One year after Sandy Hook, a search for civility
On the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, I did not attend any vigils or ceremonies to honor those killed, because the ones I knew of were organized by gun-control activists who likely would have considered my presence an unwelcome intrusion. At the same time, however, I did not attend any pro-gun demonstrations or events yesterday as I considered many of these opportunistic, if not insensitive.
My lack of participation in any of the forementioned exercises, naturally, has no impact in what has turned into a cold civil war over firearms in America, with both sides digging in deep and refusing to budge.
I learned a few interesting things on DU over the days, weeks, and months that followed Sandy Hook. For example, I was told that the Second Amendment was only enacted to protect slaveowners, that Nazi Germany was actually a gun-owners paradise where you could buy any firearm you wanted (if you were a white Aryan male), that women who owned semi-automatic firearms actually had tiny penises, and that I was a "freak" with "blood on my hands" if I dared voice objection to anything that the gun-control movement demanded - which meant that I'd have to agree to not only bans on "assault weapons" and high-capacity magazines, but also mandatory insurance for gun owners, "one-gun-a-month" laws, and a Federal permit as a prerequisite for owning a simple squirrel rifle. For starters.
But gun-control activists weren't the only ones to double-down on craziness. We are all too familiar with last month's armed protest in Arlington, Texas over members of Moms Demand Action holding a luncheon at a local restaurant, which many of us interpreted as outright intimidation. An overabundance of "open carry" demonstrations finally convinced Starbucks to change its attitude towards guns in its coffeeshops. And there has been too much support for George Zimmerman and his perversion of Florida's "Castle Doctrine" laws that allowed him to murder Trayvon Martin and get out of jail scot-free, at which point he continued to draw attention to himself with his impulsive and violent temper.
In the national scuffle, the one piece of legislation that might have done some good - an improvement of the Federal background check system, proposed in the bipartisan Toomey/Manchin bill - met an ignominious death on the Senate floor.
For all this talk about the need to have a conversation on gun legislation, nobody is talking to each other. And it's getting worse.
Ginny and I could talk about it, though. She supported most forms of gun control, while I opposed them. But our dinner conversations remained quite civil. Not that we weren't capable of pushing each other's buttons, but our love and respect for each other overcame that. And I was probably responsible for more of the button-pushing, but that was purely by accident. When your wife gives you "the stare," that's a clear warning that your argument is heading off into the weeds.
So we learned how to talk with each other. And we even learned to make each other think about our respective positions. Voila! Conversation achieved.
I'm not afraid to ruffle the feathers of my fellow gun owners with some new ideas now and then. Eric Liu contributed an interesting opinion piece for CNN regarding the concept of "gun responsibility" in support of improved background checks. It's a concept that, if presented correctly, could possibly coax people on both sides of the debate out of their bunkers long enough to talk about background checks and finally get something done on Capitol Hill - after the 2014 elections, of course. But while some fellow Democratic gun owners are leery that this is just another repackaging of the old gun-control paradigm, I see it as possibly illuminating a new way forward.
This isn't about compromise on either side. This is about the need to talk, the search for new ideas. I believe in talking.
We need a new civility in America over the gun issue, and it should begin with each of us.
But I fear what will happen is more of the same hyperbolic name calling.
"If you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you always got."
On one hand is the NRA, who actively supports the (lack of) laws that are responsible for our astronomical levels of gun violence. On the other hand are people who sometimes get overly upset about the fact that 30,000 people die from guns every year in America, a rate that is some 5 to 10 times higher than any other wealthy democracy.
Obviously, both sides are equally to blame here. And let's not lose sight of the real victims. Not people who have been shot. I'm talking about people who own home arsenals and lobby against background checks but don't like being called "gun nuts".
If you want things to stay exactly as they are, by all means, keep doing what you've always done. And then you can complain about more murder victims as both sides - yes, both sides - entrench themselves even further.
Instead of refusing to cut Social Security and Medicare, we should take Paul Ryan's ideas on deficit control seriously. Instead of demonizing Wall Street bankers, we should be nice to hedge fund managers and offer them tax cuts. Instead of laughing at birthers, we should acknowledge their legitimate concerns about Obama's birth certificate. Instead of refusing to compromise on full LGBT equality, we should be sympathetic to those who believe that homosexuality is evil. After all, who are we do judge other people for being judgmental?
Like I said, both sides are to blame for our problems. On one hand are the people who are advocating policies that cause the problems. On the other hand are people who are too mean to those people. If you really think about it, they are both equally to blame.
This thread is about gun legislation and civility, not Social Security, Wall Street, or your aunt's gout.
