in today's New York Times, with the title Looking for America. My wife called it to my attention because it begins with someone I consider a close friend, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy:
“I’m sorry,” said Representative Carolyn McCarthy, her voice breaking. “I’m having a really tough time.”There is more in the article, both from McCarthy, and about the President's reaction.
She’s the former nurse from Long Island who ran for Congress in 1996 as a crusader against gun violence after her husband and son were victims of a mass shooting on a commuter train. On Friday morning, McCarthy said, she began her day by giving an interview to a journalist who was writing a general story about “how victims feel when a tragedy happens.”
“And then 15 minutes later, a tragedy happens.”
I want to offer a few thoughts beyond the column.
If you did not watch MS-NBC yesterday or this morning, you missed my friend Carolyn. She was on with both Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow yesterday, and on all 2 hours with Chris Hayes today.
This is an issue that has consumed her.
She mentioned today that she had yesterday before returning home to NY had a conversation with her staff about her agenda for the next Congress, and they were surprised that she wanted to continue to focus on gun issues because of how little progress she has been able to achieve. SHE told them she could not take another such tragedy, and then the shooting happens yesterday.
The last quote from her in the Collins piece is this:
“I just don’t know what this country’s coming to. I don’t know who we are any more,” she said.And yet, as we heard on Up with Chris Hayes, even as the number of guns in American hands goes up, the percentage of Americans owning guns is going down. What we are seeing is the increase in the size of SOME personal arsenals.
There are others better equipped to discuss gun policy than am I. I have never owned a firearm, and last fired a weapon in 1966 while still in the Marines. I was a better than average shot, but that was at either stationary or moving targets, not under stress, not having someone shooting at me. I wonder how many Americans who own guns have had the training to use them properly in a crisis situation. I wonder why the only countries close to us in the percentage of people owning guns includes Yemen, hardly a model for where gun ownership indicates safety from violence. Yes, Switzerland requires able bodied men to own weapons, LONG GUNS, as part of their militia system. The proliferation of high capacity hand guns does not make our nation safer.
What also does not make us safe is our refusal to have honest discussions about guns.
Yes, some shooters are mentally ill. That is another American problem, that somehow we end most of health care at the neck, treating vision, dental and mental health separately, which means that even many Americans with medical insurance lack coverage for those health issues.
Every country has a sizable contingent of mentally ill citizens. We’re the one that gives them the technological power to play god.. That is how Collins begins the section of her column in which she goes after the rhetoric of our gun culture, a section well worth reading and pondering.
Let me end by simply offering two more snips from Collins, ending as she ends her column.
We have come to regard ourselves — and the world has come to regard us — as a country that’s so gun happy that the right to traffic freely in the most obscene quantities of weapons is regarded as far more precious than an American’s right to health care or a good education.
We have to make ourselves better. Otherwise, the story from Connecticut is too unspeakable to bear.
On Friday, the president said: “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
Time passes. And here we are.