Whipped Cream atop a plate of Haggis

Paul Evans

However, the bill in polite terms is a lot like a pile of whipped cream atop a plate of Haggis... It is a fluffy, tasty, spread that does not change the quality of the taste of the material underneath. This bill will not change the prevailing network of gun violence control policies.

Manchin and Toomey should be praised for working across the partisan divide in pursuit of a compromise facilitating passage of expanded background checks. It takes courage to do what they are attempting to do.

However, the bill in polite terms is a lot like a pile of whipped cream atop a plate of Haggis... It is a fluffy, tasty, spread that does not change the quality of the taste of the material underneath. This bill will not change the prevailing network of gun violence control policies.

Sadly, we are witness to a moment in history where accomplishing even a largely symbolic victory - is a risk for the men and women sent to Washington on our behalf. And let us be clear: the compromise is far more symbol than substance.

Gun violence is nothing short of a pandemic. Vast majorities of nearly every political sub-culture within the US support rational, reasonable solutions to the undeniable tragedy that continues to rip apart our communities - one lone gunman at a time.

We are Americans. We protected a fragile Republic during a Great Depression, defeated an Axis of tyranny in 38-months, and led the way in developing global relationships that facilitated the most impressive period of economic expansion in human history.

We sent a man to the moon and back, built computers that now put more power in the palm of our hand than people could have imagined possible - even thirty years ago. Americans are not guaranteed success in this country, but we have opportunities that few other nations provide.

And yet, we have allowed an Un-Holy Alliance of corporate greed, upper class entitlement, and sophistry to implement an Era of Permanent Paralysis within our government.

The gilded few can only maintain power through exploitation of the irrational fears of the many - what was once a model for using patriotism for political gain has devolved into an unprincipled policy of fear-generation.

Fact: The Second Amendment of the US Constitution is an important part of our past, present, and future. There is a sub-culture within America that celebrates the rights of responsible gun ownership. As a 21-year veteran of the USAF - I am a member of this sub-culture. And yet, over 85% of my comrades-in-arms share my view that UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS and other rational, reasonable policies should be implemented.

The NRA does not speak for me - even though a vast majority of the NRA happens to agree with me - at least 70% by the most "conservative sources." Those that respect guns do not want people to use guns to harm people, but for some reason the NRA is led by people that have lost touch with the spirit of the organization they control.

It is time for a shift in our politics. Elected US Senators and Members of Congress should not "risk" election when seeking to implement rational, reasonable - responsible policies. And the biggest reason this is our reality is the power of money in politics.

The Oregon House of Representatives is seeking to pass House Joint Memorial 6. It seeks to differentiate the rights of a corporation from the rights of real persons. It is the first step in changing the environment of Washington - and the several states.

For many years a small group of us have recognized the linkage between corporate empowerment and individual - personal - disempowerment. We have sought ways to highlight and identify the structural and systemic disease that is killing our body politic.

Big change cannot happen overnight, but it can happen and it must start somewhere. Brian Clem made it a priority to begin that change - to assist in a national change - this session with introduction of House Joint Memorial 6.

We must help the Oregon Legislature pass House Joint Memorial 6 - and then work in a collaborative fashion to implement the required changes in law, rule, and policy that reflect our values. We must do what we can, where we can, when we can - or we will be responsible for watching our nation, state, and communities continue devolving into a hollow echo of what could be.

Unless we make this personal, we will continue to suffer from symptoms - the inability to pass real gun violence reform, the inability to pass a responsible federal budget, the inability to implement real mitigation strategies for climate change, and the inability to elect reasonable leaders that value progressive compromise as a healthy thing rather than a necessary thing.

When America is united few things can divide us; when we are divided - few things can motivate us.

Our journey begins with an acceptance of responsibility and duty. We the People must answer the call of history - this is our mission, this is our time.

It is time to identify the real enemy: us - for we are the real enemy. As long as we tolerate the perpetuation of paralysis in Washington - the permanent paralysis that comes from a polluted system with hidden influence, unchecked money, and corporate power - we can only blame ourselves.

We must formulate and execute a revolution of conscience. And peaceful revolutions require strategy, sacrifice, and service. We must use each, every victory as a fuel for future engagements.

Next week the US Senate should pass the background check enhancements. It will be a small but important symbolic victory. It will be an important signal to the NRA that they are not omnipotent - despite the rhetoric of their self-identified successor to Moses - Wayne LaPierre.

The bill is an improvement, but a marginal improvement. There appears to be loopholes for personal sales that will likely allow existing practices to continue in many places. However, it is a step along the path and must be celebrated for what it tells us all - that there are some in DC with the courage to keep trying.

And the spirit to keep at the fight is an important part of the recipe for meaningful change.

We must help our allies in DC and around the nation. All of us are honor-bound to do our part now. Together we must replace the Era of Permanent Paralysis with an Era of People Power. Real persons should have more authority over our government than legal contrivances.

The choice is ours.

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