My upcoming newspaper column:
One side will say there are too many guns, the other not enough. One side will suggest new limitations on dangerous people getting guns, the other will see a slippery slope. Each will accuse the other of being the singular cause of all violence. We’ll hear of Jared Loughner and of James T. Hodgkinson. Hatred of Donald Trump will be pronounced unprecedented; that of Barack Obama dismissed. Fundraising political pitches will be made, condemned, and repeated.
After Gabby Giffords was shot, politicians promised to cool their rhetoric, but didn’t. Screamers of the airways made no such promises, and delivered. There are as many guns in the hands of the public as there are members of the public. New laws or no laws, it is who we’ve become and will be, always.
Hateful words abound on fringe websites of both sides. There, people make horrible, disgusting, violence-invoking comments. But here’s the thing, and it’s the area in which something could conceivably change: the leaders of only one party produce and encourage violent talk and threats. Offensive or not to say it, it’s true. To repeat, for clarity: the leaders. Not you.
Only one party, via major candidates, Congressional representatives, and mouthpieces in the media, has lauded “Second Amendment Remedies.” It’s at the center of only one party, not its extremes, where you’ll be reminded about Thomas Jefferson and the Tree of Liberty and the Blood of Patriots. At only one party convention did major figures say the other party’s nominee should be locked up. Or shot. The candidate of only one party urged supporters to beat up protesters, promised to pay their legal bills; only one presidential scion considers opponents “not even people.”
The likes of Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and Alex Jones, spewing hate, paranoia, and rage, inhabit only one party. Not the other; not, at least, with huge audiences. Snark, maybe; hyperbole, even. But not existence-threatening warnings of deadly conspiracies (and lizard people), internment camps, or imposition of martial law. Nor, if such a person existed on the other side, would he be given White House press credentials.
Only one president feted a man who called his predecessor a subhuman mongrel. Pastors associated with only one party call for all members of the other to be rounded up and imprisoned. Call a president the Anti-Christ. Call for murdering gays. Including the present, three-fourths of acts of political violence have been from groups associated with that party.
Steve Scalise was gravely wounded, not long after promising to “continue fighting to protect every citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.” “Every,” he said, which includes James T. Hodgkinson with his history of arrests for domestic violence, legally carrying. (Listen, and wonder why he had access to such a weapon.) Rand Paul was at the ballpark, too. He’s informed us that the Second Amendment isn’t about shooting deer, but standing up to tyranny.
If we’re to accept that the Second Amendment was written to provide the means for citizens to fight tyranny, maybe we need nationally ratified definitions of what the American version looks like and when it’s justified to shoot at it. Let’s settle upon acceptable parameters for government behavior needing lethal redress; and how, if at all, failed attempts should be penalized. It’s unlikely politicians and screamers suborning armed rebellion imagined liberals would take them up on it: they were thinking patriot militias, survivalists and Three Percenters. They didn’t like it when DHS named such groups a greater threat to the homeland than Islamic terrorists.
And, aye, there’s the rub meeting the road. One person’s tyranny is another’s answered prayers. One’s is regulating carbon emissions, another’s is reversing those directives. One’s is executive orders protecting minorities and the environment, another’s is rescinding them. One’s is enabling access to healthcare, another’s isn’t. One person’s divisiveness is Trump demonizing immigrants and Muslims, another’s is Barack Obama saying Trayvon Martin could have been his son. Which assassins of tyrants by whose definition shall we call patriots? Who gets to choose? Everyone? It’s the westering spirit.
Until we settle on the answer, how about the leaders, pastors, and airwave icons of that one party stop encouraging us to use our guns on one another? If nothing else, how about that much?[Image source]