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With more than 300 million firearms in Americans’ hands — enough for every man, woman and child to have one — it does no good anymore to rant and rave about gun control. The National Rifle Association owns enough members of Congress to block meaningful measures and is no doubt working this very minute to block any new legislation in response to the slaughter of 19 children in Uvalde, Texas.

The gun lobby succeeds because it knows Americans have a ridiculously short attention span. The sense of outrage over Uvalde will last only slightly longer than the insincere moment of silence that the NRA will let its politicians observe before unleashing a new campaign to twist this tragedy into a victory for gun rights.

The bloodshed profiteers are, coincidentally, set to gather Friday in Houston — not far away from Uvalde — for the NRA’s annual convention. There, former President Donald Trump will join presidential aspirants like Sen. Ted Cruz in a political competition to see who can bow lowest to kiss the feet of the gun gods.

They, like the NRA, know Americans will soon forget this tragedy, just as they’ve put out of their minds the slaughter of 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut and the killing of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. They know that even the racist mass murder of 10 people in Buffalo, less than two weeks ago, already seems like a distant memory.

To his credit, Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr refused to let the NRA win at the game of distraction. He used an NBA playoff news conference Tuesday not to talk about basketball but to focus loudly on the Uvalde slaughter. “When are we going to do something?” Kerr said, shouting and pounding the table. “I’m tired of the moments of silence. Enough!”

He blamed Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell among 50 senators “who refuse to vote” on a House-passed background check bill, putting political interests ahead of measures to prevent future mass shootings. Even though the vast majority of Americans favor strengthened background checks, subservient politicians won’t budge without NRA permission.

One thing that does get gun manufacturers’ attention, however, is the single successful product-liability lawsuit brought by families of the Sandy Hook victims against gun-maker Remington, which in February yielded a $74 million settlement. If Republicans don’t want to impose better background checks or controls, then why not at least consider repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005?

Tobacco companies, once among the most powerful in politics, were brought to their knees once billion-dollar lawsuits forced them to account for the death their products wrought. It’s time Congress stopped protecting gun-makers and forced them to be held accountable for their products’ deadly toll.

— The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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