Tuesday, January 11, 2011


A story in today's New York Times points out that a deep and abiding faith in the goodness of guns pervades the Tucson area -- Congresswoman Giffords boasted of her gun prowess, one of the doctors who operated on her was a pistol-club member, and now-deceased judge John Roll, his wife, and many staff members had plenty of experience with firearms. (And I'm sure that's a very incomplete survey of the parties affected by the shooting.) Barbara O'Connell, owner of the Marksman Pistol Institute, mourns the judge and offers her thoughts about what happened on Saturday:

Ms. O'Connell lamented the death of Judge Roll, who was well known at the range: "He knew how to shoot, but he'd just been to church, and he probably didn't have his gun."

And, well, there it is, the gun culture in a nutshell: a culture that valorizes guns and makes them readily available to all and sundry, with as few exceptions as possible, can't possibly be the problem when there's gun violence. The problem must lie with individuals who are too squeamish to carry guns at all times, or with institutions, like churches, that mulishly insist on remaining gun-free zones. Apart from that, we'd be in a crime-free utopia.

Did I say "utopia"? Absolutely. See also this, from The Arizona Republic:

"When everyone is carrying a firearm, nobody is going to be a victim," [Republican state representative Jack] Harper continued.

Harper went on:

"The socialists of today are only one gun confiscation away from being the communists of tomorrow."

Matt Yglesias responds to this statement:

...this is the kind of thing people like me are talking about when we talk about irresponsible rhetoric. If you actually believed that the political party you didn't vote for was likely to turn the United States into a communist dictatorship, then you'd probably conclude that armed resistance was appropriate. You'd be especially inclined to believe that if you thought that your partisan opponents' proposed restrictions on gun ownership were the key stepping-stone on the road to serfdom. I'm pretty sure that's not actually what Jack Harper means. But given that he almost certainly doesn't mean that, he ought to think more seriously about whether he really wants to say it.

I'm pretty sure that's precisely what Jack Harper means. But I'm sure he'd say he's not being irresponsible, because, while armed resistance may, in his opinion, be appropriate, he could almost certainly assure you that it would be the good kind of armed resistance, in which only patriots of impeccable character took up arms in the cause of freedom, with the result that only tyrants and their foot soldiers were killed and wounded.

Because nothing bad ever happens once enough good people take up arms. You don't know that? Don't you go to the movies?

And see also this from Dave Weigel:

Charles Heller, one of the co-founders of the pro gun-rights Arizona Citizens Defense League, tells me that the group has put together model legislation that would require the state to help train members of Congress and their staff in the use of firearms.

"Our model legislation is called the Giffords-Zimmerman Act," said Heller. (Giffords staffer Gabriel Zimmerman, 30, was killed on Saturday.) "It would require the Arizona Department of Public Safety to provide firearms training, using firearms confiscated by the state, to members of Congress and people who work for them. Facilities would be made available to them in a way that wouldn't interfere with the training of police and other safety employees."

Heller speculated that a response like this could prevent future attacks on members of Congress. "I don't think having a firearm on her would do Congresswoman Giffords any good," said Heller. "However, if it was known that members of her staff were well armed, that very well could have dissuaded [the shooter]."

The AzCDL, founded in 2005, has successfully lobbied for more lax gun laws in the state.

Again, the same message: we just haven't put enough guns into enough good, well-trained people's hands to achieve our crime-free gun utopia.

In a way, this is like the right's message on taxes -- it's always a good idea to put through a tax cut; we never cut taxes enough. Logically, this means we should have a tax rate of 0% on everyone, and on guns it means that, for everyone except criminals and the insane, carrying weapons everywhere and training with them incessantly should be, well, mandatory. Anything less is the flaw in the system that leads to societal imperfection.

But, of course, in each case the right-wingers don't want to say that, because what they need politically is the ability to say, at all times, that we have to go further in their direction.

No comments: