Robbins: Six degrees of cowardice have risen in nation’s gun debate (column) |

Robbins: Six degrees of cowardice have risen in nation’s gun debate (column)

Rohn Robbins
Valley Voices

Degree: A point in any scale.

Cowardice: Lack of courage or firmness of purpose.

First degree

The Shooters. All of them.

This is utterly self-evident. What greater spinelessness could there be than to burst into a church, or a theater, or a classroom full of children with an assault weapon and gun down unsuspecting innocents? What greater cravenness could be manifest itself in the human heart than to perch high above The Strip in Las Vegas and strafe those below packed in for the simple joy of music? Or to slaughter children to avenge some imagined slight? What could be harder than a soul devoid of empathy, than one that feels no pain? This is the cowardice of a man behind a gun aimed at the unarmed guiltless.

Second degree

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Ex-Broward County Sheriff's Office Deputy Scot Peterson.

To serve and protect? Not by a long shot. The school resource officer assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where the most recent slaughter took place was armed and knew there was an active shooter. Instead of going after him, Peterson took up a position viewing the entrance to the building. And there he waited with three other deputies while the killing was going on. None of them went in where the students were under attack, never tried to save the sons and daughters whose lives were being cut short by a madman. They froze. They looked out for themselves.

How many of the 17 might they have saved? How do they compare to the heroes of that day: Alan Feis, the football coach who threw himself between the children and the gunman; Scott Beigel, the teacher who stayed in the hall to usher students in to safety; 15-year-old Peter Wang, who held the door at the expense of his own life so that others could find safety; the Coral Springs police officers who risked their lives? What did these sworn peace officers think that there were there for? How small are they compared to Feis, Beigel, Wang and the others? Theirs is the cowardice of the blackest dereliction, of the primacy of self above all else.

Third degree

Dana Loesch. How dare she.

Loesch, the telegenic spokes-hypocrite for the NRA, at CNN's Town Hall where survivors gathered to call for change, termed the Florida gunman an "insane monster." She insisted that she was fighting for survivors like Emma Gonzalez who had confronted her. Her empathy was a feint.

The next night, speaking at CPAC, she showed her true colors, throwing her audience red meat, barking, "Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it," said Loesch, staring directly at media gathered in the back of the room. "You love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media."

Before the Parkland victims were even in the ground, Loesch exploited and defamed them for her political agenda. She diminished the pain of grieving families, used them to suffuse her aims. Before the bodies were yet cold, she trespassed on their graves. Hers is the cowardice of expediency, a cowardice beyond the bounds of decency.

Fourth degree

The President.

Like hell he would. Other than himself, who does the president believe he's duping that, had he been there, we would have rushed in, even if unarmed? This is a man who turned on his suspect bone spurs and ran from Vietnam. He is a man who lauds the military yet exploited his privileged position to shirk his duty to his country.

This is not man who protested the war out of principal, who stood his ground and took his lumps. This is a spoiled Richie Rich who paved a path with gold to freedom. Our president is a man who bullies the weak, who defames the physically challenged, who slights those who have earned success on their own, who tries to undermine independence, who lacks the simple courage to tell the truth. This is an emperor without clothes who gropes women without consent, pays off his mistresses to maintain their silence, who stiffs his workers, who exploits the system to avoid his financial obligations, whose mind has changed so many times at the turn of opportunity that he cannot be — and has never been — trusted. This is a coward who exploits his gilded position, who kowtows to the NRA despite his previous calls for gun control, because the fierce expediency of the care and feeding of his base demand it. This is a man without conscience, morals or beliefs. This is the cowardice of absent convictions.

Fifth degree

The Congress.

Where are the statesmen? Where are the leaders? Where are the men and women of conviction who stand on principal instead of standing with their hands out? Who among them is this generation's Patrick Henry who stands for something greater than self-perpetuation? Who will lift the banner? Who will elevate the common welfare above his or her own grubbing for re-election? Who will man the guardrails of democracy? Where is the Senator or Congressperson who will assemble rather than dissemble? Who among them will say "no" to this marauding administration? Theirs is the cowardice of lassitude, of standing flatfooted instead of charging to the ramparts to defend this nation they are sworn to protect against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Degree Six

Us. All of us.

Unless we lift our voices. Unless we take action. It is the time for common sense. It is the moment for meaningful reform. It is the season to stop the slaughter of innocents. The Second Amendment will not be unduly impinged by mandating universal background checks, by limiting magazine capacity, by banning bump stocks, by limiting private ownership of assault weapons whose only purpose is to massacre in dizzying numbers. Only in America, do the mentally ill so easily fulfill their wholesale slaughter. This is not the way we want to lead the world. It's time to stop. We are complicit — we are cowardly — if we do not demand reform. Protect the Second Amendment? Sure. Allow it to be abused to undergird the wholesale butchery of children? No. That was never its intent.

Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney, former adjunct professor of law and legal columnist for the Vail Daily.