No matter how idiotic what the right-wing is saying, treat them with respect.
...the rest of us will move forward and keep a seat open for you when you finally come around.
We are all vulnerable to self-righteousness. I've admitted my vulnerability; it's okay for you to do likewise.
Just recognizing that your centrist "blame both sides" wisdom is applicable to far more issues than just gun control. But you are doing great -- keep it up and there is surely a seat on Morning Joe and a spot on the Wall Street Journal editorial page waiting for you.
The part where you denigrate progressives and insist that when we "finally come around" to join your center-right views you will keep a seat open for us is a nice touch.
I might have been center-right when she met me, but not by the time she married me. People develop throughout life. QED.
And your call for civility is virtually identical to any number of center-right calls for "civility" and compromise on any other number of issues from the Morning Joe set.
This from a guy who's probably to the left of both of us, truth be told. When I run into George in the afterlife, I owe him a drink.
I notice that Orwell doesn't say anything about unlicensed handguns...
If my wife and I could tolerate each other despite our own views on guns, there's still hope for society at large.
Liberalism has a place for all of us, straight or gay, black or white, male or female, Jew or Palestinian, Chinese or Japanese. There's even room for gun owners as well as those who want more restrictions on guns.
Science versus mysticism? They both sound fine to me. Racism, sexism, homophobia? Who am I to judge. True versus false? Is there really a difference?
They defend some pretty detestable groups, their right to free speech and all.
Tolerance is a tough concept to practice.
But I don't think that their right to free speech means that progressives should refrain from criticizing them.
How often have we heard its the guns that are the problem? Not the gun nuts, but the guns.
Of course, then there are those who think all gun-owners are "gun nuts" which includes 40% of registered Democrats.
Second of all, yes, guns are the problem. The easy availability and widespread ownership of guns in the US, unparalleled in the rest of the developed world, is the basic reason why our rates of homicide and gun violence are so much higher than in comparable nations. This is not an indictment of any individual that owns a gun. It is an indictment of an inadequate system of regulation.
In the same way that a call for stronger regulation on banks is not an indictment of every person who works in the financial sector.
If its the widespread ownership of guns that is the problem, what steps would you recommend we take in order to bring those numbers down? Because everything proposed so far only seems to be making people want to rush out and buy more of them.
That's one of the usual NRA lies -- confusing people who own guns with people who live with someone who owns a gun. The irony being that this includes the (numerous) women who live with abusive men who threaten them with guns as "gun owners". And second, and less important, is that the Gallup gun ownership numbers are higher than the more accurate GSS numbers, which is what social scientists use.
How do you recommend we reduce the guns in circulation then?
Because what we're trying now doesn't seem to be working.
Universal background checks would be a good start. I would favor registration and licensing of all handguns. I know you probably don't, but I think that could make a big difference. Not going to happen any time soon, of course, but neither are single payer, wall street reforms, carbon emission limits, living wages, etc.
My point here is that just because the political winds aren't in the favor of gun control doesn't mean that we need to give up or forget about the issue, or give in to some "centrist" compromise that basically means dropping the issue. You and I disagree about guns, but perhaps we can agree that on other issues, there is the same push to water things down to the point of essentially accepting the status quo, all under the guise of "compromise" or "civility" or "realism" or whatever.
Fuck civility. I sick and goddamn tired of hearing, "now is not the time to politicize the issue." For some reason, it never gets around to being the fucking time, we just have to keep hearing about innocents being gunned down.
Gun-control activists haven't achieved much on the Federal level since Sandy Hook, so how does the stalemate over background checks get resolved if Democrats don't win enough seats next year?
Which threatens any legislator who even dares to propose sensible legislation.
And screw "civility." That is a lame attempt to whitewash the death of 30,000 people EVERY SINGLE YEAR due entirely to guns. That number likely underestimates the number of suicides by guns, because, oh by the way, the gun lobby and its pets in Congress have forbidden the CDC from even collecting data. Because it will likely tell them what they would prefer not to hear, that guns and only guns are responsible for countless deaths every year in this country.
Not in a democracy, it isn't. If people engage in the sort of insult, vitriol, and general asshattery of the sort you see in damn near every gun thread, then all that happens is that both sides get pissed off and become intransigent.
The call for civility is just a masquerade. Gunners love nothing more than to crow about how any attempt to regulate their ridiculous, deadly hobby has failed. In this version, they strut about begging for civility - but it's really just a sham, as it always is with that crowd. The sole purpose of this thread is to provoke response, then say, "Well, that's why you've FAILED (and WE WON, tra la la)." They sing their songs over the little bodies of Sandy Hook - because they don't give a shit about 20 dead children, or thousands of needlessly killed each year. Their little hobby and its asinine toys trump everything.
