It’s another week in America. And it’s another predictable opportunity to reach the tipping point on gun violence.
Here’s my sharply worded memo to guns rights activists: this is not foreign policy trouble, or President Obama’s fault, or faith based in any way. This grew organically. Spare me the “good guy with a gun” bit. Some of these good guys are personal friends of mine and their emotional attachment to their guns truly makes me nervous. Their extreme form of expression costs them credibility, regularly.
The best news for the pro gun team is that gun control advocates keep making the same mistake.
The New York Times published a front page editorial for the first since 1920 on the topic. Surprise, surprise, the Times thinks our government is not doing enough to address this scourge in our culture. And in other news, I agree with them. However, the talk of anything that can be described as a confiscation program immediately is discarded by guns rights advocates and it ensures there won’t be any discussion of compromise as a result. This makes the entire column too easy to ignore. Nice try though.
The pro gun strategies of late are pretty obvious. Here is a flavor of how nervous the “guns for everyone” group is getting. The National Review published a column by John Lott on Thursday that included this nugget on background checks:
“these laws put a tax on guns and can prevent less affluent Americans from purchasing them. This disproportionately affects poor minorities who live in high-crime urban areas.”
Now the right wing wants to make sure the neighborhoods who will never vote for them are free from gun restrictions? They now care about “poor minorities?” I even had one of National Review’s leading cheerleaders defend this mind boggling statement directly to me. Save it. This one is pure comedy.
The Washington Post of all papers even got in on the act this week. Calling a play right out of the NRA playbook, they published an article that detailed how gun violence has actually declined over the last thirty years. In it they gave their top five reasons for this elusive, mythical and statistical travesty. Sadly for the gun crowd though, the presence of more guns was not a reason listed.
By contrast earlier in the week, Matt Tully wrote an excellent piece for the Indianapolis Star. Again, excellent in that it points out some obvious points of logic regarding the entire debate. For example, he writes that eighty-five percent of Americans support universal background checks as a requirement to purchase firearms.
But the best part of his column was that it was pointed at gun control advocates directly when he scolded us for not doing enough to push our agenda. That is hitting the nail on the head. The NRA has paid for an uncompromising minority in the public and in the halls of government that has proven successful. They stay on message. They vote on the issue. Gun control people do not have the singleness of purpose they need.
And finally, a classic three year old column from the New Yorker made the rounds again this week as well. Adam Gopnik’s December 19, 2012 piece compared the deaths from gun violence in America to a town riddled with disease that depends on faith healing for a solution. It’s ironic how much praying went on in Congress this week, three years after Gopnik’s column. It was as if Congress tried to prove his foresight correct.
Even I have written some lovely and provocative columns on the topic, chalked full of solutions that have mainly only gotten me called names. The difference in my columns historically with those above is that I am only advocating one thing: that the guns rights people take one step our way. Let’s count that up again, shall we? I want one, that is zero plus one, total, steps my way.
That one step will be symbolic of something called a conversation. The continued uncompromising approach in the face of indisputable flaws in logic and public opinion will not serve the pro gun agenda forever. On the flip side, gun control people like me have not been very convincing yet either. Being unconvincing is the lowest of the low in my world.
The act of owning a gun for “self protection” in and of itself is an extreme act of expression. What does it express? Fear. Advocating a confiscation program is also an extreme expression, and it is clearly just another version of the same emotion: fear.
If we can at least agree on the fundamental source of this national crisis, maybe we can get started on real solutions. The Center for Disease Control wants to study gun violence as a public health problem. Can Republicans in Congress get behind that, or at least get out of the way?
Tomorrow is Pearl Harbor day. I was lucky enough to visit there yesterday. What the Japanese underestimated when attacking us 74 years ago, was the ability of America to unite. That appearance again hangs around our collective neck.
The things many of us fear most now reside within our borders. And the expression of that fear in our daily lives is threatening our security.
These extreme forms of expression are keeping us from talking with each other. And hopelessly keeping us apart from that prescious first step.