Back-to-school shopping has taken a grim turn this year, with the mass killings in El Paso and Dayton reminding parents of the fundamental danger of sending their kids to school. Bullet-proof backpacks, “emblazoned with Disney princesses and Avengers superheroes,” are a hot item, as are anti-ballistic three-ring binders and clipboards and puffy vests and chair cushions and whiteboards. Steve Naremore, founder of TuffyPacks, which makes bullet-proof inserts for backpacks, laments, “Here’s our demographic: parents with kids. […] It’s a real morbid niche.”
This living nightmare for American families rests on one man’s shoulders. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who likes to call himself the “Grim Reaper” of House legislation, could end this. But he continues his obscene partnership with the NRA, and what the NRA wants from Congress, it gets.
That’s thanks to the gross amounts of money flowing exclusively to Republicans every election cycle from the NRA—$54 million in 2016 alone. It’s a parasitic relationship, as retired federal prosecutor Michael J. Stern writes. “The NRA is a wealthy organization whose existence depends on the unbridled proliferation of guns; Members of Congress have an endless need for money to maintain their political power because they are always preparing for—or actually in—an election cycle.”
So while McConnell mouths words about intending to take on guns when Congress reconvenes, when he supposedly tells Trump that he’s open to background checks and red flag laws, his staff is behind the scenes admitting, “Not really.” And the NRA’s president, Wayne LaPierre, conveniently steps in to reinforce the idea that anything Democrats want to do wouldn’t make a difference, anyway. “The inconvenient truth is this: the proposals being discussed by many would not have prevented the horrific tragedies in El Paso and Dayton,” said LaPierre. “Worse, they would make millions of law abiding Americans less safe and less able to defend themselves and their loved ones.”
So McConnell, in partnership with the NRA, is falling back on the reliable strategies of running out the clock until the furor subsides, then manipulating the legislation process until whatever the Senate considers is so watered-down or poisonous that even Democrats wouldn’t be able to support it.
Because that’s what he does.