Take the pledge

Caricature of Senator Richard Burr (R, NC) created by DonkeyHotey
Senator Richard Burr (R, NC)
Caricature of Senator Lindsey Graham (R, SC) created by DonkeyHotey
Senator Lindsey Graham (R, SC)


“Let’s come up with solutions that are bipartisan, propose something Mr. President and I think Republicans have an obligation to work with Democrats to make it law if we can”- Senator Lindsey Graham (SC).

“I’ve been committed to protecting the Second Amendment rights of Americans since I was elected. I will continue to defend our constitutional rights”- Senator Burr.

There is a real difference in the way that South Carolina Senator Graham and North Carolina Senator Burr, both Southern conservatives with whom I have major policy disagreements, have approached gun violence. Senator Graham wants to do something positive through legislation that will lower gun deaths; Burr clearly does not.

Senator Burr takes gun rights to an extreme never intended by the founders. Senators like Burr will not pass new laws to protect the rights of children to be free from gun violence because they are cowards. Burr is in effect on the NRA payroll, having accepted over $7 million… and that is the only reason he refuses to see the truth.

After every gun massacre, Burr and colleagues like fellow N.C. Senator Tillis (who accepted over $4 million in NRA funds) usually follow up a statement similar to this: “Please keep the victims, their families, first responders and the community in your thoughts and prayers” (Tillis, 2-14-18).Yes, Senator, we all do that… to no avail. 

Every time we have a mass shooting you and others like you in Congress say we need to wait until we “know the facts” and shouldn’t “jump to conclusions” (Senator Rubio). Then, when the news shifts to a different news cycle, you go back to business advocating for an unneeded wall and other right-wing ideological priorities… and forget all about gun control until the next massacre when you once again say there is nothing to be done with these mentally ill shooters except pray.

Well, I am praying, too. I am praying every day that immoral men like Tillis and Burr will finally come to their senses and see that they have a direct responsibility to prevent gun violence, especially against our innocent children. But, my prayers have not been answered.

In Charleston, S.C. and in Sutherland Springs, Texas, our sisters and brothers were praying when they were shot down. The same with Poway, Pittsburg and many other places.

Their prayers were not answered either. Praying didn’t solve the problem. With gun violence, it never does, as the statistics prove. 

God gave us a brain to think (and vote); that actually does help. So, what can we as a nation do? Here are a few common-sense approaches: 

  • Adopt the official AMA position that firearm violence is a major public health issue and fund studies by the CDC to examine both causes and solutions (note; the head of the CDC told me a few weeks ago at an Atlanta public health meeting  that this is the reason they do not do so).
  • Establish a bi-partisan Congressional Committee to propose specific legislation (within a set time frame) to lessen firearm violence.
  • Pass a federal gun law similar to the one mandating that states raise the age to purchase liquor to 21 or lose federal funds.
  • Prohibit private ownership of bumper stocks and assault hand guns and rifles like the AR 15, the semi-automatic equivalent of the M 16 used by our military.
  • Restrict high capacity magazine use to only the police and military.
  • Close the gun show loop hole which lets anyone buy a gun, including criminals and crazies.
  • Prohibit anyone on various law enforcement “watch lists” from buying firearms.
  • Establish a more comprehensive federal data base and mandate by law that it be used, with severe penalties if it is not.
  • Restrict all use or purchase of guns by anyone having had mental health diagnosis or treatment within 5 years.
  • Mandate that mental health professionals submit data to the data base in a more effective manner than they do now.
  • Increase funding for community mental health programs addressing domestic violence.
  • Establish substantial taxes on ammunition, as we do with cigarettes, another public health hazard.

The reader may not agree with every single one of these recommendations, especially if you are in the GOP and a gun owner. That is not the point, although surveys have shown most Americans do believe in enacting a number of these recommendations. 

Senator Graham is at least willing to work on legislation to lower the number of gun tragedies this nation experiences versus other democracies.  The fact is that there are many things that can be done to potentially lessen the massacres and gun violence in general. At least some of them, if not all, will work to reduce some firearm deaths in some cases. Trying each one and failing with a few is much better than not trying any of them at all, the current GOP position.

The bottom line for all of us is that reducing violence is not a technical problem, as Senator Rubio and others on the NRA payroll would have you believe. It is a political one. 

Voters need to prioritize firearm control in their voting, the same way NRA members do. For my part, I hereby pledge that I will never vote for any politician who: a) accepts NRA money; b) incorrectly says that nothing at all can be done to restrict gun possession due to the second amendment. Will you, the reader, do the same?


Editor's Note: This story first appeared on the author's blog: UniversalHealthReform.wordpress.com.

Image Credits: Feature image: Stock Photo - Black and white, woman pointing a old gun to front with one Hand on dark background by Pop Nukoonrat and licensed by LikeTheDew.com at 123RF.com using the generous contributions from people like you. Caricatures of Senators Lindsey Graham (R, SC) and Richard Burr (R, NC) were created by DonkeyHotey (flickr/CC).


Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.