Another mass murder by gunfire, another paralyzed response from our political class: They’re shooting blanks again in Washington.
Donald Trump blames “pure evil,” which is his way of saying there’s nothing anyone can do to try and stop it. On Capitol Hill, the only thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on is that – maybe, maybe – a device called a bump stock, which can turn a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle into a fully automatic machine gun, might be regulated somehow. Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock had a dozen of those in his hotel room.
But regulated how? When? And with what gaping loopholes? Even those basic questions have quickly devolved into the usual platitude that it’s far too soon to take any practical steps. There is never a right time, it seems, to save lives from gun violence, certainly not when the whole nation is riveted to the latest massacre.
The debate never changes, only the names and the geography.
This time, for reasons unknown, a 64-year-old professional gambler fatally shot 58 country music fans on the Las Vegas strip, injuring more than 500 others in a 10-minute burst of bump-stock fire. Next week or next month, it will be someone and somewhere else.
In dumbed-down Washington, the debate is instantly personified as Gabby Giffords versus Steve Scalise, two lawmakers who are themselves victims of horrible gun violence. One being an Arizona Democrat, the other a Louisiana Republican, of course they can’t agree on anything, despite their similarly grievous experiences. Giffords was shot in 2011 while meeting with constituents outside a Tucson supermarket. Scalise was shot in Virginia on June 14 when a gunman opened fire on a congressional baseball team.
Since leaving Congress in 2012, Giffords has dedicated her life to promoting common-sense gun regulation. She’d better not expect any help from Steve Scalise. He went on “Meet the Press” on Sunday to announce he is still opposed to new gun laws of any sort. “They only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to own a gun,” he declared.
Asked by host Chuck Todd if he believes the Second Amendment right to bear arms is “unlimited,” the wounded congressman didn’t hesitate a second.
“It is,” he answered. “It is.”
Metro columnist Ellis Henican is the best-selling author of a dozen books including the upcoming “Trumpitude: The Secret Confessions of Donald's Brain.” He is on Twitter @henican.