No doubt, this post too will be occasion to say "I told you so," and "That's precisely the kind of incivility I'm decrying, blah blah blah." The point is to strut and dance - the gunners favorite posture. I'm not civil with racists, or neo-Nazis. i tell them to fuck themselves and pound sand. Civility isn't always an ideal. When you're dealing with fanatics, you must force them to do what's right, because they will ALWAYS choose what's wrong.
This is why I never believe or trust gunners to do anything of value.
Equating gun owners like me with racists or neo-Nazis is exactly why this thread was created. Time to draw the poison out of the veins.
You force the fanatic to do what's right. You goddamn skippy. Your thread is a sham and a lie - a little gunner celebration and nothing more. Poison indeed.
You've set up your little straw man so you can knock him down again. Self-righteousness and dogmatism have hindered your cause just as they have hindered mine. Now all you have to do is swallow your pride and admit it, and then maybe progress can be achieved.
I'll let you know when to call out the military.
Wow, thanks for making the point in the OP crystal clear. Some folks here are just as bad as teabaggers when it comes to their reasoning abilities. It's just in a different direction.
"I've never trusted Klingons, and I never will. I can never forgive them for the death of my boy."
You know what you get with civility and reasonable common sense approaches? Recall elections fueled by histrionics on the other side.
Don't worry Derby, they'll find the need for civility...
Once it becomes clear to them that all the outrage in the world combined with astroturf orgs even with the support of "mayor stop and frisk", are not the same thing as actual political voting power.
They're going to have to talk to those on the other side of the issue if theres going to be any chance of getting anything done at all, whether they like it or not.
Alternatively, they could just continue doing the same thing they have, after all, its worked so well...
flyer with several AR-15 type rifles and 4 free 30 round magazines. They also had 5.62MM and
AK ammo on sale.
for less in local stores.
that with the one year anniversary of the mass murder of 5 and 6 year olds the same damn guns are even more available than a year ago and a criminal or mentally ill person can still buy them at a gun show or off some guy on the street. I want to make it clear I support the second amendment but no civilian needs an AR-15 with 5 30 round magazines.
promote gunz, some even say they'd vote for right wingers if Democrats support tougher gun laws, etc. I'm sorry, I cannot feel sorry for gun fanciers fear of loosing access to more gunz.
...who know that I'm a gun owner and probably think I'm "a little off" because of it, but also remember how I helped them in what meager way I could with anti-fracking campaigns in Dallas (we now have a 1,500-foot setback for all pad sites) and the failed attempt to derail anti-choice legislation down at the capitol back when Wendy Davis was making her stand.
Then you might understand it's not just about "gunz," as you put it, but how people can still relate to each other.
I guess it was Newtown that finally did it, for me. There's no civilized, productive discourse to be had on the matter, any more. At some point in the future---probably after I'm dead and gone---there will be enough school massacres and political assassinations to sufficiently animate the American public, and then we'll see the sort of restrictions put in place that have been needed for so long. In the meantime, I'll continue to take part in the online discussions over firearms policy, for the entertainment value. I'll continue to vote for individuals who I think will vote the right way on gun policy. I'll give my guns a once-a-year cleaning and put them back in the closet. And I'll do all that without any expectation that things are going to get better any time soon with regard to firearms policy in this country. I'd love to be proven wrong, but I've been at this a long time, and my expectations are realistically low.
And that's saying something.
No, both "sides" are not equal.
What part of "We have too many guns in this country that are too easily accessible by people who should not have them" do you not understand?
These massacres will continue to happen until we have sensible gun laws. And get rid of that cancer, the NRA.
There is no compromising with monsters who LET KIDS DIE so they have have their precious penis-extenders.
>calls the OP "stupid"
>makes an inane penis reference
Oh, God, my sides...
insult someone into agreeing with you on anything? It's a piss poor strategy, but it seems to be quite popular with many of the gun control advocates on DU.
I have frequently advocated for universal background checks, explicit legal responsibility if an improperly secured weapon is stolen and used in a crime, stricter punishments for straw purchases, opening mental health records to the NICS system, etc. Every time these jackasses subject me to this kind of inane vitriol, I have to fight the temptation to say "fuck it...and fuck them" and do everything I can to oppose any additional gun control and fight for repeal of existing laws. I don't actually do that, of course...because I believe in those additional measures. But man, it's hard to resist reacting negatively and emotionally to that kind of asshattery.