The New York Daily News today ran a big headline on its front page surrounded by school pictures of the 20 children killed Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn. See it <a href="http://bit.ly/2e9gcO" target="_blank">here</a>.
"Shame on U.S.," said the headline, with "U.S." colored as the American flag.
The sub-headline reported: "Assault-weapons bill is dead."
No one ever accused the Daily News of being too subtle. But the sentiment on its Page 1 pretty much reflected the way I had felt when I heard Sen. Dianne Feinstein throw in the towel on her attempts to get the U.S. Senate to back a new ban on assault weapons.
Shame on them, I thought, referring to the 100 men and women who represent all of us. Write this one up in the next edition of Profiles in Spinelessness.
After Adam Lanza killed his mother, stole her semi-automatic rifle and massacred the students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School, politicians far and wide vowed that the time had come to address gun violence in America. President Barack Obama said, on the day of the shootings: "We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
But politics and guns cannot be separated any more than violence and guns. The National Rifle Association immediately responded by saying there should be more guns in schools, not fewer. As the rhetoric on both sides ratcheted up, so did gun sales as buyers anticipated new rules.
But those buyers may have jumped the gun. Apparently, there will be no ban on assault-style weapons, at least not a federal ban. California already has some restrictions. New York passed new restrictions in direct response to the Newtown shootings, as did Colorado. But plenty of guns are still available.
As they would be even if Feinstein's bill had passed. But, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, not even 40 members of the Senate would have supported a new assault-weapons ban, and it would take 60 to impose it.
Well, good for the 40, but shame on the rest. It has taken less than three months for politics to overshadow the deaths of 20 school children in Newtown.
That shouldn't be too surprising. Politics is the lingua franca of Congress, and those who would limit Americans' choices of death-dealing firearms risk the wrath and the money of the NRA and other gun-rights advocates. So they caved like a house of bullet-riddled cards on the assault-weapons bill.
Now we'll see how they deal with universal background checks, limits on the size of ammunition magazines and other provisions on the table in an attempt to reduce gun violence.
As they contemplate those issues, let's hope that in the back of their minds the image of the NRA in the next election won't loom larger than the images of those 20 children from last December.
Chris Coursey's blog offers a community commentary and forum, from issues of the day to the ingredients of life in Sonoma County.