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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"... we are stalked by something uniquely American: death by gunshot ... why hasn’t Congress taken steps to protect our safety. Because Republicans refuse."

*  A little kid got on the school bus wearing a T-shirt with the slogan "Proud to be a Democrat." The bus driver asked why he was a Democrat and the kid said "Because my parents are Democrats."   "So," said the bus driver, "What if your parents were lying, biblethumping, gun-loving, hypocrites? Then what?" The kid replied: "Then we'd be Republicans."
*  A fairly well reasoned, fact based article in my mind.
*  He already addressed this disengenuous argument. Gun control is the only issue where people argue that if a measure doesn't prevent every incident, than any law is useless. By that argument, all traffic laws should be eliminated, because they don't prevent all road deaths.
*  The NRA reacts to nothing.... they have no soul.
*  I blame religious dominionism and toxic masculinity.
*  It is profoundly shameful how the GOP is owned by the NRA.
Partners in Death: The GOP and the NRA
By Richard North Patterson, March 29, 2016

The tragic toll of war stupefies and stuns. In the 240 years since the Revolutionary War, we have sacrificed nearly 1.4 million Americans to war. In itself, this number is hard to grasp.

But harder yet is to reckon the human cost — of husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters; of perished potential; of achievements and kindnesses which will never be; of families forever shattered. However justified some wars may be, war sobers us, diminishes us, cheats us. We struggle to find some national purpose to console us, some nobility of spirit to uplift us. We mourn the tragedies of Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, the wars of our last half-century.

In less than that same half-century, from the murders of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy until now, guns have claimed over 1.5 million Americans — 100,000 more deaths than in all the wars of our history.

Here there is no nobility, no consolation, no parades or speeches or monuments or national days of remembrance. Nothing but the indelible stain of mindless butchery and private sorrow.

Every year, year after year, we lose over 30,000 more of us to homicides, suicides and preventable accidents. Every day, we average more than one mass shooting — four or more people dead or wounded. Perhaps a name attaches to that day: Charleston, San Bernardino, Sandy Hook; perhaps we see a memorial service on our screen. Beneath such days are buried the death of 88 more people that day, and every other.

And the carnage moves inexorably forward. In the first two months of 2016, we have had 28 mass shootings. In two weeks time, we have added the names of Kalamazoo and Hesston, Kansas to this litany of shame. And yet nothing changes.

Why? It is not that America has more crime — our crime rates are comparable to other advanced countries. Instead we are stalked by something uniquely American: death by gunshot — four times more per million than the next highest country, Switzerland; 20 more times than Australia. America is the first worlds’ slaughterhouse.

Most Americans deplore that. A solid majority believes the the epidemic of deaths by gunshot is a serious problem; that mass shootings are something that can be stopped; and that our gun laws should be aimed at stemming these tragedies. Indeed, over 90 percent of Americans support background checks for all gun purchases. So why hasn’t Congress taken steps to protect our safety.

Because Republicans refuse.

Amidst the comprehensive moral and intellectual collapse of the GOP, nothing captures its utter bankruptcy more than the issue of gun violence. Lest this seem too stark, we must consider its stunning record of rhetorical and legislative obedience to the NRA.

Start with the party’s most recent presidential candidates. At the height of the campaign season, the massacres in Kalamazoo and Kansas provoked no comment. To a person, they oppose any legislation or government measures whatsoever to prevent gun violence. Instead, their answer is more guns in the hands of more Americans, no matter how dangerous an individual may be. As for gun safety legislation, they consistently — and falsely — characterize it as an effort to confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens.

Three of the principal contenders suffice to capture this cowardice and cynicism will:”You don’t stop the bad guys by taking away our guns,” Ted Cruz says. “You stop the bad guys by using our guns, and a free and armed American citizenry is how we keep ourselves safe.” The recently-departed “mainstream” choice, Marco Rubio, asserts that “gun laws fail everywhere they’re tried.”

Attempting to outdo his rivals, the probable nominee Donald Trump claims that “we already have tremendous regulations. Now, if you look at my opponents, they’re very weak on the Second Amendment. I’m very very strong.” Again and again, Trump suggests that the only solution to gun violence is for Americans to carry weapons wherever they go.

And they mean it. For example, as senators both Cruz and Rubio voted against expanded background checks to keep dangerous people from acquiring guns . Both opposed banning high-capacity magazines of over 10 bullets. And on and on, for there is not a single measure to reduce the toll of death that they support.

This opposition is not grounded in reason. Instead, the GOP hides behind a shopworn litany of excuses which do not withstand scrutiny.

