How Progressives Can Own the Gun Control Issue
I’d like to start by saying two things:
It’s simply not enough to be mad about the fact that our kids are not safe in schools.
You can shove your “thoughts and prayers” straight up your ass, especially if you’re a Republican.
For the 13th time this year — and we’re only 45 days in — there has been a shooting incident at a school in the United States of America. And in the 24 hours since it started, Republican politicians have been falling all over themselves to show just how concerned they are. Most of them give their “thoughts and prayers,” of course, but then they add that “gun control” would have done nothing to prevent it, which is pure NRA-sponsored bullshit.
Every one of these stories gives me a sick feeling in my stomach. I weep for what is happening to my country, because I can’t help but imagine my son at that age facing such terror. And then I get pissed because I am always bombarded with the bullshit arguments like the classic “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” and the variation on that, “We have to stop the people; guns are just the tools. Going after the tools won’t stop this.” It’s the best they can do, because even the staunchest gunloon knows deep down there is no excuse for allowing a pissed off 19 year old to walk into a gun store and walk out with a gun and enough ammunition to shoot nearly three dozen children.
As liberals, we should be winning this issue. Almost everyone in the country agrees with us on common sense gun control by now. So, why do we keep losing out? Why can’t we get the most basic gun control passed?
If you’ve been reading for a while, you should know what I am about to say. It’s because a lot of (mostly white and well-off) progressives truly suck at politics. As late as yesterday, just before the shootings, a Bernie Stan was trying to convince me that Democrats and Republicans suffer from the same political uselessness. They don’t see the Republican Party as hopelessly corrupt and downright anti-American and they see the Democrats as basically carbon copies of Republicans and they promote the concept that BOTH major political parties are the problem, which is absurd. Not only is that inaccurate, but it’
There is also the problem of messaging, as in, progressives essentially have no sense of what a political message should look or sound like. When many such progressives and professional lefties found out the carnage was caused by an assault rifle, some screamed, “We have to immediately ban all AR-15s,” as if all assault weapons in existence will suddenly disappear if that happens. Banning AR-15s and other military-style weapons is, at best, a tiny little bandage on what has become a gaping societal wound. Then, there are those who think the solution has something to do with “addressing mental health issues,” as if all “mental health issues” are the same.
The problem comes with the professional left’s desire for a simple solution to this problem. Put simply, there is no such thing. Part of the problem requires us to address what we all call the “gun culture.” You can’t do that with a law banning certain guns. In fact, a case can be made that, if we had a great gun control structure in place, people could own anything they wanted and we’d still be safer. We gave to solve a societal problem using a political solution, which means we have to make people have hope and feel safe, so they don’t feel the need to stockpile weapons in their homes.
We were actually on our way to becoming that progressive country back in the 1960s, but too many progressives lost their way and dropped out of mainstream politics. Well, guess what? It is time or ALL of you to drop back into the mainstream. If you dream of a third party, then create one. However, you can’t start with president; you have to start with local school boards and work your way up. In the meantime, stop ceding all arguments to the far right wing GOP. The key issue in the gun control argument is the easy access to guns by people who simply should not have a gun. People who are angry about something should not be able to go to a gun shop and walk out with a weapon as easily as the rest of us go to Target and buy a toaster. However, we also have to deal with the concept that many Americans equate having a gun with personal safety.
And yes, we have all seen the statistics. We all know about the Kellerman Study, which says that it is FAR more likely that a gun in the home will kill someone who lives there than an intruder. That should be common sense. However, some people lead with emotion. For whatever reason, our society has come to believe that having a gun means a greater level of personal safety, in part because the right wing mindset has overtaken the country over the last 40 years, in part because our side keeps handing them elections. The Republican mindset has resulted in spending cuts that blow off the government’s responsibility to keep us safe. Instead, they spend far too much on drug interdiction. Police agencies nationwide spend too much time on drugs and not enough on things that actually matter. Republicans also put too many laws on the books about personal behavior, and not enough about things that kill us, in part because they owe a major debt to the NRA.
The press isn’t helping. The complete lack of responsibility on the part of the press to provide perspective on every issue means every problem we have these days is exacerbated by a lack of perspective. That means, with every tragedy, the population tends to overreact. Every time there’s a mass shooting, progressives talk about gun control for a week, while right wingers buy lots more guns. The press makes everyone, left and right, feel as if we’re under siege.
Progressives and liberals; 2018 is our chance to begin to change everything, although it will take a major change in our own mindset to make it happen. Our problem is that many progressives see every issue through a prism, wherein each individual event is separate from every other event, and every issue stands on its own as a problem with a simple solution.
Welcome to the real world, liberals.
We have to build a progressive country, with a progressive mindset. That starts with getting the right people elected. At this point in time, that means Democrats. That means getting directly involved in the politics as it actually exists, and crafting a change in attitude on everything. Right wingers have dominated the political landscape for a generation, so we must recognize that and realize the profound effect that influence has had on the thought processes of the average American. We must change that mindset.
Yes, we will have to change gun laws, to make it easier for law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. But to do that, we’ll have to lose the “ban on guns” concept that tends to shut off debate. Mental health care is an issue, but that, too, will require a progressive change in mindset. We have to build a society in which violence is unacceptable as a solution to a problem. For example, it’s disturbing that so many gunloons lump protection of their “stuff” in with the protection of their families as their rationale for needing the protection of a gun. If shooting someone to death to protect your big screen tv is acceptable by a large number of Americans, then you can’t say guns are the whole problem at all.
We also need to end the drug war, so that police can concentrate on actually keeping us safe. Ending the drug war would probably cut our gun-death rate by a large number, anyway, as well as provide us with more revenue to expand Obamacare and make mental health services available to even more people.
There is so much to do, progressives, and we’re the people to do it. We have the ideas, the only question is, can we create the political will to actually put them into action. I’ll be discussing ways to do that going forward.
We have to do this, for the children.
Originally published at PCTC Blog.