We try to teach kids about bullying. There are laws against bullying. No name-calling weeks in schools. We urge children not to be intimidated.
But they shouldn’t look to the grown-ups for role models. Not when it comes to guns. On that matter our leaders pretty much cave before the gun lobby, one of the biggest bullies in Washington.
The supreme bully is the top gun of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, who after the Newtown Connecticut school slaughter called for more guns, rather than fewer guns. And, how about arming all the teachers?
It was such a nutcake idea that had we not all been in shock and in tears we might have laughed him back into his bunker.
But he didn’t go away. He’s still lurking, snarling and growling and saying boo. Along with his lieutenants.
In some circles it goes to the very top. Consider the five Republican members of the Senate (Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and James Inhofe) who promise to filibuster additional gun restrictions when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tries to open discussion. It doesn’t matter that the parents of the 20 first graders slaughtered in December want an open debate about guns. The bullies won’t budge.
Bullies rely on bystanders not getting involved. And there are too many bystanders in Congress, including weak-willed Democrats who first said they want to do something about gun control but now worry that the bully might “sight-in” on them.
For the bully to prevail he must create a real or perceived power imbalance. He uses coercion and intimidation to get his way. I got that from a government website designed for teachers and parents to help kids identify, prevent and deal with bullying in the schools. It’s called stopbullying.gov. Among the suggestions is to change the attitude of adults who tolerate bullying. The bully mentality needs to be challenged early or it will become accepted as normal.
Unfortunately the government has no such anti-bullying website for itself.
Bullies count on creating cowards. They make people give in even when they know something is wrong. But there is some reason for hope. There are some people who are standing up. New York, Colorado and Connecticut have enacted new gun control laws. And across the country last week more than 130 groups from Arizona to New Hampshire rallied for common sense gun legislation.
But in Washington, D.C. there’s every reason to fear the bullies will get their way.
So far, the inaction of Congress has created an environment in which “cowards can succeed,” said California congresswoman Jackie Speier who calls her colleagues “gutless” because “they know in their heart of hearts” the right thing to do. “But they are more concerned about their reelection.”
There was great resolve after we buried those first-graders and their teachers. But, so far, common sense, a sympathetic president and the pleas by parents of dead babies don’t seem enough to stand up to the NRA.
Sorry about all this, you 20 first graders. Your country, our leaders and honestly, most of us don’t seem to have the guts. You didn’t even live long enough to hear the lesson on bullying.