gun sales. But Congressman Tom Delay, the Republican Majority Leader cynically said, "This is a pro-gun House."

Such callousness in response to an American tragedy foretold of a chilling era to come. The gun lobby cemented its power in the Bush administration, and was able to stifle reform. At best, only half-hearted measures that barely chip away at the problem were proposed. Continuing school and workplace shootings were framed as "nothing can be done" to stop the madness and the debate was shifted from the larger problem of easy access to guns to the individual shooters themselves. A feeling of hopelessness to stop what seemed like an insurmountable problem ensued and a gross malaise of apathy and denial set in.

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