By: John Zogby Forbes.com Contributor
Just when you think that things have it rock bottom in Washington, someone is standing there with a jackhammer ready to go even lower. This week’s winner (or loser) is a fellow named Alan Gottlieb, executive director of the Second Amendment Foundation. Gottlieb says he was present during the discussions between Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey and helped write the final version of their background check amendment, which he endorses. But, in what can only be described as a tacky, tasteless and gratuitous exercise, Gottlieb claims that the amendment is “… a Christmas Tree. We just hung a million ornaments on it. If you really read what’s in Manchin-Toomey bill – man it’s a godsend.” In what is supposed to be a signal that he personally has not let his supporters down, he felt compelled to go even further by saying that “We win (gun) rights back like crazy. I think we snookered the other side. They haven’t figured it out yet”.
Wow. Mr. Gottlieb is not only a braggart. He actually gives transparency a bad name. There are moments in history when there is a demand for the better angels of our nature. The Newtown Massacre has been one such moment – a time for a thoughtful and reasoned debate, a time for sacrifice, a time to memorialize the most innocent of victims, a time to right a serious wrong. In the interests of full disclosure, I have done some polling for the gun lobby and for gun control organizations. I am not a fan of guns nor do I honestly believe that the Second Amendment is inviolable or sacred. I have personally come to grips with the fact that there are serious and honorable people who strongly disagree with me and whose beliefs are in their bloodstream. Guns and the right to bear arms are part of American culture. But I also know that there are times when all of us have been asked as Americans to make sacrifices. This is one such time – and, yes, that includes gun owners. For God’s sake, we have to register an automobile and have a license to fish. Laws are not made for the law abiding, they are created to stop criminals. Some laws succeed, others fail – but to argue failure before trying is not what legislatures are supposed to do.
I honestly don’t know if background checks, as limited as the current legislation with amendments proposes, will work. But I do know that failure to do anything at this time is an insult to those who have lost their lives and whose families are suffering. And I also know that passing such limited legislation is not even an act of courage when 90% of Americans support background checks.
So, to Mr. Gottlieb: this is one of those moments to both move the ball forward and to shut up about it, too.