Ed Stack, CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, can speak from a position of authority when he calls Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a coward on guns. The Parkland shooting was a personal blow to Stack when he learned that one of his stores sold a rifle to the shooter, though it was not used in the massacre.
“When that happened, I said, ‘This system is broken,'” Stack said in a recent interview. “This kid should never have been able to buy a gun.'” So he stopped selling AR-15 rifles. But he didn’t just stop selling them: His company destroyed the $5 million worth of guns it had taken off the shelves to prevent them ending up “back out on the street.” So when he says we need the kind of expanded background checks that a House bill that passed eight months ago contains, he speaks with moral authority.
It’s the same moral authority he has when he questions why McConnell won’t bring it to the floor. “I wish he’d have the guts to bring it to a vote,” he said. “I don’t know how you can cerebrally think about guns and say, ‘Yeah, we don’t need to have a background check. It’s OK,'” Stack said. “Basically, anybody who’s old enough can buy a gun. … It’s not a political hot button any longer. I don’t know what McConnell’s afraid of.”
McConnell doesn’t think that way. He’s not sitting in his office or in his lovely home, watching news report after news report of people being massacred and thinking, “I could fix that.” He’s thinking about not giving Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats a win. He’s thinking about protecting the members of his extremist conference from the even more extreme NRA and the shrinking but vociferous pro-gun base of his party. The gun deaths of tens of thousands of Americans on his watch seemingly don’t register. It’s not about individual American lives for McConnell: It’s about personal political power and rigging the system—especially the federal judiciary—so he can keep it.
Thus far, he’s been able to do so because he can use the news cycle and the passage of time to distract the public and ensure a loss of momentum. Good for Stack for not letting McConnell get away with it this time.