Opinion, WVPA Sharing

Opinion: What’s It Going To Take?   

By Jack Cipoletti

Charleston, W.Va.

In a recent newspaper, I read that Peloton has recalled over two million exercise bikes because the seat assembly could break apart, potentially resulting in a fall by the user.

In the first three months of 2023, dozens of foods have been recalled or taken off the market. Among them were ham, beef, chicken, sausage, breakfast bowls and even produce, from different suppliers all over the U.S.

In the last decade, millions of toys have been removed from the marketplace, with Mattel and Fisher-Price leading the companies most effected. If a toy was potentially harmful to children, it was sidelined.

Millions of automobiles world-wide have been recalled for faulty Takata airbags alone. That’s in addition to the other reasons for recalls.

When it come to pharmaceuticals, the drugs recalled or taken off the market in the last decade are too numerous to list or even quote statistics on. And the list grows monthly.

What do all these unrelated products have in common? They were recalled or eliminated from the marketplace because they were unsafe. It shows that in our society, nothing is more important than the safety of our families.

Except, of course, protection of the grossly distorted meaning of the second amendment.

One of Donald Trump’s many gaffes was his claim that during the Revolutionary War, our troops took over the airports. Of course, there were no airplanes and thus no airports back then. Neither were there AK-47’s, AR-15’s or other automatic assault weapons with expanded magazines. To claim that the intent of the second amendment was to protect such weapons requires a suspension of common sense. Or a mindset that would believe there really were airplanes during the Revolutionary War.

The United States has 5% of the world’s population, but 47% of the world’s private ownership of guns. Mass shootings have become so commonplace that they sometimes don’t even qualify as breaking news.  

As another columnist recently opined, “For crying out loud, we’re a country that outlawed lawn darts because they could hurt children! Why can’t we do something about automatic assault weapons that are killing them?”

I think we all know the answer. The NRA is the most powerful lobby in Washington and most state capitols. Members of Congress are too scared to tackle the problem with common sense for fear of losing financial support and votes.

Nothing illustrates this more than Congress letting the ban on assault weapons expire in 2004. In the decade the ban was in effect, mass shootings decreased by 37% compared to the previous decade. In the decade following the expiration, mass shootings increased by 183%. I don’t know what the stats will be for 2015- 2024, but we can expect another significant increase. It will be hard to calculate since analysts will be chasing a moving target, going up every week with new mass shootings.

One thing is irrefutable –  Men, women and children have died because Congress didn’t have the guts to sustain a ban that proved it saved lives.

So what’s it going to take? More “thoughts and prayers” by politicians? That solves nothing and with as many mass shootings as we are experiencing, they must already be thinking and praying all day, every day.

I hate to say it and I truly hope it doesn’t come to this, but until mass shootings touch the families of people in positions that could do something about it, nothing will happen. As long as the victims are people they don’t know in places they don’t live, they won’t care enough to really address the problem.

There is one bright spot, however. Congress still stands strong against lawn darts.

For now.

Jack Cipoletti is a husband, father and grandfather, is retired and lives in Charleston, W.Va. Cipoletti also works with the WV Press Association.

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