ANN DAVIDOW FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
One explanation for the country’s failure to accomplish reasonable, fair-minded goals may be the inability of our leaders to negotiate in good faith about national priorities. Or, as Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland put it, “It’s about politics, not people.” Politicians tend to talk around issues and rarely address them head on. What may seem a simple matter by regular folks is described in the media and by pundits as complicated and fraught with mysterious gray areas that require endless explanatory interludes as opposed to the plain, unvarnished truth. Often lengthy comments leave a listener as uninformed as ever, except as a tutorial in how politics shapes our lives.
It is fascinating in a way to hear some of the wildly improbable reasons for legislators’ "No" votes on expanded-background gun checks and amazing to see how little it takes to elicit cheers and produce standing ovations at events such as the NRA convention this past week. "We will never give up, never give in," blared Ted Cruz, Joe McCarthy’s love child. Cruz had vowed to filibuster any attempt to tinker with the Second Amendment, or as those on the right characterize the issue, endanger our “freedom” and destroy our God-given right to own firearms. When exactly did gun ownership become synonymous with freedom in any case? Kelly Ayotte, for example, tried to make the case that her negative vote was out of a fear that passage of any new gun regulations could lead to a national gun registry, although that particular outcome is explicitly forbidden in proposed legislation.
Ayotte exemplifies the danger of thinking that soft-spoken, reasonable-sounding people are what they seem to be. The shouters and desk-pounders may appeal to some voters, but the most dangerous members of the Congress and our national parties are the stealthy back-benchers, newly arrived, who gum up the works of a well-regulated political process and roil the partisan brew. And of course, it doesn’t hurt to be on the right side of the NRA no matter how hyper that organization‘s arguments. Ayotte’s audience at her recent town halls, whatever their affiliation, couldn’t understand why there would be any objection to more rigorous background checks.
Sure, it would place a burden on those oft-touted “law abiding citizens,” but according to Wayne LaPierre, the only measure of safety for the public at large between a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun; who could dispute that logic? In the end, however, visions of bullets flying overhead consume one’s consciousness without creating a sense of security. And the NRA‘s nonsensical solution for securing a premise is for properly trained, armed, guards to be posted in every school. Curiously, at Columbine there were armed personnel, to little avail.
In the name of safe gun habits it has been suggested that children in gun-owning homes learn, from their early years - - say around the age of five - - how to use a firearm. Why not give every kindergartner a gun for Christmas? Then, when they are older, they’ll fit right in to our loving-gun culture.