If, as expected, Congress refuses once again to do anything about the country's outrageous gun problem, don't blame Wisconsin's Second District Congressman, Mark Pocan.
He's been pressuring his colleagues to do something — anything — to address what is our national embarrassment: the killing and wounding of tens of thousands of mostly innocent people by firearms every single year.
In an effort to get Congress to act, Pocan helped organize a 178-member sit-in on the House floor after the shooting spree in Las Vegas that killed a record 58 people, but still no vote was scheduled. Incredibly, even a proposal to ban the so-called bump stocks that allowed the Vegas shooter to turn an assault rifle into a machine gun-like weapon is languishing. And House Speaker Paul Ryan has declined to offer any help to his fellow Wisconsin congressman, like at least scheduling a vote.
Pocan expressed his frustration while in Madison last week. He commented that once again, it appears Congress will hold a moment of silence to honor the dead and then, once again, do absolutely nothing.
He expressed the same frustration last year after the slaughter in an Orlando, Fla., gay nightclub mass shooting that killed 49, a record until the Las Vegas massacre. People across the country urged action of some kind — universal background checks, longer waiting periods, a limit on the size of magazines.
"As a member of Congress, I contemplated these thoughts as well, ultimately coming to the conclusion that Congress won't do a thing about any of these issues again," he said at the time. "Unfortunately, this body is too chicken to address the epidemic of military-style assault weapons because that would upset the gun manufacturers and special interests."
All this despite the fact that 90 percent of Americans agree we need to enact some common sense legislation. One of the most sensible pleas I saw after Vegas came from a Navy veteran — pleas that, like everything else, will wind up in the trash can in homage to the NRA and others who make big bucks off our unrestrained gun culture.
In a USA Today column, Shawn VanDiver, a 12-year Navy veteran, urged Congress to enact gun laws that do one simple thing: Make us as safe as our military.
That includes background checks, just like required in the military, recurring every five years.
Next, put limits on the capacity of magazines, a requirement that would at least make shooters stop to reload before firing off 50-60 rounds. And, for sure, outlaw the sale of bump stocks and other devices that turn semi-automatics into automatics.
What also ought to happen is that congressional Republicans rescind their nonsensical ban on allowing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study gun violence in the U.S. and determine whether it has become a national health problem.
Despite the Mark Pocans of the world and the majority of Americans, who know we need to get our gun culture under control, all the suggestions and ideas will be allowed to whither and die.
Like Pocan says, Congress won't do anything until the next mass shooting, when once again it will pause for a moment of silence.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DaveZweifel
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