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Opinion | GOP now stands for “Get Out, Pronto!”

Joey Kennedy

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A lot of Republicans have decided they don’t want to be in Congress anymore. In the House, 15 GOP members, including Alabama’s Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, are calling it quits. In the Senate, four Republicans have thus far decided to leave after their current terms end.

Among those retiring is the only African-American Republican in Congress, Will Hurd of Texas.

There could be a lot more retirements, too. Republicans likely won’t retake the House again for awhile. They could very well lose the Senate and the White House.

No doubt one reason so many Republicans are leaving is that they understand they’ve ceded their party to Donald Trump. Instead of being fiscally responsible these days, Republicans are running up deficits so high that Democrats look like they’re the frugal party.

Just like in his businesses, Trump doesn’t give a whit about deficits. The nation can always borrow more money after all.

Trump, too, isn’t moving much on gun restrictions, and neither are Republicans, which on some gun issues are leaving them out of sync with most Americans.

Fact: The vast majority of Americans favor universal background checks for gun buyers. Most Republicans vehemently oppose them because they’re mostly owned by the National Rifle Association, which opposes anything that makes buying a firearm more difficult.

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Trump, after giving the idea of stronger background checks and the creation of red flag laws to remove guns temporarily from those deemed dangerous to themselves or others a little lip service, is backing down.

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So where Republicans in Congress are refusing to act on gun restrictions, businesses are stepping in. Walmart will no longer sell ammunition for semi-automatic, military-style weapons that, frankly, should not be available to the general public in the first place. These are the weapons often used by mass shooters when they commit their awful crimes.

Both Walmart and grocery chain Kroger are not going to allow open carry in their stores anymore.

And, for what it’s worth – and for those who believe we should have more restrictions on firearms, not fewer – the NRA is in deep financial trouble and has a substantial number of its members upset in how it is misspending their money and some of the positions the gun organization is taking on background checks and common-sense gun regulation.

Just as the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech, press, the right to assemble or petition the government for a redress of grievances is not without common-sense regulation, neither should the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms be unfettered.

Indeed, lines have already been drawn. People can’t own bazookas or missile launchers. Those are “arms.” Neither should anybody but the police and military be able to have and use military-style assault weapons.

The reason we have so many mass shootings in this country isn’t because of violent video games or movies or simply mental health. Every country has violent video games, violent movies, and people with mental illness.

The difference in this nation and others is the gun. We have more guns in circulation than people. Our gun culture is out of control. Gun control? There is no gun control. It doesn’t exist in the United States.

When Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kroger and others will forego business to have some impact, however small, on preventing gun violence, it amplifies just how little Congress, and mainly Republicans, care.

So Republicans, many who are not happy with what their party has done and is doing, and what their party’s president has done and is doing, would rather call it quits than try to stay the course.

That those Republicans rarely speak out against Trump until they’ve decided to leave, says much about their courage. That most Republicans fail to tell the NRA where to stick it, says much about their cowardice.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]

 

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