Tag: Jon Stewart

Guns are bad, m'kay?

noguns

Guess what. America had another school shooting. Because it's a regular week on Earth.

I realize that this is just screaming into the void (and apologies in advance, this post will probably have more swearing in it than is typical). The Nashville incident this week that resulted in seven deaths barely registers a blip on the societal consciousness because we are so goddamned used to it.

There have been 38 mass shootings in the US just this month. There were 40 last month. 53 in January. A lot of media types are reporting on the specifics of the Nashville case—because it's the newest, it's fresh—looking for motive and details and insights into the perpetrator as an individual, which is, OK, fine, I guess, but that's not what I want to see coverage of. I want to see journalists, protesters, people in general badgering Congress and state legislatures to regulate the fucking guns.

Reporters did approach Tennessee Congressman Tim Burchett on the subject on Monday, which is good. Burchett is a Republican, though, so his response was not helpful. It was, however, relatively honest, which is notable in and of itself for an elected representative identifying with that party. He said, "We're not gonna fix it."

Whether he says that because he believes it's pointless to try or because he doesn't care about gun deaths or because he's too deeply in the thrall of the National Rifle Association's profit motive is up to interpretation, but the bottom line is right there. Burchett elaborated (if you can even apply that word) with, "I don’t think a criminal is going to stop from guns [sic], you know … I don’t think you’re going to stop the gun violence." By which he means, he doesn't think you, the empathetic concerned citizenry, can stop it because we, the Republican party, have enough power to ensure it keeps happening and that suits us just fine.

"We're not gonna fix it."

That is but one of the many reasons it is appropriate to label the modern Republican Party as a domestic terrorist organization.

The House Majority Leader, Congressman Steve Scalise, was asked what he thinks should be done about this issue. His response was eminently predictable. "I pray for the victims. I pray for the families. I get really angry when people try to politicize it for their own personal agenda," he said, trying to mask his own politicizing of the problem. The Senate chaplain, Barry Black, wasn't having it. "It's time to move beyond thoughts and prayers," he said in a prayer service he was leading for Senators. "Lord, deliver our senators from the paralysis of analysis that waits for the miraculous." I suppose that's the chaplain version of "kick these senators and other leaders squarely in the ass and make them act, because they sure as hell won't do it on their own."

Republicans behave as if this is just the normal course of life in America. But when I was growing up, we didn't have active shooter drills in school. We didn't fear that criminals were out there with AR-15 style assault rifles. We have always had a gun-fetishist culture that romanticizes the mistaken idea of the "old west gunslinger," but even in the old west there were, you know, regulations—you show up in town, you had to surrender your guns. The famous gunfight at the OK Corral? It happened because the Clanton gang wouldn't surrender their guns in accordance with the law. Tombstone, Arizona, had more gun control in 1881 that it does now.

I don't know when the NRA managed to convince Republicans that the second amendment to the Constitution didn't actually contain the phrase "well-regulated" or "safety of a free state"—maybe when they trotted out Charlton Heston to speak for them—but at some point the orthodox Republican position became that there should be no laws whatsoever restricting anyone's access to firearms of any kind. Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Warren Burger said in a 1991 interview that the second amendment "has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud [perpetrated] on the American public." Many Republicans know this. Not all of them are insane Alex Jones types, plenty are smart enough to understand what the language of the amendment means and what the intent was with the wording as understood when it was written in the 18th century. But they do not care.

"We're not gonna fix it."

Once, we had a ban on assault rifles. It was effective, so Republicans made sure it went away. Now the assault rifle is a status symbol. Gun fetishists all have to have one. Or two. Or a dozen. Reinstating that ban would be a good start, but it's nowhere near enough.

I've known people that own guns. Most of them were the sort of person I would not trust with one. When I was a teenager I had a friend that lived with her father, a guy I knew to be a drunk and a real piece of shit, and there were multiple guns in her house. I never wanted to be there. I've known people who are not like that, that are basically well-intentioned sorts, that own guns. I had the impression they had them with the perhaps-sublimated hope that they would have an excuse to use them. I've even known a couple of folks who owned one "just for protection" against home invasion or the like. They, I thought, owned their guns out of fear and were far more likely to have the gun used against them or used poorly so that it offered no protection at all.

I have a bias, obviously. I do not support private ownership of firearms at all when it comes to handguns and other guns intended to kill human beings. I find hunting to be revolting, though I respect that it's a different thing and in and of itself can be regulated separately, but mass shootings like this never seem to be carried out with buckshot. Like the Nashville shooter, the perps tend to have assault rifles and handguns. And if we banned those fucking things, I can't help but believe these incidents would decrease dramatically.

They wouldn't completely go away. There's plenty of evidence to suggest that if someone wants to get something illegal, they'll find a way to get it. But it'll take a lot longer, take a lot more effort, and weed out a great many of the prospective perpetrators. Every other developed country on the planet has mental illness among the populace, has media with gratuitous violence, but only the United States has essentially unfettered access to guns and only the United States has dozens of mass shootings every month. Restricting access to guns would prevent many of these incidents, would save lives.

But we can't do anything like that. We can't ban assault rifles, let alone handguns, because Republicans have power and Republicans like violence. Too simplistic? OK, prove me wrong. Republicans like violence. They promote policies that encourage violence. They want criminals to have the very best armaments possible. In fact, they want everyone to be armed to the teeth and settle their problems with a bullet to the head, or at least the threat of one. Why else do they behave the way they do? Give me a convincing argument against that. "We're not gonna fix it" is their doctrine.

Well before this latest mass shooting, Jon Stewart interviewed a state senator in Oklahoma about his efforts to make acquiring and using firearms as simple and uninhibited as possible. It's a great/horrifying interview in which Stewart rams home the hypocrisy of this guy's positions and spotlights just how much this senator in particular and the modern Republican party more generally does not care about gun violence. The whole thing is on his Apple TV+ show, but the bulk of it is available here.

 

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