On the EDge: Emergency? What emergency?

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — A national emergency cannot be declared simply to fulfill a campaign promise.

A national emergency cannot be declared to circumvent Congress. A national emergency is an event that requires immediate action that Congress is unable to act upon.

A national emergency cannot deflect military funds to a nonmilitary application.

So legally and morally, the cards are stacked against the administration as it desperately tries to save face on its promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.

You remember all those jingoistic rally cries about erecting a big, beautiful wall to separate the two countries that would be built on Mexico’s peso, right?

Well, the wall is now a bollard-style edifice, and taxpayers are being told the funds for it will come from their wallets.

The pro and con fanaticism about this wall remains an irritant in the gut for both sides and a dog whistle for those with a penchant for those who do not embrace our neighbors from the south, hiding their prejudice beneath a sea of lies.

The thing is, why hasn’t the president used his bully pulpit for greater purpose?

On the day when the president put his money where his mouth is in that regard we had yet another mass shooting in the United States, this time at a facility in Aurora, Illinois.

The president, like every one of his predecessors, has spoken about the tragedy of gun violence. In fact, it is his favorite fear card when trying to persuade Congress and a disbelieving public to fall in lockstep to build his monument to racism.

But if you look at the numbers, you are compelled to ask: If the president is so concerned about the safety and welfare of United States citizens, why doesn’t he apply his signature to a piece of paper declaring gun violence as a national emergency?

Look, all of those numbers about criminal activity among undocumented immigrants that were rattled off during the State of the Union address were fabrication. There is currently no national database that charts crimes committed by immigration status. Only one state – Texas – tracks that.

And what the Texas numbers show is that crime rates are lower among immigrant groups than they are for those born in the United States. Latest data studied shows that in 2015, undocumented immigrants were convicted of just 3.8 percent of homicides in Texas while native-born Americans were convicted of 90 percent.

The president, of course, disputes this claim as fake news.

Besides, regardless of the number of mass killings and victims, gun control is off the table with this administration and traditional conservatives as well. Just look to the Utah Legislature for a local read on how the gun supporters roll. On Thursday the House voted 53-16 in favor of a resolution to, basically, throttle new gun legislation.

“It is important that we realize we cannot infringe on our constitutional rights at the same time we’re trying to protect people,” Rep. Cory Maloy, R-Lehi, said.

The sad irony in all of this is that the resolution passed on the one-year anniversary of an attack on a Parkland, Florida, high school that resulted in 17 deaths and 17 injuries. Of course, this isn’t the first time the Utah Legislature has displayed insensitivity, or have you forgotten how it would open its general session on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday?

Maloy fails to understand that by not trying to curb assault weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines and military-grade ammo he is failing to protect people. He also doesn’t acknowledge the startling fact that 85 percent of all of Utah’s gun deaths between 2006 and 2015 were suicides.

The resolution, while not binding, could throw shade on a bill authored by Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, aimed at cutting that number by allocating more than $1 million to expand the voluntary program supporting firearm safety equipment, including gun locks for shotguns and long rifles as well as coupons for gun safes and electronic gun boxes. Funding has already been allocated for handgun locks.

Whether the Legislature moves forward or stubbornly fails to enact outright bans, which is the only true solution, remains to be seen.

This epidemic of violence must be squelched.

After last week’s shooting, the president tweeted: “Great job by law enforcement in Aurora, Illinois. Heartfelt condolences to all of the victims and their families. America is with you!”

But America is not with these families. If it was, the outrage would not dissipate in the next news cycle, our leaders would stand up to the wickedness of this evil and stop the carnage and not shrug it off with a lame “What can we do?”

America is not with these families. If it was, it would realize that condolences, thoughts and prayers will not remove the pain and loss.

America is not with these families. If it was, it would turn its attention to the homegrown atrocities committed by U.S. citizens instead of exposing its racist heart by accepting the lies being propagated about its neighbors to the south.

Yes, there is crime in Mexico.

But Mexico is not responsible for America’s problems. It is a small player in a much larger and much more complicated setting.

There is no invasion going on at the southern border. I’ve been there, I’ve crossed that border. There is no invasion.

There are no grounds for a national emergency, a fact the president admitted to in his rambling speech last week.

It cannot be declared simply to make good on a campaign promise, especially when the president stated rather arrogantly:

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this but I’d rather do it much faster.”

I didn’t need to do this? Then there is no imminent threat.

I’d rather do it much faster?

An ego stroke.

Meanwhile, we mourn.

We tell the families we are sorry.

But we do not take the necessary, albeit difficult, steps to protect the United States from itself.

And it’s a damn shame.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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