The New York Times observed after the Colorado shooting massacre:
"At a moment when the country needs resolve and fearlessness to reduce the affliction of gun violence that kills more than 80 people a day, both presidential candidates have kicked away the opportunity for leadership. On Wednesday, reacting to the mass murder in Colorado last week, Mitt Romney and President Obama paid lip service to the problem but ducked when the chance arose to stand up for their former principles."
Why? Politics. Pure, self-interested politics. Of the 14 battleground states that will sway the 2012 election, 13 have gun ownership rates higher than 30% of their populations. And four of the crucial states... Wisconsin, North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa... have individual gun ownership rates higher than 40%. (See data at Gun Owners as a Percentage of Each State's Population.)
Romney and Obama dread uttering anything but bland platitudes, once maybe, before the election for fear of losing votes. Doing the right thing be damned...
Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, one of the few U.S. senators who openly champions stricter gun control and anti-violence laws, is refusing to pull his gun control amendment from the cybersecurity bill now under debate. The Huffington Post reports:
"'I'm not prepared to do that,' Lautenberg told The Huffington Post. 'We want to connect safety with reality. And the reality is that we lose more people every year to gun murder than we do in the military ... It is ridiculous.' Lautenberg said his amendment 'belongs in a security measure' like the cybersecurity bill and said he plans to keep pushing it until it gets heard on the Senate floor."
And Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, an author of the ten-year Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 that President Bush and Republicans allowed to expire, lamented last week in anSan Francisco Chronicle op-ed:
"We should be outraged by how easy it is for the perpetrators of these horrific crimes to purchase powerful weapons. As a nation, it's time we engage in a sane conversation about the proliferation of guns in our society.
"Let me be clear: If an individual wants to purchase a weapon for hunting or self-defense, I support that right. But a semiautomatic assault rifle with a 100-round ammo drum - or a handgun with a 30-round magazine like the one used to shoot former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona - has but one purpose: to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible.
"I challenge anyone who claims that prohibiting the purchase of military style assault weapons infringes on American freedoms. No sane person would argue that an individual should be free to own a nuclear weapon - we set limits and we abide by them. And we need to set limits on assault rifles."
Congressional Republicans and a few Democrats, though, are deeply indebted to donations from the National Rifle Association, and thus, routinely support the NRA agenda against all gun control laws. Congress has little political will to legislate gun ownership laws... to hell with public safety from terrorism.
But without presidential leadership, all anti-gun terrorism plans of Senators Lautenberg and Feinstein to safeguard the American public from gun violence will come to naught.
In the face of recent horrific tragedies from gun-related terrorism, I expected both President Obama and Mitt Romney to do the obviously right thing to protect our country: to stand-up and lead by taking real action, possibly jointly, in this tinderbox time of extraordinarily violent danger to Americans at work, at play, at worship.
I agree with the Times that both Obama and Romney have cowered from any hint of leadership in this terrible time of American pain and need for basic protection from terrorism.
Clearly, homeland security and keeping Americans safe in their homes and communities are not priorities of either the 2012 Democratic or Republican presidential contenders.
See Pros & Cons of Gun Ownership & Use Laws for Individuals for more information on the issue.