Monday, September 2, 2019

Firearm Follies - This is the best essay on America's gun love that you will ever read

But before we get to that, Washington Post (conservative) columnist Max Boot lists 14 reasons I’ll vote for any Democrat over Trump.

When asked earlier this month whether he could support Sens. Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren if one became the Democratic presidential nominee, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was noncommittal. I have the utmost respect for Bloomberg, whose fiscally conservative and socially liberal views closely mirror my own, but I will vote for any Democratic nominee, even Warren or Sanders, despite my profound disagreement with their far-left agendas.

If I needed any further confirmation, it came during the second half of August. This was by no means the worst period of the Trump presidency, but it nevertheless offers a snapshot of why President Trump cannot under any circumstances be reelected. Here are 14 of the lowlights:

—Trump reversed his support for background checks for gun buyers — supported by 93 percent of Americans — under pressure from the gun lobby.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of Trump’s erratic and unpresidential behavior recently, but it gives you the flavor of a presidency whose defining features are crassness, cruelty, incompetence and — most of all — sheer craziness. I may not agree with Warren or Sanders on most issues, but I am confident they would not do any of the offensive and even impeachable acts that Trump commits with mind-numbing regularity. That is reason enough to vote for them, even if I would prefer a more moderate alternative. Saving U.S. democracy from a mad king matters more than the specific policies of his successor.

Oops. Where are the other 13? You don’t need me to list them. I have no doubt that you can list them without help from either me or Boot. But, if you need a reminder, check out Boot’s post.

Flags and flowers

I picked the one on gun control because illustrates so well the gelatinous stance taken by the president. And it fits the other Washington Post essay by opinion writer Paul Waldman musing about what would happen If we actually told the truth about guns.

Flags, Flowers, Fear, Fables, and Falsehoods

I rank this photo with its flags and flowers right up there with thoughts and prayers. All four of these things will not bring about resurrection of those departed - that is, those dispatched by one of America’s assault rifles, perfectly legally, natch. The one thing that distinguishes the United States from all other countries is that there are more guns than people. The data are irrefutable - unless you’re a gun lover or a Republican Senator. With apologies to those who plant flags and flowers after another of the dozens and dozens of mass shootings, I must point out that these acts, this planting of flags and flowers, serve the planter and not the plantee. They diminish fear but at the cost of the fables and falsehoods.

I was going to select some excerpts but I found this so compelling that I’m going to reprint it all right here. You can consult Waldman’s essay for the links to the evidence. Emphases below are from the original report.

With that introduction, now on to Waldman’s essay.

It’s beginning to feel like we’re living in a darkly satirical novel about the near future, when mass shootings have become so frequent that they’ve become part of the daily routine, one more unpleasant but unavoidable thing to worry about like traffic jams or thunderstorms. Every week or two, there’s another slaughter — sometimes more than one on the same day — after which we just repeat our preferred responses, then prepare to do it all again, and again, and again.

The latest massacre — 7 dead and nearly two dozen injured in Texas — is the latest in a long list from that state alone. In that state, the governor encourages people to buy more guns and a new set of laws now allow you to take your gun to church and prohibit landlords from banning guns in rental properties. I’m sure Texans feel safer already.

For those of us who try to argue for change in our country’s laws to somehow slow this parade of torn flesh and stolen lives, the debate itself has a maddening quality to it. Most of the arguments gun advocates make are so disingenuous, so divorced from the facts, so downright ludicrous that it’s simply impossible to believe that they themselves believe them.

So imagine if you could administer truth serum to the gun advocates whose desires have shaped our gun laws, to force them to tell the truth about guns. What would they say?

The first thing they’d say: The rote response we give after every mass shooting is just playacting. President Trump will say, “We’re looking at a lot of different things. We’re looking at a lot of different bills, ideas, concepts,” but he’s not going to do anything. He’ll claim that he’s going to stand up to the National Rifle Association, but then he’ll cave. Republicans in Congress will make sure no bill offering even the mildest controls on gun ownership will pass, even if it’s supported by 93 percent of the public. We may offer up our “thoughts and prayers,” but our main thought is “Can’t we talk about something else?” and our prayer is that voters don’t decide to change the situation we’re in.

They’d also say, When we argue “We have a mental illness problem, not a gun problem,” we cringe a little at how dishonest we’re being. We know there are people who struggle with mental illness in every country on Earth, just as there are men prone to violence against their wives, and men who get fired from their jobs, and men with hate in their hearts. We know that what makes America different is all the guns.

The next thing they’d say: We know that more guns don’t equal less crime. Because if that were true, then not only would America have the lowest crime rates in the industrialized world (which we don’t), but also the places with the most guns would be the safest places (which they aren’t).

And then: We know that the “good guy with a gun” taking out a mass shooter is a fantasy. It’s something that rarely happens despite all the millions of people walking around with guns. But we love that fantasy. It’s a big part of the attraction of guns. Just thinking about it makes us feel strong and capable and manly, as though we could turn into action heroes at a moment’s notice, exchanging fire with a terrorist strike team or saving a bunch of innocent kids from a mad killer.

And: We know that guns are not the only protection against tyranny, no matter how many times we say otherwise. The very idea is absurd. If it were true, there would have been authoritarian takeovers in recent years in Britain, and France, and Sweden, and Norway, and … you get the idea.

Finally, here’s the most fundamental truth of all the gun advocates would admit if you forced them to:

All this death and misery? The thousands of gun homicides and gun suicides and mass shootings? We don’t like it, sure. But it’s a price we’re willing to pay. We love our guns so much that we think all that horror is something the rest of you should just have to put up with. Maybe there’s some amount of gun deaths that would make us say “I’m willing to accept some inconvenience and limits on my gun rights to do something about this.” Would 100,000 dead Americans a year be enough? Five hundred thousand? We don’t really know. But whatever that number might be, nearly 40,000 per year, what we currently experience, isn’t enough. One mass shooting after another after another isn’t enough.

That’s what the gun advocates would say if you gave them truth serum. And there might even be one or two things advocates of more restrictions would have to admit if you did the same to them, such as Yes, I actually would like to ban guns, even if I know it’s not going to happen.

Me too, Bro. Will America ever get over its fornication with fire arms?

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