By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Jun 23, 2016 at 1:16 PM Photography: Jessica McBride

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It may not be possible to be any more revolted by the Republican Party than I am right now, and that doesn’t even count Donald Trump.

This week, a week after the largest mass killing in U.S. history, Republicans in the United States Senate, including our own dim bulb Sen. Ron Johnson, turned down a couple of serious attempts to enact some minor laws designed to help control gun violence.

On the same date the brain-dead group of lawmakers voted against a pair of gun control measures, the United States Supreme Court said, in effect, that laws controlling guns are not an infringement of the Second Amendment of the Constitution. The court has now refused to hear cases from Connecticut and New York, where lower courts ruled that bans on assault weapons were legal.

What that means is that it now seems OK, as decided by the conservative-leaning highest court in the land, to go ahead and enact some laws to control guns. But even the high court can’t sidetrack the Senate Republicans, who suck up the dollars and the mythology of the National Rifle Association.

After the Orlando shooting, hundreds of columnists, from E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post to my colleague Jessica McBride of OnMilwaukee, rushed to call for "unity" among lawmakers and serious efforts to curb the availability of weapons.

I said last week, and say again, that these "unity" cries are nothing more than whistling in the wind. It ain’t gonna happen, and if you really want to control guns, get your checkbook out and donate to the candidates who don't vote at the whims of the pro-gun lobby. Then move your butt off the couch and march yourself and everyone you know to the ballot box. It’s the only way to get some kind of gun sanity into our lives.

Josh Horwitz is the head of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a group of 47 national organizations working to reduce gun violence. He’s an expert on these things, and I talked with him this week after he recovered from that insane vote in the senate.

"It’s very clear that there are a number of politicians who aren’t going to budge on this matter," Horwitz said. "We have to make sure we build support against those who are vulnerable. Your senator (Johnson) is one of them."

Horwitz continued, "The NRA is going to drop a bundle on ads that tell their misleading story. We need to be able to counter those claims. Nobody is going to change their minds. The idea of both sides getting together on this is just not going to happen.

"We have to make sure that people understand how important this is, especially coming so close to a presidential election."

Horwitz also understands that it’s not just a national election that can lead to significant changes in gun laws.

"Many states have taken positive steps to curb the plague of gun violence," he said. "Your state (Wisconsin) is not one of them. You could do a lot better. But the only way to get change is to change the people who make the laws."

As I wrote last week, all of the hand-wringing and the "can’t we all just get along" stuff is so much folderol. Long on showmanship, short on results.

The most bogus of the arguments coming from the contemptible cowards who make up this GOP group is that the biggest fear we have are the mass killings by terrorists who are Muslim.

"We have terrible mass shootings," Horwitz said. "But hundreds of people are getting killed every week in this country by guns. That’s the real terror in this country."

Listening to all these Republicans makes me wonder if they are living in some kind of alternate reality. Sure, there are some terrorists out there, and we really ought to guard against any attacks. But there are millions of guns in the U.S. being used by our citizens, and they are a much greater threat to the average American than any kind of Islamic terrorist.

In Orlando, 49 people were killed and 53 wounded. In the week following the Pulse shooting, 228 people in the U.S. died from being shot with guns and another 536 were wounded by gunshots.

Think about those numbers and, now, think about how many people in America have been killed by Muslim terrorist shooters this year. What’s the real terror here?

Let’s stop kidding ourselves. Just because a bunch of shameful Republicans control Congress and control government in Wisconsin doesn’t mean we have to take this crap laying down.

What we need in Wisconsin is a litmus test.

If you are in favor of gun controls, you get our money, our support and our vote. If you are just sucking up cash from the NRA (Johnson has taken $615,681, according to campaign finance reports) and think the gun laws we have now are just fine, we won’t vote for you. Send Ron Johnson packing.

It is beyond time to make some sense of this whole thing. Horwitz had a succinct message for all those politicians who dig their heels in and hide behind the falsest of prophets, that Second Amendment, which bestows the right to keep and bear arms.

"The Second Amendment is no barrier to gun control," he said.


Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.