Why can Congress not regulate gun ownership in any meaningful way in this country, even in the face of the disproportionate gun deaths here, including regular mass shootings? Why can we not have laws supported by more than 90% of us, regarding limiting the availability of guns, and banning the most lethal kinds.
Guns (even military assault rifles designed for instantly spraying an area with deadly fire for maximum killing in war-zone firefights) are considered essential to “freedom” and the continual mass shootings (and thousands of one on one gun murders and even more gun suicides here every year) are simply the price we pay for “freedom”. An asshole argument, made by cynical, indifferent assholes, sure, but you can get shot here if you want to argue about it too loudly. Every angry 21 year-old white American male gunman has a right, conferred directly by Jesus Christ Himself, to own as many guns as will make him feel safe and powerful.
You recall how hard it was to get tobacco companies to stop pushing cigarettes on children? They were a very, very powerful lobby representing billions in profits with brilliant, aggressive lawyers fighting off pesky wrongful death cases for decades. One of their biggest legal guns, former tobacco attorney Lewis Powell, after writing an influential memo on how Commies want to destroy our freedom by attacking corporations in court — and stressing the importance of having judges who will hold the line on corporate rights — went on to become a long serving pro-corporate rights Supreme Court justice. We have several of them up there now, dedicated corporatists like John Roberts, the self-proclaimed balls and strikes umpire and, before that, the creator of the brilliant, now ubiquitous “arbitration clause” that is in virtually every contract consumers sign with corporations.
Let’s pause for a second to appreciate how brilliant that arbitration clause is, from a corporate point of view. In signing the contract you agree to forego any judicial remedy outside of binding arbitration, for any injury, even death, sustained due to the actions of the corporation you signed the contract with. Instead of a costly class action where a million similarly injured customers can hold a negligent corporation accountable in a court of law, every individual customer agrees to a one on one arbitration, the costs usually shared evenly between the complaining customer and the corporation, and the arbitrator will decide whose rights have been violated and by how much. Plus, the beauty part, whatever the arbitrator decides is binding, no appeal. It’s right there in the fine print you signed, bitch.
Why does every Republican in Congress (and every “moderate” Democrat from a Red State, like right-leaning Joe Manchin) elected in the last 40 years need a triple A rating from the National Rifle Association? Second Amendment, yo! The Second Amendment is considered by millions to be the most important amendment in our Constitution. Its fans (including indisputable legal genius Antonin Scalia) argue that the ambiguously worded amendment that begins with the words “a well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state” is not about militias at all, but the inviolable right of every individual American to bear as many arms as possible to ensure freedom from all tyranny, including, significantly, the tyranny of a government that would come to take their guns — like they did on January 6th at the Capitol! Pry ’em from my cold dead hands, coercive nanny-state!
Heather Cox Richardson lays out the history of how the once reasonable National Rifle Association (one-time advocates of responsible gun ownership and sensible gun control) became, starting with Reagan, the most powerful right wing lobby in the country (and biggest single donor to our boy Trumpie in 2016, $30,000,000, baby). Heather, as usual, cogent and brilliant.
Why does the United States have such an off the charts number of gun homicides a year? The New York Times published a great article today, zeroing in on the number one cause of all that gun death here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. We lead the world, by a gigantic margin, in the number of guns people have. Read this article, with its spoiler alert headline, Why Does the U.S. Have So Many Mass Shootings? Research Is Clear: Guns, I highly recommend it.
Around the world the opinion is that the US, which has 4.4% of the world’s population and owns 42% of its guns, is a violent, racist nation with a mental health epidemic raging out of control under an overpriced, inadequate health care system. I’d have thought that too, but it turns out, and the researchers make a great case: there is an amazingly strong correlation between the number of gun deaths in an area and the number of guns people own. We may be no more violent, racist or otherwise insane than citizens anywhere else, we just have ten or a hundred, or a thousand times more guns than any other country. Here’s a neatly chilling factoid from the article, an illustration of why so many more of us are killed here by guns, which are almost as ubiquitous as John Roberts’ fucking arbitration clause:
[It’s not that we have more violent crime here than elsewhere…] Rather, they found, in data that has since been repeatedly confirmed, that American crime is simply more lethal. A New Yorker is just as likely to be robbed as a Londoner, for instance, but the New Yorker is 54 times more likely to be killed in the process.
Or, as this raging asshole would say, let the American people listen to the propaganda on both sides, go as deep as they want into any monetizable rabbit hole, and make their own informed decisions, which the lobbyists make sure get translated into the most lucrative possible policies, public and private.