Ari Melber has one question about gun violence: “Are we helpless?”
“No,” the MSNBC anchor would eventually go on to answer.
He began with the 1929 Saint Valentine’s Day massacre, when Al Capone had seven rival gang members executed with a machine gun. “And the nation was captivated and horrified that so many people, seven, could be killed at once, so quickly, in an urban center,” Melber said.
The anchor added, “Now shooting of seven today, while horrific, is not even usually the lead story on our evening news.”
However, as a result of the shock and horror incited in the nation, the first piece of gun control legislation, the National Gun Control Act, was enacted. The NRA even backed the law.
“In fact, for the next 30 years or so, the NRA did support and sometimes even wrote different types of gun control legislation,” Melber explained. He described how the NRA worked with federal and local governments on certain gun control laws.
Eventually, the NRA lobby began halting legislation that would inhibit the ability to obtain firearms.
Melber added that while automatic weapons are illegal, it is legal to purchase devices that make semi-automatics act like automatics. Like the bump stock the Las Vegas gunman used.
Melber then asks the question The Chicago Tribune asked in 1929 after the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre: “Is it helpless? Are we helpless?”
He continued, “But historically, there’s never been a legitimate debate about when to regulate guns. Today’s laws will always be the echo of yesterday’s politics.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a bill on Wednesday to outlaw bump-fire stocks in the United States. Melber discussed how many Democrats have signed onto the bill, and some Republicans are open to the idea, but there are still GOP members that say, “Now is not the time for this debate.”
“But the question is never really about timing,” Melber says. “Because the question is pretty old anyway. It’s what they asked in 1929: Are we helpless?”