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Chester County Press

Editorial: The perfumes of Arabia

06/07/2022 11:30AM ● By Richard Gaw

How now! Here is the smell of blood still. All the perfumes in Arabia could not sweeten this little hand.”

Lady Macbeth, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 1


This past Saturday evening, multiple shooters armed with five guns opened fire on South Street in Philadelphia, killing three people and leaving 11 others severely wounded on the sidewalk.

This shooting occurred just weeks after 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron’s May 14 arrival at a Tops Friendly Market, a store favored by residents in a mostly African-American district in Buffalo, N.Y. Motivated by racial hatred and carrying a AR-15 semiautomatic rifle he had recently purchased, Gendron opened fire and murdered 10 while severely injuring three others.

While these killings form just the latest chapter markers in a seemingly endless rampage that continues to sweep across the United States, they bow to the unimaginable horror – one now forever burned in our collective conscience -- that took place in Uvalde, Tex. on May 24.  As an 18th birthday present to himself, Salvador Ramos walked into a local federal firearms store on May 17 and May 20 and purchased two assault rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition. Four days later, Ramos drove two miles to the Robb Elementary School, armed with assault rifles and a tactical vest.

Entering the school fully armed and unchecked, Ramos walked from classroom to classroom and killed 19 students – all between 9 and 10 years of age -- and two teachers over the course of one hour.

Just three days after the murders in Uvalde, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was a featured speaker at the 2022 National Rifle Association Convention in Houston, less than 200 miles from where Ramos gunned down 21 people. During the course of his 28-minute speech, Cruz called children “our most precious asset,” and referred to the Uvalde murders as “the ultimate nightmare for every parent” and “the darkest evil.”

Then, likely at the same moment mothers and fathers of the victims of the Uvalde massacre were burying their murdered children, Cruz said, “Has the Second Amendment ever been more necessary to secure the rights of our fellow citizens? But many in the world still tell us that the evil on display in Uvalde and Buffalo derives from the presence of guns in the hands of ordinary American citizens.”

The gift of Sen. Cruz to speak from both sides of his mouth like this comes as little surprise to the vast majority of Americans who are in support of the federal government to enact stricter gun reform laws in an effort to curb the mass shootings that have disgraced and defined our country for the past 23 years. Cruz’ steadfast allegiance to the weary and outdated Second Amendment – like other elected officials just like him – is also of little wonder.

In a country that has witnessed a total of 35 mass shootings that have killed 446 people since the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, the outrage from the American public has been met by an openly defiant faction of mostly federal Republican lawmakers.

For them, their usual issuance of “thoughts and prayers” is quickly followed up with a litany of backlash to proposed legislation, punctuated with the chart topper “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” They oppose raising the minimum age to purchase certain guns to 21, calling it “unconstitutional.” Expanding background checks to include private gun sales is still wallowing among Republican Senate members. Similarly, they continue to balk at passing legislation that punishes those who fail to secure guns from children and criminals, and some Republican senators are against the outright ban of assault weapons.

Are we at all surprised?

In 2019, the NRA spent $3.22 million to sweeten the political campaigns of senators who oppose gun safety legislation. Of those, 16 have received more than $1 million, including outgoing Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, who has pocketed $1.4 million from the NRA during his time in the Senate.

The inglorious truth of their actions – all under the guise of protecting the Second Amendment and keeping guns in the hands of responsible gun owners -- is that the money these senators continue to accept from the NRA is positively filthy with blood, and no matter how hard they send thoughts and prayers to the victims of these crimes with each tallied massacre, the harder it is for them to wash their hands of this senseless and yet avoidable madness. It is now their impermeable and unwashable stain, and, in the profound words of Lady Macbeth, what’s done cannot be undone.