By RDG Senior Counsel Rob Radcliff
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got”
WARNING: The following blog is provocative, political and will possibly stir passions. You may conclude it has no business in a message about economic development, and yet, I submit it has everything to do with that message. If you do not want to be impassioned and empowered, or conversely angered and combative then my advice is read no further and have a great day. If, on the other hand, you are as tired as I am of the on-going weakness, ineptitude, and ineffectiveness of our elected officials regarding this issue, then come on, jump on the train.....
I have to start by saying political polarization is no longer a new phenomena. Unfortunately, I am afraid it is worse today than ever and I dare say with us for good. I’ve written about it before in this blog, concluding by expressing hope and optimism that we, as a country, could rise above this polarization and do what's right. Unfortunately, political polarization is keeping us from doing what needs to be done in so many areas, but most recently regarding the need for meaningful and responsible gun control.
I think of myself as a pragmatic optimist but find that I am not nearly as optimistic as I once was. I am asking myself what is happening in our country that we tolerate and accept heinous, reprehensible behavior like we have witnessed these past few weeks in Buffalo, Uvalde, Tulsa and now Alabama to highlight just a few, not to mention the countless number of gun related incidents in the past two decades. You may be saying, “I’m not tolerating it; it’s horrible and we need to do something.” But what are we doing? Are we voting out our elected representatives who can’t seem to get anything done? Are we contributing financially to individuals and organizations committed to breaking the intellectual monopoly the NRA seems to hold over the US Congress? Again, what is wrong with us?
You may be asking, what do guns have to do with economic development? Here’s what I say: Communities that do not make it a priority to protect their children, teachers and citizens are at a competitive disadvantage with those that do.
I read an article recently that leaves me depressed and concerned, the data driven premise being that 25% of Americans believe political violence is justified. You can argue with the data and results, but one conclusion seems clear: political polarization has never been more prevalent, and it is keeping us from doing so many things, not the least of which is protecting our children, and our future.
I am a lawyer by education and do understand the meaning and purpose of the Second Amendment. I am not going to debate the merits or lack thereof but WILL state vehemently that it was NOT intended to make it easy for disturbed people to LEGALLY purchase weapons of mass destruction, such as the AR15, so they can take their frustrations out on innocent people, including children.
I am also a parent, and two of our four adult children happen to be educators, who apparently put their lives on the line every day to teach our nation’s future leaders. Their job was never intended to be combat duty and yet, that’s what it has become. I am also a grandparent, with two of our grandchildren of elementary school age. Both are being Home Schooled now and I can’t say I am excited for them to get into a classroom anytime soon. That is a sad statement on the situation in our country today.
We have all seen the statistics that show just how out of control gun violence in the US is compared to other countries. Not doing something about it falls somewhere between callous disregard and complicity.
I read yesterday that Congress plans to vote on the latest attempt to begin addressing this problem before their July 4 break, perhaps even as early as today or tomorrow in the US Senate. That's great and a very important first step; however, the skeptic in me says I will believe it when I see it!
I say it's time for us to do something. Anything. Communicate with your elected officials that you are no longer going to stand by and accept inaction. Do not tolerate excuses. Encourage your board of directors to take a position – there are so many forms of legislation at both the state and federal levels – background checks, waiting periods, outlaw AR15s, limits on ammunition purchases, etc., etc.– just pick one and take a stand. Financially support organizations that are fighting to protect our children and teachers. Endorse political candidates that do the same. Here are two organizations that I support but I am sure you can find others:
Don’t hide behind excuses like “we are not a political organization” … “we don’t take positions like this” … “this will split our board”. If there was ever a time for leadership, it’s now. Be a leader. Do something because this has to stop.