That nothing has changed in terms of federal legislation six months after the Newtown, Connecticut gun massacre testifies to the disgrace that is Washington D.C. It doesn't mean, however, that nothing has changed. Those who are fed up with uniquely American gun violence, and they comprise a majority, are mobilized, and they are not going away.
A remembrance event was held in Newtown Friday to mark the six-month anniversary of the shootings that claimed the lives of 20 school children and the six adults who died trying to protect them. The event went beyond Newtown, however, as the names of more than 5,000 Americans killed by guns since Newtown were read aloud. The group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which is emerging as an effective counterpoint to the National Rifle Association, organized events in 10 states urging tougher gun control measures and launched a bus tour to 25 states to make that case over the summer.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns represents the elected officials, police officers and other law enforcement authorities who must confront the armed criminals, hotheads and lunatics who terrorize the nation. They have the truth on their side. The NRA is effective at misrepresenting gun control legislation, as it did with the background checks bill that failed to pass the Senate even with a majority of votes, at riling up the passionate minority that thinks President Obama and the United Nations are coming for their guns, and at spinning the words of a Second Amendment that begins with a reference to regulation.
Connecticut and New York State have passed tough new gun control laws since Newtown that pose no threat to law-abiding citizens. It is guns, not gun laws, that law-abiding citizens should fear. Ideally, Massachusetts, which has good gun laws in place, will pass tougher ones in the months ahead. There has been progress, just not at the critically important federal level.
"Newtown hit me hard. I had to do something about it," said Suzanne Conway, a mother of four who attended a rally against gun violence in Charlotte, North Carolina Friday. "People are not going to stop fighting." People can't stop fighting. As America was painfully reminded six months ago, the stakes are too high.