As senators reached a final agreement this week on a narrow, bipartisan gun safety bill that marked the first gun control measure to pass Congress in decades, John Mellencamp was not impressed. The outspoken Indiana-bred rocker who’s spent nearly half a century chronicling the many stages of the American dream lashed out at what he deemed the “vague notion” of doing something from the nation’s legislators.
“Only in America, and I mean only, in America, can 21 people be murdered and a week later be buried and forgotten, with a flimsy little thumbnail, a vague notion of some sort of gun control law laying on the senators’ desks,” wrote Mellencamp, referring to the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas where an 18-year-old gunman in body armor wielding a military-style semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle stormed the school and allegedly murdered 19 fourth grade children and 2 teachers.
“What kind of people are we who claim that we care about pro-life?” Mellencamp continued. “Just so you know, anyone that’s reading this… politicians don’t give a f–k about you, they don’t give a f–k about me, and they don’t give a f–k about our children. So, with that cheery thought in mind, have a happy summer, because it will be just a short time before it happens again.”
Mellencamp seemed to be channeling the frustration of many Americans, who’ve endured more than 250 mass shootings so far this year. The missive came a day before Senate negotiators announced a deal on the new gun legislation, which is expected to have enough Republican support to clear a filibuster in the Senate; leaders in the Democrat-majority House are expected to quickly consider the bill and pass it along to Pres. Biden to sign.
Though the bill lacked many of the gun control measures that Democrats said could have possibly stopped the Uvalde massacre — or the allegedly racially motivated killing of 10 people by an 18-year-old gunman who used a military-style assault rifle in Buffalo, New York just weeks earlier — it does hit a few key benchmarks for putting restrictions on gun purchases in a nation awash in nearly 400 million weapons. It will expand background checks for prospective gun buyers between 18-21 while incentivizing states to provide access to previously sealed juvenile records that could extend the waiting period before a gun purchase can go through.
The bill also adds $750 million to help states implement and run crisis intervention “red flag” programs to keep guns out of the hands of those who might be a threat to themselves or others, closes the “boyfriend” loophole in the domestic violence law that bars people convicted of domestic violence crimes against spouses or partners from having guns and requires more gun sellers to register as federally licensed firearms dealers, among other provisions.
The horrifying mass killings in Uvalde and Buffalo were the latest shocks to a nation in which two-thirds of citizens support moderate or strong regulations on gun ownership, including 53% of Republicans. Despite that majority, little to no gun-related legislation has passed in Congress in decades because of opposition from Republican lawmakers beholden to the NRA and other pro-gun lobbying groups.
Mellencamp isn’t the only musician to speak out with anger in the wake of the Uvalde mass shooting. Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks also called for stricter gun control in the days after the school assault, as did Selena Gomez, John Legend, Olivia Rodrigo, Cardi B and Britney Spears, among many others.
See Mellencamp’s post below.
— John Mellencamp (@johnmellencamp) June 21, 2022