Immediately following the reports of the tragic shooting in Aurora, The Onion responded in characteristically pithy and prescient fashion: "Sadly, Nation Knows Exactly How Colorado Shooting's Aftermath Will Play Out." This feeling of helplessness is now being advanced by the media, with one law professor telling the Times, “The gun prohibition people tried to use Gabrielle Giffords and the Trayvon Martin case to get their cause going again, and weren’t particularly successful with that." Another expert tells Reuters, "We're in the summer before a presidential election and I really don't foresee any serious discussion of gun control." The actual lede for the AP's story is, "Gun control advocates sputter at their own impotence." Welcome to America in 2012, where we can watch the apathy regarding own apathy unfold in slow-motion.
There are a handful of politicians who are ramping up their attacks on the laws that allowed shooter to reportedly use an assault weapon and high-volume magazines to kill 12 and injure 59 people at a midnight screening of The Dark Night Rises. "If reports are correct and a high-capacity gun magazine was used to commit these awful murders, Senator Lautenberg will absolutely renew his effort to limit the availability of this dangerous firearm attachment," the senator's flack told HuffPo. On the radio and on CBS, Mayor Bloomberg called out President Obama and Mitt Romney for issuing platitudes rather than actual solutions.
But as the Reuters report points out, the gun lobby dwarfs their opponents in fundraising and inspiring fear in lawmakers. In 2010 the NRA pulled in $253 million, while the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the largest and oldest gun control group in America, raised $5.9 million. Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group run by Mayor Bloomberg's top policy aide, has a budget of $4 million. Perhaps as a result of the gun lobby's domination of both sides of the political aisle, polling has shown that support for gun control has dropped dramatically since 1990.
“I talk to a lot of members [on gun-control bills] and [they say] ‘Carolyn, if it comes up on the floor, I’ll vote for you,’” New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed in a 1993 LIRR shooting, told Politico. “But are they going to put [their] name on the bill? No.”
If there's a glimmer of hope that the script may deviate from The Onion's, the editorial boards of both of New York's top tabloids agree in principle today: some measure of gun control should be enacted. And as Capital New York notes, gun control advocates may benefit even more from Michael Bloomberg's bank account when he leaves office.
"This is where members of Congress need to start to get a spine," Congresswoman McCarthy says. And until they do the painfully true Onion headlines will keep coming: "NRA: 'Please Try To Remember All The Wonderful Things Guns Do For Us Every Day.' "