The vitriol has now reached a pitch so high as to likely preclude any sort of reasonable discussion and both sides are 100% at fault.
We have long known that counter to what seems reasonable, that the more people are forced to defend their own position on an issue the more (rather than less) they become committed to their position.
So every time a story headline on CNN reads “NRA’s paranoid fantasy flouts democracy” everyone who is at all in sympathy with the NRA and even many “neutral” gun owners feel attacked and will resist any sort of dialogue.
I looked for a similarly problematic headline on Foxnews.com, but couldn’t find one. Over the last week it has been the left who have been on the offensive to brand gun owners as morally deficient….which of course only has the effect of making 47% of Americans who have a gun at home more unwilling to consider any sort of new gun control legislation.
Then both sides dredge up the fringe crazies who threaten civil war or create a video game where the player murders the leaders of the NRA.
Symptomatic of the lack of thought being put forth in the debate is the NRA’s proposal to have all schools have “armed guards” in all schools. MSNBC lead the charge in calling for “more guns in schools” a terrible idea and anyone who says it isn’t’ is deranged. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called it “a shameful evasion of the gun crisis, devoid of soul-searching” and that the suggestion “offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe.”
HOLD ON! New York City schools have an entire school police division of over 5,000 “armed guards for its 1,700 schools. That’s way more than one each. So why the shocked rhetoric? I’ve been in many schools as a school social worker. I worked for a public school district for 12 years and all middle and high schools I’ve been in have resource officers, i.e. armed guards, as do some elementary schools. So is that deranged?
But, the NRA doesn’t get a pass; they didn’t propose who was to pay for resource officers in all elementary schools. If they had proposed paying with them with a gun & ammo tax they would have been credible, but I guess they think we should shift funds from paying teachers to paying police officers. Then the NRA puts out a stupid ad using the president’s kids as a foil asking why do his kids get armed protection and others don’t? Now it’s always inappropriate to use the children like that but that’s not the real hypocrisy. The real hypocrisy is that the same conservatives who fight gun control, typically also fight against the transfer of tax money from their rich schools to the poor…i.e. yes rich schools can afford a resource officer. The president’s answer was actually quite good, he said he refused to believe that armed guards are the ONLY answer. It was a hopeful answer, but one that left open the door to that as a possibility.
The politicians are no better. The entire debate about assault weapons is just silly. Both sides are quite right. The advocates of a ban say that military weapons have no place in civil society and a ban of assault weapons is not an infringement on the 2nd Amendment. The opponents say that the cosmetic things that make a gun an assault weapon (like a pistol grip or bayonet mount) do not make those weapons any more dangerous than those without them and the ban is just a symbolic gesture. They are also quite right. So why is either side fighting this silly fight? . Here is the link to the definition of an assault weapon, take a look and see if I’m right. http://www.jud.ct.gov/JI/criminal/glossary/assaultweapon.htm Why not let the other side have a hollow victory? The reason is that for activist and their political allies, this isn’t’ really about what will make a real difference; it is about winning. A hollow victory is still a victory and a hallow loss is still a loss.
If we are going to have an ugly national debate, I say we debate banning all self-loading weapons (in rifles they are called semi-auto and in pistols they are called autos). That is a meaningful debate worth having. Prior to the early 1980’s self-loading weapons were very rare in the civilian world. Self-loading weapons are what make mass shootings possible. One can change a 15 round magazine in 9mm Glock or an AR-15 in seconds, none of the prosed gun law changes will make these weapons less leather in a mass shooting setting. On the other hand, unless a person’s home is being assaulted by paratroopers, a .45 revolver or a pump shotgun is a more than adequate home defense. This country has long required federal licensure for sub-machine guns, machineguns, cannons & tanks. This law is unquestionably constitutional. The only difference between a self-loading rifle or pistol and an sub-machinegun is an inhibitor that reduces time it takes to empty a magazine from 6 seconds to 16 seconds and there is no barrier from simply changing that law to include all self-loading weapons. Such a law would have a huge impact on the ability for deranged people to shoot up a school or movie theater.
There are two reasons why law abiding people resist such logic. One is self-loading weapons are cool and fun. I’ll be candid. I own a WW2 vintage M1 Carbine that I bought when I was in the US Army Reserve so as to keep my shooting skills up to par using military type peep sites. Shooting it is cool even though it jams ever 4th round and is so inaccurate I would hate to ever think my life depended on it. I also inherited an 1800’s vintage Belgian made black-powder double barrel shotgun that I wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to load, let alone fire. I would not be quick to give up these two pieces of history.
The other reason gun owners are so obstinate is the rhetoric of some of the anti-gun lobby as mentioned before. Every time the anti-gun forces portray gun owners as morally deficient it convinces gun owners that their real intent is to confiscate all guns. There are some on the far left who truly do believe in an all-powerful government that controls every facet of life; however, that Marxian fringe does not represent the mainstream of gun control advocate, but they do disproportionally impact the rhetoric. President Obama has made it much worse with his claim that his administration has the right to kill American citizens that he deems a potential threat via drones without resorting to the niceties of trials or even warrants. In this way the advocates of gun control ensure there will be no gun control. If enacting real consensus gun control were the goal, the gun control advocates would need to condemn the radicals in their own ranks as well as the radicals on the right and build a centrist coalition. This is not happening.
If I were to put on my cynical hat, I’d say the gun-control “industry” and their political allies are not so stupid as to not know they are, by their actions, stymieing gun control. I would say the whole thing is a charade to benefit themselves with no intent in actually passing meaningful laws that would put them out of business. The NRA is shameless in the way it does this very thing, but by doing so they both get to be rich and powerful, but they also get what they want, no regulation. In that way the NRA and the gun-control groups are a symbiotic system, enriching and empowering themselves at public expense.
But of course, I’m not that cynical so I won’t say that.
I will say that it is time for a “REAL” gun control debate. I say a debate on the requiring federal licensure of all self-loading weapons has legitimate arguments on both sides and needs to be debated on a national scale.
In such a debate, no one is a villain for making arguments for or against. Civil society can only exist when we have civil debate.
Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.