For many more years than I can count on my fingers, I have been writing about the deadly intersection of political malfeasance on the issue of guns — and the predictable deaths of innocent, and often young, Americans from powerful deadly weapons owned by the wrong people.

I write from personal experience. My niece was one of the beautiful children tragically murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

This past week’s carnage at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is the 40th “active shooter” episode in America’s schools since 2000. Not surprisingly, we learn that the killer is a disturbed young man with a love of AR-15 weaponry and a bitter hatred for his fellow students. This time, that loathing took the lives of at least 17 of his schoolmates and others, while he seriously wounded many more.

The junior senator from Florida, Republican Marco Rubio, cautioned his constituents that “now is not the time to talk about gun legislation, as it is too early to do so.” For Rubio, who has always tied his political kite to the National Rifle Association, it is never the proper time to discuss mass killings or the obvious need for sensible gun reform legislation. Rubio has enthusiastically accepted $3.3 million in cash and spending to benefit his campaigns from the NRA.

That is also the dirty picture in North Carolina, where senators Burr and Tillis are similarly tied to the NRA and its blood money. Burr has accepted $6.9 million in cash and campaign spending. Tillis has accepted $4.4 million in NRA contributions to benefit his campaigns. Both are rated A-plus by the NRA for their loyal support of NRA-backed gun legislation.

Of the 535 members of Congress, only Sen. John McCain has taken more NRA money than Burr. Traditionally, very few Democrats in either house of the Congress accept the NRA’s filthy lucre.

Whenever there is a gun tragedy, GOP senators release statements that typically read, “This day’s tragic violence has absolutely no place here in America. We send our deepest condolences and prayers to the families of the victims of this horrific and senseless tragedy.” They also repeat by rote the NRA’s predictable line, “We can have a discussion (about guns) at another time. But it is a typical political tactic by some on the left.”

Burr has co-sponsored a concealed carry reciprocity law bill, which would allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons in one state to do it in another that doesn’t prohibit the weapons. Burr disingenuously argued, in a debate on ending gun violence, that background checks would lead to gun registration, knowing full well that the act being considered specifically provided “fines and 15 years in prison for anyone using records to create a gun registry.” Burr has always taken his marching orders from the NRA.

Tillis also supports concealed carry laws. He strongly opposed President Obama’s push for a reliable universal background check system. This week’s Florida killer proudly posted photos of himself holding guns and knives on the internet for all to see, including the FBI. Kicked out of school, he was known to be a potentially dangerous individual in his community. Yet he had no trouble buying an AR-15.

Congressional Republicans want to make it easier to purchase silencers. The so-called Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Act, (like that title?) would allow people to bring assault guns into jurisdictions where they are banned and protect the use of armor-piercing bullets.

Ever meet a hunter who felt the need for armor-piercing bullets — or an AR-15, for that matter? No police official wants his officers facing such deadly ammunition.

President Donald Trump has long praised the National Rifle Association. He took more than $21 million from the organization. Does anyone in America honestly believe that this chaotic leader might act to reduce gun violence, and thereby risk cutting off future NRA campaign funding?

Fully 85 percent of Americans want to see much stronger controls over such weapons of mass destruction. The latest Gallup Poll reports that 60 percent favor stricter laws covering the sales of firearms. Those vital statistics will never penetrate Trump’s “genius” brain.

Last year in the U.S. there were 50,433 “gun incidents,” 12,599 deaths, (that’s 242 a week), including 249 policemen, plus 22,599 suicides. Las Vegas’ carnage was only three months ago, when 58 were slaughtered and 546 injured by Stephen Paddock. Moore County had its own mass killing in 2009, when deranged shooter Robert Stewart murdered seven residents and a nurse at the Pinelake nursing home in Carthage. He was sentenced to 179 years in prison.

What is to prevent not one, but two disturbed young men from going on a killing rampage at a school or college? Nothing. At least not while the Congress of the United States is occupied by cowardly representatives who fear the primary wrath of the NRA. The NRA campaign money they so willingly accept is covered with blood.

Paul R. Dunn lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at:

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