A vigil for the victims of the Las Vegas, Nevada, shooting. Photo: Philadelphia City Council
Opinion

Tim Giago: When are Republicans willing to talk about gun violence in America?





Notes from Indian Country

If not now, when?
By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji – Stands Up For Them)

Many Americans have come to believe that mass shootings are inevitable and therefore there is nothing that can be done to stop them.

At least that is the tone I gathered from listening to several people making comments on National Public Radio following the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Said one, “We know there is going to be another one and then another one and placing more gun control laws on the books isn’t going to help.”

Is that where we are at this point? Since the assumption is that mass shootings are inevitable we should just go about our lives as business as usual? That is not the answer.

Nearly every Republican law maker said the same thing after last Sunday’s massacre at Las Vegas: “Now is not the time to talk about it.” If not now, when?

Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) indicated an openness to discussing the topic but cautioned against acting too quickly. “We want to keep weapons away from individuals who are intending to do harm, but at this point we’ll wait to get all of the facts.”

Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Rep. Kristi Noem turned to spokespeople to express their gutless concerns. Thune’s spokesperson said, “Thune believes there is a time and place for debates about gun laws, but Monday was not the time.” He added that we have to start thinking small. Say what?

Noem’s spokesperson cited Noem’s concern on the ongoing status of the shooting investigation in what boiled down to “This is not the time.”

News reporters across America cited the massacre as the worst in American history and after being admonished for making that false claim changed it to “in modern history.” When does “old history” end and “modern history” begin?

Most news reporters were castigated by Native Americans who informed them about Wounded Knee, December 29, 1890 – 300 Lakota men, women and children slaughtered; Sand Creek, November 29, 1864, 163 Cheyenne and Arapahoe were slaughtered; Bloody Island in California on May 15, 1850, when 200 Pomo slaughtered; or Bear Creek where 493 Shoshone were massacred in Idaho.

The gun lobby led by the National Rifle Association is very powerful and every one of you should find out how much money each of your Congressional delegates receives in campaign funds from the NRA. And since it is members of the Republican Party standing in the way of gun reform the old adage that GOP is an acronym for Greed Over People rings true.

What can Congress do? First of all they can ban the sale of all assault weapons that can be modified to fire bullets like a machine gun. Second they can get something on the books that requires thorough background checks and longer waiting periods to buy guns. Lists of all people with mental illness should be made available to the owners of gun stores and to all law enforcement agencies.

A hunter does not need an assault weapon to shoot a deer. No one wants to take away the rifles or pistols of honest, hardworking Americans. Maybe new laws will never stop mass shootings, but they will definitely make it much harder for someone with the intent to commit a mass shooting to obtain a weapon capable of carrying out the task.

Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, supposedly had no background of mental illness and had a clean record, plus he was quite wealthy and so he did not fit into any of the categories that would have prevented him from buying assault weapons. His background is still under investigation, but somewhere in his head a nut was loose in order for him to commit such a heinous act of violence.

It should not matter what political party you belong to or whether you misinterpret the Second Amendment of the U. S. Constitutions Bill of Rights, something needs to be done, not in the future, but here and now. The people gunned down in Las Vegas were Republicans, Democrats and Independents and they all died needlessly.

And so we ask our Congressional delegation to set aside Party thinking for now and start thinking about your constituents and we mean all of the people you represent, not just the gun lobby. Turn down the NRA’s blood money and start acting like responsible Americans.

The mass killing of Native Americans came to an end because of the outcry of all Americans and because of an outraged Congress. There have been far too many mass shootings over the past few years and something must be done to bring them to an end. If not now, when?

Contact Tim Giago, Oglala Lakota, at najournalist1@gmail.com