First, there are the myths perpetuated by the gun lobby about self-defense. No question that law-abiding citizens have the perfect right to buy a gun for self-defense or any other lawful purpose. Advocates for gun safety laws don’t debate this. To the contrary, they believe that, to the extent possible, the law should protect all of us — whether we choose to own guns or not — by keeping dangerous people from acquiring weapons

There is certainly a need for such protections. Gun ownership alone won’t keep us safe — to the contrary, the assertion that guns used for self-defense keep us safer is counterfactual. A 2012 study by the Violence Policy Center showed that for every justifiable homicide there were 32 criminal gun deaths. The study concluded that: “The reality of self-defense gun use bears no resemblance to the exaggerated claims of the gun lobby and gun industry.” With respect to women and domestic violence, a study by researchers at Boston University confirms a grim reality — in states where gun ownership is higher, more women are killed by people they know.

As for the claim that gun safety legislation will do no good, it is bogus, a logical fallacy. The goal of such legislation is not the impossible — to stop every possible death — but to make it more difficult for dangerous people to kill with a gun. And it works. Incremental measures to stop deaths from smoking and drunk driving have drastically reduced both. Obviously, they did so without banning driving or even smoking. So, too, the effort to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others with a propensity for violence — as the shooter in Hesston, Kansas, freshly served with a domestic violence restraining order, so tragically exemplifies.

Which brings us to the greatest falsehood of all — that gun safety legislation means denying law-abiding Americans the right to own a weapon, whether for self-defense or any other lawful purpose. Not only would such legislation be unconstitutional, but nothing the Republicans so adamantly oppose remotely resembles the straw man of confiscation they so conveniently invoke.

Yet again and again, the NRA and GOP deploy a preposterous perversion of the “slippery slope” argument — that any legislation to prevent criminals or terrorists from buying guns is a step toward barring gun ownership by all Americans. Bereft of rational arguments and terrified of fact, they traffic in demagoguery and paranoia. The NRA’s propaganda marks the absolute bottom of American political discourse — rooted in fear, fomented by hysteria, dependent on lies and, in some cases, fueled by fantasies of blowing away “the other.”

As for the assertion that the 5 - 4 Supreme Court decision finding a constitutional right to bear arms means that guns cannot be regulated to protect law-abiding citizens, it is nonsense. No constitutional right — including free speech — is absolute. As to guns, the Supreme Court made clear that nothing in its opinion barred reasonable regulation to protect the public safety, such as background checks to screen out gun purchases by criminals, spousal abusers, and the adjudicated mentally ill. The Second Amendment protects the rights of law-abiding Americans to buy a gun, not the rights of violent felons to endanger the law-abiding.

When all else fails, the NRA and its Republican handmaidens traffic in a particularly distasteful brand of diversion. A lot of homicides are gang-related, they argue, so why should we care? Besides, they say, many gun deaths are suicides, not homicides — ignoring that the prevalence of guns means that a person in despair has a quick and easy way of placing themselves beyond second thoughts, or the help of others. Particularly odious is the suggestion that a mass murderer like the demented young man in Sandy Hook would simply have found another weapon to wipe out so many kids and teachers so quickly. With what — a knife, or slingshot?

And, finally, this: given the NRA’s success in promoting gun ownership and opposing gun safety legislation, why aren’t we dramatically safer? Why so many mass murders? Why so many more killings than in any other first world country? Is the only answer that more Americans should carry weapons? Do the Republicans in Congress really believe — for one tragic example — the only protection for the black churchgoers murdered in Charleston would be bringing guns to their place of worship? Do they ever ask themselves whether our society is truly that helpless?

In truth, it doesn’t matter what Republican officeholders know or believe in their hearts. They are the NRA’s legislative arm — without them, the NRA could not have succeeded in making America the first world’s most dangerous place. Because, quite simply, they are the craven servants of the gun lobby — their services bought and paid for at whatever cost in human lives.

They don’t come cheap. Since 2010, the NRA and its allies have spent more than $46 million in soft money alone to influence federal elections. In the last election cycle , the NRA spent $18.6 million on candidates. Throw in lobbying, and the NRA spent $32.5 million in 2015. Virtually every dollar spent on candidates went to Republicans. Along with that comes a small cadre of voters obsessed with guns, who respond to whatever scare tactic the NRA comes up with.

What have the Republicans given the NRA in return? Anything it wants.


The annals of American politics are rife with self-serving hypocrisy. But the Republicans’ cowardly and contemptible servitude to the NRA stands alone in its cravenness and in its costs: the death and maiming of so many thousands of Americans, year after year, shattering families and inflicting the stain of violence on our country. And the GOP’s only answer is to promise us more.

It is long past time for Americans to call them on it.

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