Thoughts On Yesterday

For the moment, there’s nothing else of substance to be said about the gun control battle. The lines have been drawn in the sand; the first blows have been exchanged. Our side lost this round, but there will be others. The overwhelmingly sad fact is that as long as things remain as they are, we’re never going to run out of tragedies that will add fuel to the fire of this debate. That’s not the same thing as hoping for more violence. Rather, it is the sad realization that until something changes, this is how things are going to be until we finally have enough people saying, “we tried it your way. Now let’s try it ours.

For now, though, all the good zings have been zung. In my opinion, Gabby Gifford’s scathing editorial was the most poignant. I tried to find an editorial from the gun rights side of things; the best I could do was John Cornyn’s criticism of President Obama’s speech yesterday. Hardly a fair comparison, I admit, but then, this wasn’t exactly a fair fight.

I did look at a few conservative news sites to see what else might be out there, but the first article on the Drudge Report was NRA: “Obama  ‘bit off more than he could chew, an article so vile and callous that I wouldn’t dare choose this to be the representation of the other side. It’s too fucking cruel. My first thought was that it was actually just very cold satire and part of me still hopes that’s the case.

So the other side gets Cornyn to sum up the day, because while he may not be the most eloquent representation, at least he doesn’t come across having been spawned in the darkest depths of some writhing abyss. Banality or pure evil; those seem to be the choices here.

Meanwhile, In The Senate

Like I said in my previous post, today was a good day to be a gun in America. The reactions from most decently minded citizens was one of disbelief more than anything:

Kirsten Gillibrand : W/90% support, it’s absurd that we were unable to summon the political will to pass universal background checks. The Senate truly is broken.

There was also the reaction from those watching from the Senate gallery:

Among those looking on from the gallery, Lori Haas, whose daughter was shot at Virginia Tech, and Patricia Maisch, a survivor of the mass shooting in Tucson, shouted, “Shame on you.” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who presided over the votes, then asked for decorum.

The urge to give into cynicism is strong right now. The system seems broken, doesn’t it? It feels broken. It seems like playing by the rules is the best way to lose. It seems that a small but hysterically loud minority has been allowed to have the run of the country, simply because it’s the loudest and shrillest voice in the room. Is there anything left to do, but wait for the current crop of conservatives to succumb to old age and hope that the playing field is more fair the next time around?

I say no. Never give into despair. Everyone except Fox News agrees that the conservative leadership in this country is on the verge of collapse unless it reforms. These are the last gasps of a desperate minority struggling to hold onto their power. For them, the stakes are high enough to go beyond the point of reason. There is no incentive to play fair at this point.

I do not believe that this will stand forever. With each blatant defiance of the public will, the tide turns against them more. Each action that these NRA-owned senators take that prioritizes the gun lobby over the will of the people will reveal them for what they are: sycophants of special interests.

Amid those voices protesting is Tucson’s own Gabby Giffords, who needs no introduction, calling for resolve in the face of despair:

Former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely injured in the Tucson shooting, wrote in a Twitter message: “Senate ignored will of the people & rejected background checks. Im not giving up. Constituents will know they obeyed gun lobby and not them.”

To the question of what can we do now in the face of this latest defeat, Giffords had this to say:

Over two years ago, when I was shot point-blank in the head, the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing. Four months ago, 20 first-graders lost their lives in a brutal attack on their school, and the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing. It’s clear to me that if members of the U.S. Senate refuse to change the laws to reduce gun violence, then we need to change the members of the U.S. Senate. 

If this is how these senators wish to govern, I argue that they are no longer deserving of the responsibility. I don’t think I’m alone in holding this opinion:

“I was extremely disappointed,” said retired Col. Bill Badger, one of the people who tackled Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson. “When 90 percent of the people want something, and the senator votes against them, the next election, we’re going to take care of those senators, because they’re not representing the people.”

No matter how it shakes down, at the end of the day, you cannot ignore the will of the people like this. The political will to carry on the fight is still there and this particular fight is not over. There are too many people now who care too deeply about this to let the gun lobby bury this cause, as has been done so many times in the past. Maybe it’s time to consider reforming the filibuster. Maybe it’s time to consider the so-called “nuclear option.”

To those Republicans (and the small handful of Democrats) who bowed to the pressure brought on by the gun lobby, remember that it was the people who gave you those Senate seats.

The people can just as easily take them away.

Arizona: A Great Place To Be A Gun

The news today was great if you’re a gun. Or if you’re a person who makes and sells guns. Or if you – well, you get the point. Let’s talk about Arizona’s Gun Buyback program first.

The plan was to try and get some unwanted guns out of people’s homes with the guarantee that those guns wouldn’t end up in the hands of those who might do harm. Not an unreasonable concern, considering how easy it is to acquire a firearm without a background check of any kind. It was going to be a drop in the bucket anyway compared to the number of guns still out there, but you never know; one less gun could mean the difference to at least one person. It was, you might say, a symbolic action in the same vein as Bisbee’s proposed civil union law.

And like Bisbee’s symbolic civil union law, the gun buyback program has been blocked. Well, not blocked exactly, but gutted all the same. You can still turn your unwanted gun in. However, the city or county now must take that gun and sell it to a federally licensed dealer instead of destroying it as was intended. Guns seized by police already have to be sold in this fashion, per Arizona law, which means that, as Bob Christie notes in his article, “the gun used to shoot U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords might end up back on the street.” Great law, that.

Here’s the thing that really brings my blood to a boil:

It’s not about protecting Second Amendment rights, it’s about protecting the taxpayers,” said Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Peoria. He also argued that the state doesn’t require the destruction of cars involved in fatal accidents, so requiring guns to be destroyed is simply a feel-good measure that protects no one.

Bull. Fucking. Shit.

Look, I get the fact that as a Republican, you have to bow to the almighty power of the gun lobby, but at least be fucking honest about it. Stand up and cop to it; you’re opposing this because the NRA demands that you oppose everything that even has the faintest springtime scent of gun control. Admit that this is what you’re doing, because it’s agonizingly obvious to the rest of us that this is what you’re doing.

Furthermore, the argument Rep. Murphy uses to justify his bullshit rhetoric is that we don’t require the destruction of cars in fatal automobile accidents. This ignores the fact that in many instances, a collision severe enough to kill a person is usually enough to destroy the vehicle involved. So, you know, you have that working against your claim. Furthermore, you’re not even addressing the same fucking issue! This isn’t even about the law requiring the state to sell seized guns. This was about a program designed to take some guns off the street and keep them from circulating.

Democrats argued that Republicans complain about the federal government when it requires the state to take action, yet they’re quick to force local governments to do what they want. “We hate it when the federal government mandates it to the state, and we’re doing the same thing,” said Sen. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma.

How the hell anybody can argue that the Republican party is the party of small government is beyond me at this point. This is not the action of a small government philosophy! These are the blatant actions of a party that has capitulated to its most powerful lobbying group because to do otherwise would mean the effective end of the party as a political entity.

I get why they’re doing it. I guess at this point, I’d just appreciate a little bit of honesty as they do it.