The 1994 ban on assault weapons lapsed in 2004. Attempts to renew it, even in the wake of the murders of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December, 2012, have failed. This week, after the House observed a moment of silence for the 49 people slain by Omar Mateen in the Pulse nightclub massacre, Senate Democrats staged a 15-hour filibuster in protest, forcing a "path forward" on gun control. Mateen's weapon of choice was a Sig Sauer MCX, a high capacity assault rifle designed for use by U.S. special forces. As long as such weapons are available for purchase in this country, says Cognoscenti contributor Erika Fine in her poem, "The Blood-Spangled Banner," a moment of silence is not enough.
These tragic acts of wrath and hate
Are likely to proliferate
When men can saunter through a store
And buy a gun conceived for war,
When lies the N.R.A. has spread
Speak louder than the Newtown dead,
When fear of N.R.A. disdain
Numbs Congress to Orlando’s pain.
Assault guns, banned in ’94,
Are not illegal anymore.
The “right to bear” was misconstrued;
The prudent ban was not renewed.
A gun not meant for sport or play,
A gun designed for human prey,
A gun envisioned to destroy,
Is sold as if it were a toy.
The G.O.P. should be ashamed
That gun-rights zealots have them tamed.
A silent moment’s not enough
When laws are needed, sane and tough.