The kids in the media … nationally and at home … are falling all over themselves about two things these days in the wake of the Tucson, AZ killings: whether political rhetoric will become more tolerant and what sorts of gun control efforts we’ll see in Congress.

At the risk of putting pins in their balloons, my answers are (a) no and (b) none which are successful. That about says it.

Exhibit “A” on the reduced rhetoric business: Maine GOP Gov. Paul LePage who decided this week … after the shootings … to skip an NAACP gathering to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. When the NAACP expressed disappointment, LePage had a quick on-camera response: “They can kiss my ass.”

I could waste a lot of electronic “ink” here with other exhibits of such speech in just the last seven days but I won’t. The only reason we haven’t heard more is because Congress hasn’t been in session for that period of time. They’ll be back Monday. Start listening. Oh, and don’t forget hate radio which is exhibits “B” through “ZZZ.”

Exhibit “A” for no gun control efforts: House Speaker Boehner’s refusal to introduce a bill banning extended ammunition clips in the hands of private citizens. Even some leaders of the NRA, who’ve eliminated prior members of Congress for even having thoughts on the subject of gun control, said they wouldn’t oppose the idea. But it won’t see the light of day. Count on it.

Exhibit “B” on guns: several states have legislators scrambling to introduce more access to them. South Carolina has one in the hopper already to expand concealed access and ‘open carry.’ Arizona, the state where all the killing occurred, allows ‘open carry’ already and guns in bars. Anyone think there’ll be successful repealers in the legislature there this year?

Members of Congress … and in many legislatures … live in fear of the NRA discontinuing their employment. They aren’t about to step on the toes that are on feet that walk NRA voters to the polls.

To me, the irony here is the many, many times NRA leadership has failed to grasp opportunities to greatly improve the image of that organization without backing away from its tenets. Present and past leaders have been presented with dozens of golden moments to maintain their resistance to serious gun control while showing a more human side to the issue. And the organization.

Take Arizona, for example. Even as victims are healing, the NRA could step up and formally adopt a position statement saying “While law enforcement personnel need extended ammo clips, we see no need for them in the hands of private citizens. The ammo capacities from the factory are just fine.” No gun control slippage there.

If you harbor feelings the NRA is an intransigent, hard-edged group, blind to reason and common sense … as I do … wouldn’t you say to yourself, “Now that seems very reasonable.” I would.

How about when the ban on automatic weapons came up for renewal some years back but efforts to renew it failed? Police officers, especially in large cities, said they come up against Uzzi’s and Tech-9’s routinely; that gangs and other criminal groups have them outgunned with automatic weapons.

Suppose, while renewing its pledge of Second Amendment protection, the NRA said “There is no sporting or target reason for automatic weapons in the hands of private citizens and the ban should be made permanent.” Wouldn’t the rest of us have felt a little better about the organization and not been so wary next time the issue of guns came up politically? I would.

When the president of Mexico said drug cartels in his country get most of their machine guns and other automatics from America and held up proof, what if the NRA had said “That’s wrong” instead of “That’s their problem” which the leadership said at the time? Wouldn’t you have said “Way to go, NRA?” I would.

No, Democrat and Republican, too many members of Congress check their daily score sheet compiled by the NRA to see that they’re still near 100. One of the Texas hardliners … whose I.Q. isn’t nearly that high … already has a bill to arm members of Congress. Others of similar small mind are taking crayon-to-paper to follow suit.

Much as we common folk would like it, rhetoric will continue hot and … in some places like hate radio … heavy. And legitimate efforts to keep guns from the irresponsible or incapacitated will, themselves, be gunned down. We have crossed a line on these issues that’s too hard for carriers of both affronts to society to step back across.

The overheated rhetoric draws attention. And ignoring the gun problem is rewarded with dollars and votes. Much as most of would like to have changes in both instances, as Walter Cronkite used to say, “That’s the way it is.”

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