For Congress to enact meaningful gun legislation in response to the mass shootings that are plaguing America, "some level of profile in courage" will be needed by lawmakers who traditionally have been beholden to the gun lobby.
"Sometimes principle is more important than your political career, but I'm not sure how many people think of it like that who are current members of Congress, unfortunately," said Mike Lawlor, author of Connecticut's 23-year-old red flag law that he estimates has saved thousands of lives since its enactment. "It's just the reality."
Lawlor made his comments on The Lean to the Left Podcast that I co-hosted with legal thriller author Mark M. Bello. That episode is now streaming and will also be streamed on Bello's Justice Counts podcast on June 20. Lawlor is associate professor of Criminal Justice at the University of New Haven, and a nationally recognized expert on criminal justice reform.
"The problem in the Republican Party," Lawlor said, is "fear of retaliation from what they call the base," which is "just getting in the way, and sooner or later they will have to deal with that bigger problem, and guns are just the symptom of it."
GOP: The Price of Freedom
Lawlor's comments comes as a new poll by CBS News and YouGov showed that 44 percent of Republicans believe mass shootings are inevitable in a "free society", while 85 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Independents said mass shootings are preventable "if we really tried."
All of this, of course, follows a string of mass shootings that have prompted Congress to consider various gun control related proposals, including incentives to states to enact red flag laws similar to Connecticut's. However, the CBS/YouGov poll indicates that respondents from both parties believe it is unlikely that Congress will "pass any laws in the next few months that will make significant changes to gun policy."
A total of 66 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of Independents, and 71 percent of Republicans indicated they feel that way and they have good reason. Unfortunately, money talks in Washington, apparently much louder than the anguished cries of children who are being terrorized by a gunman in school or the loved ones of victims shot in a racist attack in a supermarket.
According to the Brady Campaign, the National Rifle Association spent $3.22 million to benefit the political campaigns of senators who oppose gun safety legislation. In 2020, they spent $2.20 million. These senators refuse to support common-sense gun reform, like expanding Brady Background Checks and banning assault weapons. You can find the list of leading recipients of NRA money here.
Supreme Court Decision Awaited
Meanwhile, Lawlor points out in the podcast that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling soon in a New York gun rights case that could expand the scope of protections the Second Amendment affords individual gun owners who want to carry a gun outside of their residents.
According to the Brennan Center, The biggest question in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen may not be whether a majority of justices strike down the state’s century-old handgun licensing requirement but how far that majority goes in signaling that other licensing measures created by government officials are now constitutionally suspect.
"The proliferation of guns in this country could become more extreme depending on what happens, and all we know for sure is that will lead to more and more firearm deaths, suicides, accidents, homicides, and you know at some point, the pain will be unsustainable."
On the podcast, Lawlor details the Connecticut red flag law, how it works, how it has prevented shootings and death, as well as other steps that state has taken to restrict the proliferation of firearms.
Take a listen: