Murphy’s Law

In 2002, Michael Moore released Bowling for Columbine, his witty and withering documentary about gun ownership in America that was inspired by the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. In that tragedy, students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold armed themselves with guns and bombs and stormed their school, killing 13 people and wounding 24 others before taking their own lives.

Columbine’s grotesquery and deliberateness set a new standard of horror for a country that is hard to shock, and marked the start of what could probably be called the “Columbine Era” of mass shootings that continues to this day. Bowling for Columbine, then, might be seen as the place where American culture began its earnest response to the phenomenon of terroristic gun violence. But while Moore’s skillful, ironic documentary did invigorate the conversation about firearms, it seems not to have done much to move our nation past its gun control gridlock, the sharp features of which are revealed in the film’s penultimate moment when Michael Moore is granted an interview with Hollywood icon and NRA spokesman Charlton Heston.

After a bit of warm up, Moore questions the aging Heston about his lack of tact for having appeared at multiple NRA events that occurred soon after and at the same location of several notorious shootings, including Columbine. After nearly choking on his tongue at the suggestion that he owes anyone an apology, Heston abruptly walks out of the interview.

This alone was a satisfactory illustration of the state of play between left and right on the gun control issue, but Moore, regrettably, chose to gild the lily and chase after Heston, displaying a photo of a young shooting victim to shame him. “This is who she is… or was,” Moore taunts Heston, holding up the photo. Heston says nothing and shuffles away on arthritic legs.

Moore’s decision to not let Heston’s own flight from the harsh truth speak for itself, but instead to browbeat him over a death that he could not reasonably be blamed for, cost Moore the high ground. However, his actions did accidentally complete the illumination of the political impasse that his film was a reaction to. Where Heston could only hide from the shameful truth of our overly permissive gun culture, Moore’s attitude reminded us that scolding is the only weapon that the left has ever really brought to this gunfight.

Twenty-three years after Columbine the stalemate between left and right obtains, but one feels that a secret peace has been negotiated, the unwritten protocols of which only become visible when, as is happening right now thanks to Buffalo/Uvalde, the country is forced to reckon with more gun violence than can easily swept under the rug.

The right, naturally, does not budge an inch. But in return, the left is allowed to slip through some farcical piece of legislation about bump stocks or loopholes designed to allow at least one or two Republicans to support it (after expressing only the loudest reservations), but which will not fundamentally reduce the Death Star’s worth of armaments filling our country, nor the ability of almost any high-functioning lunatic to purchase a truckload of them on any afternoon.

To illustrate this, let’s check out the “deal” just announced by Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut (who came to the Senate in 2012 just a month before Sandy Hook.) Murphy is considered a pragmatic but dedicated supporter of gun reform, and if he was a member of a party like the Republicans (that has a resolve on the gun issue that is stronger than Wolverine’s bones) it’s possible that he could usher through a modest but meaningful gun control bill.

Instead, with merely a “paper thin” Democratic majority at his disposal, no willingness by the Dems to eradicate the filibuster rule that they all publicly curse, and an upcoming midterm ass-kicking that has all but been ordained by God, well… lets get ready to mumble!

Place your bets! Will we be getting a renewed assault rifle ban? How about a ban on that ammo with hooks that makes your head explode like a watermelon that raped Gallagher’s mother?

Dream on. Instead, thrill to billions of dollars for “school safety” (like what? A school resource officer who won’t be off taking a dump when the Grim Reaper arrives?) as well as money for mental health clinics — a windfall which would not have saved anyone in Uvalde since there is no evidence that the killer ever sought or was denied mental health counseling.

But how about “enhanced” background checks for people under 21? This might add fifteen minutes of hold time for the next Payton Gendron to discover Jesus before he turns up at your local supermarket with his guns and his armor and his Livestream helmet. What a boon!

The rest of the proposal is, likewise, the remains of a cow’s breakfast.

This is it. This is the best that a Senator who arrived in Washington practically surfing on the blood of the Sandy Hook massacre can offer ten years later, with that horror having now repeated itself and then some. Just as it was in 2012, when the Democrats were also in control of Congress and the White House, so it is today: we hold out for peanuts and we still get nothing but shells. Has any other party in history ever self-owned this completely?

But with the Washington Democrats refusing to extend themselves on gun control until they have a majority tighter than Hercules’ fist, and with the GOP obviously beyond all hope of redemption, is there any way to end this epidemic of slaughter in our lifetimes?

The answer is “yes”, but understanding how will require just a bit more probing into the Red and Blue gray matter of America.

(Continued next week.)

Jason Yungbluth draws comic books, including one called Weapon Brown.

Previously: Madness at the End of Days

Next: One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State

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Creator of Weapon Brown, Deep Fried and Clarissa. And AIDS.

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Jason Yungbluth

Jason Yungbluth

Creator of Weapon Brown, Deep Fried and Clarissa. And AIDS.

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