The Need to Do Something Big
President Biden says assault weapons must be banned. A major veterans group insists Fox News must be banned, too.
President Joe Biden did not go to Monterey Park, California, this week to offer thoughts and prayers. He was there to tell families who’ve suffered the horrors of the mass shooting in January that killed 11 human beings and injured nine others that he is motivated to do more. “Do something big,” he insisted.
He expressed his determination to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, even though he knows he’s dealing with a Republican-led House that has no interest in questioning the 2nd Amendment and the ability of their voters to buy and use these deadly devices. Given the scale of death and destruction that can seem insurmountable in a country with more than 400 million guns, one can imagine there’s nothing that will turn the tide.
But Biden came to Monterey Park bearing details of an executive order to do what he can without the Congressional support. That includes strengthening “red flag” laws requiring background checks to identify felons and domestic abusers before they buy a gun, releasing more information on gun dealers who are breaking firearm laws, accelerating data on ballistics that can enable law enforcement to identify and apprehend shooters, pushing efforts to stem guns that are not identified by metal detectors, and improving federal support—financial and for grief and trauma—for survivors and their families, first responders and communities.
The empathic president told the crowd on Tuesday what they already knew—that their “day of festivity and light turned into a day of fear and darkness,” their “holiday of hope and possibilities [was] marked by horror and pain,” with “families left behind who will never be the same.” In a way few other presidents can or have, he told them that “you’re loved and not alone…I know what it’s like to lose a loved one so suddenly…like a black hole in your chest you feel like you’re being sucked into. Suffocating, hardly able to breathe. The anger. The pain.”
He shared poignant facts of the 11 men and women who lost their lives. The 72-year-old dance instructor who walked patrons to their cars at night. The life of the party who made the whole room laugh. The devoted mom and wife who brought food to those who had trouble walking. The free-spirited dancer who died shielding his dance partner. The grandmother whose granddaughter often fell asleep “nestled between her loving arms.”
He also talked about the character of their community and the “resilience and power of the Asian American immigrant family” exemplified by Everything Everywhere All at Once, the winning film at the Oscars on Sunday. And then: “We remember and mourn today, but I am here with you today to act.”
He described what actions he could take. This included encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to tell the public how gun manufacturers market guns to minors and to all civilians, “including through the use of military imagery.”
And as much as he wanted to emphasize that he’s a man of action, President Biden made clear his limitations—and his ambition to do more. “None of this absolves Congress…from the responsibility of acting to pass universal background checks, eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability. And I am determined once again to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines…Our Republican friends let it expire—and 10 years later, mass shootings tripled since then. Tripled.”
“Ban assault weapons,” he implored. “Ban them again. Do it now. Enough.”
Speaking of bans—and the deadly nature of propaganda—the military veterans group VoteVets released a two-minute ad last week decrying the danger of Fox News and the need to end the channel’s presence on U.S. military bases. “The most valuable weapon to the enemy is disinformation,” it begins, noting later that one in seven of the violent insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 had military backgrounds.
“There’s no excuse for allowing anti-American, anti-democracy anti-military disinformation in the barracks, in the chow hall or anywhere our troops serve,” the ad says, noting that Fox engages in “information warfare that divides the troops, hurts unit cohesion, weakens our readiness and threatens our national security.”
Noting the dangerous lies about the outcome of the 2020 election, the ad concludes with this declaration: “The Pentagon needs to ban Carlson, Ingraham and Hannity from all military facilities, at home and abroad right now.”
And last night, VoteVets ran a 30-second version of their ad during the aforementioned propagandists’ programs on the cable systems that deliver their lies to military installations. “Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity spread their conspiracy theories to U.S. troops,” it begins, “and now we know they were lies just to boost their ratings.”
The progressive VoteVets is comprised of over 1.5 million veterans, military family members and their supporters. Their public campaign is exactly the kind of counterpunching necessary to drive change. The Department of Defense and its commander-in-chief have a duty to pull the plug on this dangerous propaganda infecting the troops. That would be just the kind of one-two punch needed along with a successful defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems that drains the coffers of Rupert Murdoch’s “news” operation.
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I am a Vietnam vet and just signed up with VoteVets to support their initiatives. Thanks for the insight and link.
Steve, this is not only one of your best columns (at least in my opinion) but also one of your most touching columns - the way you captured the spirit and heart of both Biden and the people in VoteVets.com. This is the true meaning of “pro-life.”