Tuesday, May 17, 2022


Henry Olsen, a right-wing columnist at The Washington Post, is worried about gun violence.
This weekend’s spate of mass shootings is a depressingly familiar blot on our nation. It’s long past time for political leaders at all levels of government to work to reverse the spiraling trend.
Amazing! A conservative is saying this!

Olsen adds:
The National Rifle Association and other Second Amendment advocates should lead the way.
Try to contain your snickering.

But Olsen is really, really concerned.
... This is not merely a price of freedom. It is a growing epidemic that threatens to undermine the trust and security that make a free society possible.
What does he mean by that? We'll find out later.
... Economist Herb Stein coined a law that bears his name: If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. That’s as true in this case as it is in economics. Eventually, Americans will refuse to tolerate mass murder as a regular occurrence.
Will we? We've tolerated a million COVID deaths in the past two years. We tolerate economic inequality, police brutality, an epidemic of opioid deaths, staggering medical and education debt, and a complete lack of accountability for corporate malefactors like the ones who destroyed the economy in 2008 -- and by "tolerate" I mean that many of us are desperate for solutions but don't see any way to get them, while others simply don't care about the problems (or want them to continue).
Left to fester long enough, such violence will likely force people to reconsider support for the Second Amendment itself and acquiesce in its judicial evisceration. That is even likelier to happen if those who champion the private use of guns cannot bring themselves to condemn and limit their deadly abuse.

... There’s a saying in Washington: You’re either at the table or you’re on the menu. The longer gun ownership advocates stay away from the table, the likelier core freedoms will be devoured.
Okay, now we see what's really bothering Olsen. He's not worried about the ever-increasing death toll from gun violence. He's worried that this violence will inspire swing voters to turn against gun-absolutist judges and the politicians who appoint them, otherwise known as "Republicans."

Conventional wisdom tells us that we can't regulate firearms because of the gun industry's stranglehold on the GOP. I no longer believe that. The gun industry just isn't big enough. It doesn't give enough money to Republicans to have that kind of control over GOP politics. I believe we can't regulate firearms because the Republican Party and its really rich backers in other industries know that the gun issue drives GOP voters to the polls. Even for heartland white voters who might support universal background checks or red flag laws, support for gun control is a culture marker: If you're a politician or candidate who backs restrictions on guns, these voters look at you and say, One of them, not one of us, and reliably turn out to vote against you.

Olsen knows this. He's worried that endless carnage might turn middle-of-the-road voters against the party that provides all that deregulation of big business and all those tax cuts for the rich. That's what has him worked up, not the death toll.

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