Two Days to Go: Don’t Forget the Gun Problem

It’s only been eight-and-a-half months since the kids from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School suffered what would be seen as an unthinkable tragedy in virtually any other free country in the world. In response, many of the survivors rose up as a force on the political scene in a way I have never seen before, and I’ve been working on the gun problem for 35 years and I have a friend who lost a child at Columbine.

It’s simply not enough to be mad about the fact that our kids are not safe in schools. You also have to be royally pissed that, almost nine months later, Republicans, who currently run the federal government, have done absolutely nothing to mitigate the problem. And for the record, Republicans can stick their “thoughts and prayers” straight up their corpulent asses, because they have proven them meaningless. 

It would be bad enough if the Parkland massacre was the first and only school shooting of the year, but it was far from that. It happened on Valentine’s Day, the 45th day of the year, and about a dozen school shootings had already happened by then. By then, there had been more than 200 school shootings since the Sandy Hook tragedy, in which 26 human beings were shot and killed in an elementary school, including 20 babies under the age of 7. In the first 24 hours following Parkland, Republican politicians were desperately trying to make people think they gave a shit, even as they were proclaiming that no form of “gun control” would have prevented any aspect of this. Every Republican who spoke about this tragedy trafficked in this NRA-style horseshit. On the other hand, the minority Democratic Party was proposing reasonable solutions that would cut down on the numbers. 

Every one of these stories gives me a sick feeling in my stomach. Bullets are flying all over and we’re all at risk, and yet, one entire political party does absolutely nothing about it and convinces their voters nothing can be done about it because of a completely fictional version of the Second Amendment, which apparently confers an absolute right on everyone to carry any gun they wish, without restriction. Someone I know actually took a bullet in his leg while waiting for a traffic light a few years back and, to this day, no one knows where is came from; it seems to have been a stray. And no, Republicans, this person does not live in Chicago. I weep for what is happening to my country with regard to guns, because I can’t help but imagine my son facing such terror when he was high school age, or worse, when he was in first or second grade, as were those tiny children who were mowed down while learning in the safety of their classroom.

Of course, then I get pissed when I am bombarded with the usual Republican bullshit arguments like the classic “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” and the variation on that, “We have to stop the people; guns are just the tools. Going after the tools won’t stop this.”  It’s the best they can do because even the staunchest gunloon knows deep down there is no excuse for allowing a pissed off 19-year-old to walk into a gun store and walk out with a gun and enough ammunition to shoot nearly three dozen children. 

Once again, let me clarify. When I use the term “gunloon,” it does not refer to all gun owners, but the people who live and breathe by their guns. These are people who believe anything the NRA tells them and who believe a gun possesses magical powers, like the power to keep everyone in the family safe just by being present in the home. These are people who don’t think there should be any restrictions on gun ownership because they imagine every gun owner is Rambo and every “bad guy” can be stopped just because someone nearby is armed. The vast majority of people who own guns are not gunloons and have the common sense to realize that some people should be restricted when it comes to access. 

We liberals should be winning this issue because we make sense. Nearly everyone in the country agrees with us on common sense gun control by now. And yet, we can’t we get the most basic gun control passed. And the reason is so simple, it should be maddening to every liberal in the country. Unfortunately, too many liberals, mostly the white and well-off types, have no common sense when it comes to politics. For instance, Bernie Stans and other unicorn progressives are always trying to convince me that Democrats and Republicans suffer from the same political uselessness. They refuse to admit that the Republican Party as hopelessly corrupt and downright anti-American. They portray the Democrats as basically carbon copies of Republicans and they promote the concept that BOTH major political parties are the problem, which is absurd. 

There is also the problem of messaging, as in, the professional left has no sense of what a political message should look or sound like. Just yesterday, I reposted my “liberal manifesto” and several of them sent me messages claiming I needed to be more detailed. “More detailed” is only good for “political junkies,” and the vast majority of voters are not that.

When unicorn progressives and professional lefties react to a school shootings or other mass shooting, they focus on the one particular gun used to perpetrate the crime, usually an AR-15, and they propose a ban on that particular gun. In some cases, they’ll suggest a ban on “assault rifles” or “military-style weapons,” which does not address any of the problems. Banning AR-15s and other “military-style weapons” would be like putting a finger bandage on a gaping belly wound. Then, there are those who think the solution has something to do with “addressing mental health issues,” as if all “mental health issues” are essentially the same. A lot of people have mental health issues, and most of them don’t shoot anyone. 

Unfortunately, the unicorn progressive types and the professional lefties all demand a simple solution to this and every problem, even when there is no such thing. This problem requires us to address what we all call the “gun culture,” which can’t be done by banning a few choice weapons. We need a strong gun control structure in place; one that limits the types of guns people can keep in their homes and implementing restrictions that serve to keep guns away from people who should not have them. More than anything, we have to try to address a societal problem through the use of a political solution, which means we have to make people have hope and feel safe, so they don’t feel the need to stockpile weapons in their homes.

We were actually on our way to becoming that progressive country back in the 1960s, but too many progressives lost their way and dropped out of mainstream politics. Well, guess what? It is time or ALL of you to drop back into the mainstream. The solution is to once again to get fully behind the Democratic Party and to work against the current version of the GOP. I know, many of you have a dream of a “progressive” third party, but you’ve had 50 years now, and you have done nothing. The key issue with regard to gun control is to make easy access to guns by people who simply should not have a gun a lot less easy. People who are angry about something should not be able to go to a gun shop and walk out with a weapon as easily as the rest of us go to Target and buy a toaster. However, we also have to deal with the concept that many Americans equate having a gun with their personal safety.

We have all seen the statistics. We all know about the Kellerman Study, which says that it is FAR more likely that a gun in the home will kill someone who lives there than an intruder. Because the Republican Party has had too much control for too long and is too beholden to the NRA, our society has come to believe that having a gun means a greater level of personal safety. Unfortunately, the liberal side of the politics keeps handing them elections. The Republican mindset has us spending far too much on drug interdiction and under GOP rule, there are too many laws on the books regarding personal behavior, and not enough about things that kill us, in part because they owe a major debt to the NRA.

Liberals, Tuesday’s 2018 midterm is part one of our chance to begin to change everything, although it will take a major change in our own mindset to make it happen. Our problem is that many progressives see every issue through a prism, wherein each individual event is separate from every other event, and every issue stands on its own as a problem with a simple solution.

Yes, we will have to change gun laws, to make it easier for law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. But to do that, we’ll have to lose the “ban on guns” concept that tends to shut off debate. Mental health care is an issue, but that, too, will require a progressive change in mindset.  We have to build a society in which violence is unacceptable as a solution to a problem. For example, it’s disturbing that so many gunloons lump protection of their “stuff” in with the protection of their families as their rationale for needing the protection of a gun. If shooting someone to death to protect your big screen tv is acceptable by a large number of Americans, then you can’t say guns are the whole problem at all.

We also need to end the drug war, so that police can concentrate on actually keeping us safe. Ending the drug war would probably cut our gun-death rate by a large number, anyway, as well as provide us with more revenue to expand Obamacare and make mental health services available to even more people.

There is so much to do, progressives, and we’re the people to do it. We have the ideas, the only question is, can we create the political will to actually put them into action. I’ll be discussing ways to do that going forward.

We have to do this, for the children.

Also published on Medium.

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