Helpless Today, Determined Tomorrow
After the carnage in Vegas, Thune talked to NBC's Hallie Jackson. Telling her that "we'll look at the facts when we get them all in here," Thune went on to say "it's an open society. And when somebody does what he wants to do--it's going to be hard to prevent anything. I think people are going to have to take steps in their own lives to take precautions . . . As somebody said--get small." In other words, we're virtually helpless to stop mass shooters, so people need to get small--as if that advice would have done any good to the targets in Vegas and Sutherland, Texas, who were shot randomly and en masse. As to waiting for the facts to get in, it's been a month since the freakout in Vegas and the bump stocks that turned the shooter's semi-automatic into a virtual machine gun are now back on sale. Any steps at regulating or banning them by Congress have gone nowhere, with the National Rifle Association calling bills to ban them "intentionally overreaching."
Having fired countless bursts of automatic fire from my M-16 when I was a Marine in Vietnam, I'd call Congressional apathy toward banning these devices intentionally indifferent and appallingly apathetic. I know during his tenure in Congress that our Senator Thune received $181 thousand from gun lobbyists through the 2016 election cycle, but I think he can keep the gun lobby happy and do something to regulate bump stocks at the same time.
Meanwhile on another front in the war against mass murderers, terrorism, Thune abandoned his fatalistic "hard to prevent" rhetoric and called for immediate congressional action. Just a day after that ISIS-inspired truck massacre in New York City last week, Thune said of terrorists, "They're always coming up with new ways to be lethal. And we've got to do everything we can to stop them." We're all with you on that, Senator, but I wonder why your boldness and determination applies to one scenario but not another.
Scientific American magazine looked at this a month ago. It calculated that since 1970 fewer than 100 Americans a year (and that average includes the 3,000 killed on 9/11) are killed by terrorists. 11,000 Americans are murdered by perps using firearms (another 20,000 die by self-inflicted gunfire) every year. Like anybody with a lick of sense and some serious experience with firearms, I know that gun control has its limits. I also know that the war on terrorists, both domestic and foreign, has its limits. But to shrug one off with a response as feeble as "it's going to be hard to prevent anything" while at the same time vowing "to do everything we can" to keep the other in check is a disheartening contrast of commitments. Why isn't Thune troubled by this?