Tuesday, June 21, 2016

And the Gunpowder Beat Goes On

Republican Senators, led by Mitch McConnell, have again shot down sensible gun reform today, ignoring the will of the American people and the mounting cost of our addiction to firearms and eroticized violence (CNN). It is just the latest failure in a long line of futility dealing with the mass shootings that have become far too common in America since Columbine (WP, Mother Jones, CNN), and really since the 80s. Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who sponsored one of the failed measures expanding background checks, summarized the current political environment well: “I'm mortified by today's vote but I'm not surprised by it. The NRA has a vice-like grip on this place."

Ninety percent of Americans and 83 percent of gun owners support background checks for all gun purchases, but this would obviously cut into the profit-margins of the gun industry the NRA fronts. Assault rifles have no practical non-military use, beyond killing a lot of citizens rather quickly, but the gun industry can make tons of money from continuing to sell them. And the answer of many Republicans, including Donald Trump, to further arm the public seems so counterproductive to addressing the issue, it is hard to believe they can do so with a straight face.

Do we really want teachers carrying guns in schools? “You don’t like the grade I gave you. Are you sure?” Do we really want untrained citizens shooting up clubs to try to “save people?” Do we want more incidents like the one from earlier this year where a women started shooting at a shoplifter in a crowded parking lot? Will “justifiable homicide” become an excuse for almost every murder in the country?

We live in absurd times, but it is time to start asking fundamental questions about the demagoguery that passes for political discourse today, and its costs.

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