Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Republican Party And The Dangerous Cult Of Gun Worshippers


Should this convicted murdered have had a gun to use against fire fighters?

By now you've probably read that the NRA's spokesloon, Wayne LaPierre, made an embarrassing and crazy statement about gun violence on Meet the Press that helped further turn the tide away from his group's advocacy of the gun manufacturers' agenda. Even before the senseless murder of firefighters in Rochester, New York, by another insane gun nut on Christmas Eve, libertarian icon Ron Paul turned against the NRA's demand that schools become armed camps, calling government security "just another kind of violence."
Let’s not forget that our own government policies often undermine civil society, cheapen life, and encourage immorality.  The president and other government officials denounce school violence, yet still advocate for endless undeclared wars abroad and easy abortion at home.  U.S. drone strikes kill thousands, but nobody in America holds vigils or devotes much news coverage to those victims, many of which are children, albeit, of a different color.

Obviously I don’t want to conflate complex issues of foreign policy and war with the Sandy Hook shooting, but it is important to make the broader point that our federal government has zero moral authority to legislate against violence.

Furthermore, do we really want to live in a world of police checkpoints, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, X-ray scanners, and warrantless physical searches?  We see this culture in our airports: witness the shabby spectacle of once proud, happy Americans shuffling through long lines while uniformed TSA agents bark orders.  This is the world of government provided "security," a world far too many Americans now seem to accept or even endorse.  School shootings, no matter how horrific, do not justify creating an Orwellian surveillance state in America.

Do we really believe government can provide total security?  Do we want to involuntarily commit every disaffected, disturbed, or alienated person who fantasizes about violence?  Or can we accept that liberty is more important than the illusion of state-provided security? Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place.  Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens’ lives.  We shouldn’t settle for substituting one type of violence for another. Government role is to protect liberty, not to pursue unobtainable safety.
Paul is retiring from Congress in a few weeks, as is Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who agrees with him, and neither is afraid the get in the NRA's face. The rest of the GOP congressional delegation is... terrified, in fact. None of them have followed public opinion enough to distance themselves from the NRA's self-serving support of violence and mayhem. With Obama urging Congress to take action and progressives coming right out and roundly condemning the NRA call for armed guards in schools, the Republican Party is sort of stuck in the middle holding its pecker and looking foolish and frightened. Believe me there are no Republicans-- not even one-- in Congress who would think of buying into a sensible statement like this one from Jerry Nadler (D-NY):
“The NRA’s response to the Newtown massacre is both ludicrous and insulting, and they are fundamentally out of step with the American people on the issue of gun violence.  Instead of making a sincere and good faith concession toward gun control reform-- like enhanced, universal background checks, which the vast majority of its members support-- the NRA has offered a fantasy suggestion for congressional action on a massive federal spending increase, backed by a disingenuous offer of NRA-funded training premised on that fantasy being actualized.

“What happened to their promise for a ‘meaningful contribution?’  To argue that kids are not safe because too few ‘good guys’ have guns is to ignore every fact on the ground.  The armed personnel at Columbine and Fort Hood, tragically, could not prevent the shooters from committing mass murder.

“And, beyond the cost of providing armed guards for each school-- $5.4 billion a year just for salaries, in some estimates-- this remedy does nothing to provide checks on ‘bad guys’ gaining access to guns or to remove the most dangerous and unnecessary types of firearms from circulation.  What we need is NOT more guns but sensible gun control legislation, including a ban on assault weapons and a comprehensive buyback program, a robust and centralized system of background checks, and a reassessment of our mental health services.”
Republicans are paralyzed with fear-- too scared to get behind LaPierre's demands for guns in schools and too scared to go up against the NRA. Silly little closet case, Lindsey Graham, desperate to appeal to the worst elements of the Know-Nothing GOP base in South Carolina, ran to the TV cameras to brag how he owns a semi-automatic weapon. “I own an AR-15. I've got it at my house. The question is, if you deny me the right to buy another one, have you made America safer? My belief is that this is a problem where you try to get mass murderers off the street before they act, by better mental-health detection. You try to find ways to understand what makes them who they are. But I don't suggest we ban every movie with a gun in it, and every video that's violent. And I don't suggest you take my right to buy an AR-15 away from me, because I don't think it will work. And I do believe better security in schools is a good place to start."

Graham is very used to standing around holding his pecker and looking foolish; he's made a whole career out of it. And when he reads polls that says Americans support banning assault weapons outright, he knows that means actual Americans, not unreconstructed wingnuts in South Carolina, the GOP base. But Republicans haven't always been so completely under the control of the NRA and the gun manufacturers they front. A few years ago Richard Poe did a post for the pro-gun, right-wing website, Newsmax, Don't Blame Liberals For Gun Control, which looks at how Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Nixon tried to solve the problem of gun violence in America. "Republicans, in recent years," he asserts, "have managed to do nearly as much damage to the Second Amendment as Democrats." Poe wrote because he was worried that Bush II might be another anti-gun Republican or that "the monolithic commitment America’s 'ruling classes' have shown toward gun control makes one wonder whether even a president is free to buck the current."
In 1969, journalist William Safire asked Richard Nixon what he thought about gun control. "Guns are an abomination," Nixon replied. According to Safire, Nixon went on to confess that, "Free from fear of gun owners' retaliation at the polls, he favored making handguns illegal and requiring licenses for hunting rifles."

It was President George Bush, Sr. who banned the import of "assault weapons" in 1989, and promoted the view that Americans should only be allowed to own weapons suitable for "sporting purposes."

It was Governor Ronald Reagan of California who signed the Mulford Act in 1967, "prohibiting the carrying of firearms on one's person or in a vehicle, in any public place or on any public street." The law was aimed at stopping the Black Panthers, but affected all gun owners.

Twenty-four years later, Reagan was still pushing gun control. "I support the Brady Bill," he said in a March 28, 1991 speech, "and I urge the Congress to enact it without further delay."

One of the most aggressive gun control advocates today is Republican mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City, whose administration sued 26 gun manufacturers in June 2000, and whose police commissioner, Howard Safir, proposed a nationwide plan for gun licensing, complete with yearly "safety" inspections.

Another Republican, New York State Governor George Pataki, on August 10, 2000, signed into law what the New York Times called "the nation’s strictest gun controls," a radical program mandating trigger locks, background checks at gun shows and "ballistic fingerprinting" of guns sold in the state. It also raised the legal age to buy a handgun to 21 and banned "assault weapons," the sale or possession of which would now be punishable by seven years in prison.
I have no faith whatsoever that Obama has the ability to stand up to Republican opposition and I'm guessing his attempt to get Congress to ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition will turn into some kind of pathetic compromise with the dedicated enemies of civil society and that any change will be more change for the worse, the only change Obama ever brings.

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At 6:38 AM, Blogger Chuck C. Campbell said...

Thanks for this...We have to do something, it may take MANY years to get rid of hand guns and "non sporting rifles," but we have to start NOW.


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