Bernie Sanders, Oliver North are both right about school gun violence

Address NRA intransigence with your vote in November

The Washington Post headline sums up one position: “Oliver North, incoming NRA chief, blames school shootings on ‘culture of violence’.”

Via NBC News, Bernie Sanders expresses another: “Bernie Sanders lashes out at Congress over gun control after Santa Fe, Texas, shooting…The Vermont senator said legislators will need to stand up to the NRA to get something done…An exasperated Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday blasted Congress after a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, killed 10 students and teachers two days earlier. The Vermont senator blamed lawmakers for failing to act on gun control, saying they are intimidated by the National Rifle Association…When asked on ‘Meet The Press’ if the Senate had done enough to prevent school shootings, Sanders said: ‘Of course not.”…’But it’s like every other issue,’ Sanders said, ‘the American people are united overwhelmingly — gun owners, non-gun owners — on common sense gun safety legislation. Expand background checks, do away with the gun show loophole.’”

Who’s right? They both are. There’s no question that a culture of violence fuels school shootings. At the same time, taking meaningful steps to begin curbing the threat is also critical.

It’s time to vote for people who will support gun controls, and vote out those who won’t. The mid-terms are five months away, folks. We the People can pull the trigger to get meaningful gun control legislation and thwart the NRA’s continuing intransigence about the issue. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Connect with elected officials at local, state and federal levels up for re-election in the fall, and request a written, public pledge to work for legislative change and executive support. This can be done with both candidates you do and don’t support, and regardless of their previous position on the matter. (While Republicans are much more likely to kowtow to the NRA, there also are Democrats in the mix. Get informed, and vote accordingly.) If you’re so inclined, spell out exactly what you want done and request a copy returned with signature.Also ask for public disclosure of this pledge so it’s on the record with “the world.” This won’t ensure success, but it will establish accountability. If you’re not inclined to develop the position/verbiage yourself, ask official(s) to write something and send it back signed. This actually can be a good way to gauge interest and true support versus political grandstanding. If they don’t respond and/or come back with something vague or tepid, you either can follow up with them…or just vote them out.
  2. Share your experiences during this process with your social media network and in-person with friends, family, colleagues, and co-workers. Do your part to spread the word about who is on board or not with important gun controls. This doesn’t have to be laborious; just do your part to help let the world know about these candidates’ positions on this vital issue.
  3. Encourage the media to ask candidates to show their hands when being interviewed. They can ask tough questions and ask for a public, written pledge and support—if willing to look past their “infotainment” laden newscasts, do some hardball reporting, and truly act as the public watchdogs they’re supposed to be.

Will expanded gun controls solve the problem? Of course not. It’s much deeper than the use of the weapons themselves. It’s about our cultural and social dysfunction that helps create gun-toting, murder-seeking people. We’ve got to start changing that mindset—and once again that comes back to “We the People.” These murdering misfits are not the cause of the problem; they’re the reflection of it.

We’re not going to be able to accomplish this in one broad stroke—but we gotta start somewhere. Instead of arming school personnel, disarm the prospective perps one step at a time. Meaningful legislation is a good first step.

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Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. AKA The Happy Curmudgeon, Mark has voted for Democrats, Republicans and a Libertarian in presidential elections going back 30 years. As the owner of a 34-year-old, Denver-based marketing communications firm, he is a political malcontent who often quips support for “Thunder the Wonder Puppy” as a presidential candidate. (Too bad George Carlin is no longer among us to make a run—although he likely would have known better.)

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