David Frum

12.20.12

No Lobby is More Powerful Than the People

Douglas Anthony Cooper recounts the heartbreaking saga of Tom Mauser, whose son was killed at Columbine. Mauser was arrested for trespassing when he went to protest at the NRA headquarters in Virginia, and despite his best efforts, he never received a reply to a letter he wrote Charlton Heston. Cooper, while angered, suggests the American people cannot remain cowed by lobby groups that would treat grieving parents with such callous indifference.

Will we act the same way towards the parents of the children murdered on December 14 -- two weeks before Christmas -- by an assault weapon whose casual availability is the fault of the National Rifle Association? Or will we perhaps do something about it?

Much can be done. No lobby, however wealthy and well-armed, is more powerful than the American people. Democracy works this way: it has non-violent means of purging malignant elements. Sometimes violence is necessary -- the end of slavery could not have been achieved by anything less than war -- but America has generally conquered evil in its midst by careful and deliberate due process.

The Civil War was an anomaly. McCarthyism was the norm: a threat to democracy laid to rest by the legislative branch of the American government. The NRA is certainly less of an evil than slavery, but is it really less ugly than McCarthyism? How many lives did Joseph McCarthy take? Let's count the innocent children, to be precise, slaughtered as a result of Senator McCarthy's policies. Now weigh that number (which -- unless I'm mistaken -- is zero) against the bloody, miserable body count which is a direct consequence of the policies shoveled onto the nation by the NRA.