Irrational gun arguments: the ATF, the Holocaust, slavery and tyranny
Friday, 18 January 2013 22:39:18 PST
Since the horrifying school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., the right and left have been ratcheting up the gun rhetoric daily—from liberals thinking laws will stop America’s obsession with violence to conservatives passionately defending their right to bear arms and stop tyranny. The sentiment isn’t monolithic, for there are some liberals with guns and some conservatives who support commonsense gun laws.
But among those making the noise are the NRA, with their recent ad featuring President Obama’s daughters front and center, while calling the president “an elitist hypocrite.” Then there is the Gun Appreciation Day organizer failing to see the obscene irony in his statement on Dr. King and slavery, to the Holocaust put on blast for a lack of ammo in the hands of the Jews.
So let’s continue the irrational conversation on the nation’s many guns, on mass shootings, accidental killings, criminal possession, hunting, tyranny, slavery, the Holocaust, big government and the Second Amendment.
There are some rational steps being taken by the president to tighten our gun laws. He unveiled 23 executive orders aimed at gun control on Wednesday. Vice President Joe Biden has been working behind the scenes, meeting with the NRA, manufacturers, and the country’s biggest gun retailer, that juggernaut of mass products, Walmart.
Meanwhile, there is another convo taking place among pundits, in social media, in blog-land, and beyond—and some of it defies logic.
Irrational argument number one: “I think Martin Luther King Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.” This fromLarry Ward, organizer of Gun Appreciation Day, to CNN host Carol Costello.
There are so many variables here, and every one of them was lost on Ward. Like the fact that the civil rights leader was murdered by a gun. The obtuseness of his statement is stunning. Then there was his sad pandering to blacks with his slavery-could-have-been-avoided-if-only-those-enslaved-were-allowed-to-carry-guns argument, which descended into the incredulous.
Why stop at slavery? While preaching gun protection and the Second Amendment, he should have thought of the Native American people having guns too and what the outcome would have been when the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and proved not to be as peace-loving as they first portrayed themselves.
Irrational argument number two: The Holocaust. Folks are actually using Hitler’s horrors to make their no-restrictions-on-guns argument. Memes on Facebook claim if the persecuted Jews had guns they could have prevented their nightmare. I guess they forgot that France and the Allied forces had not only guns but other weaponry usually found in the military (like warplanes, tanks, bombs) and that demon Hitler still managed to conquer most of Europe.
Irrational argument number three: “The right to bear arms is … the last form of defense against tyranny.” This is the mantra of many gun enthusiasts. Former rapper/actor Ice-T recited those very words during a recent interview.
So we need guns, semi-automatic killing machines, to protect ourselves if the big, bad government decides to act tyrannically? I don’t know what America these folks are living in. Maybe they have been watching too many Hollywood movies. Have they seen what the government is packing lately?
In case they forgot, the military industrial complex and the government are one and the same, and their weaponry has long surpassed Glocks, Bushmasters, AR-15s and all semi- and automatic rifles.
It’s fascinating, for the ones who accuse the government of psych-ops and other elaborate conspiracies of military mass destruction are the same folks who believe guns hoarded in their basement or lockboxes can go up against that kind of sophisticated tyranny.
Irrational argument number four: We already have more than 23,000 gun laws on the books; the government just needs to get the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to enforce them. What Republicans are leaving out in this conversation is that they have methodically and effectively muzzled that department to the point it is legislatively impotent. Like a Daily Beast article asks, What Does the ATF Do, Anyway?
There isn’t even an officially appointed head of the ATF, and that position has been empty for six years. The acting director, Todd Jones, has another full-time gig, as the US Attorney for Minnesota. It is an appointed position, thanks to Republicans. The ATF also cannot do a slew of things because it is undermined and limited by Congress via powerful NRA lobbyists.
Here are some of the things the department that is supposed to be in charge of enforcing gun laws in this country cannot do:
- Despite all their loud hoopla over the Fast and Furious program, Republicans have muzzled the ATF so that it can’t force gun vendors to take inventories.
- The ATF cannot effectively track guns because it is not allowed to create a gun registry and database.
- The ATF cannot make gun records public.