ROBINSON: Unfinished business on nation's agenda
Published: Monday, February 4, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 4, 2013 at 4:44 p.m.
The brave students, in khakis and white polo shirts, survived the unspeakable massacre in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 of their schoolmates dead, riddled with bullets from an assault rifle fired by a madman. Hudson, the acclaimed recording artist and Oscar-winning actress, lost her mother, brother and nephew to Chicago's endemic gun violence in 2008 when a troubled relative went on a murderous rampage; she had to identify all three bodies at the morgue.
The performance brought tears to the eyes of some of the players — and, surely, many television viewers. It was a reminder that life goes on, but also that we must not lose sight of unfinished business: reducing the awful toll that barely regulated, insufficiently monitored commerce in powerful weapons takes on innocent victims, day after day after day.
Despite the best efforts of the National Rifle Association and like-minded groups to make sure this business remains unfinished, reducing gun violence remains stubbornly high on the nation's agenda.
This is partly due to the ravings of Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president and spokesman, who almost single-handedly, or single-mouthedly, is making the pro-gun argument sound even crazier and more irresponsible than it is. And that's saying something.
On Sunday, LaPierre treated viewers of
The president's daughters
In Senate hearings last week, LaPierre portrayed life in the United States as one long horror movie.
With so many members of Congress already bought and paid for, it's understandable that the NRA would feel a measure of confidence. But I believe the pro-gun lobby is seriously overplaying its hand, and that the wind has shifted.
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords also testified at last week's hearings; she spoke only briefly, because it is still difficult for her to form words after being shot in the head two years ago. The gunman was wielding a semiautomatic pistol with a 33-round magazine. No one can convince her that if we lived in the world the NRA would like to see — in which everyone is armed to the teeth with military-style guns and ammo — we would be safer. Nor can anyone convince the children of Newtown. Or Jennifer Hudson's family.
The NRA is powerful but not omnipotent. Polls show that Americans favor sensible gun control; if Obama and other proponents of sanity keep the issue alive, we can achieve it. From sea to shining sea.
Eugene Robinson is a columnist for the Washington Post.