23 June 2016
Sit on it: the gun debate today
It's a bit silly to see Rep. John Lewis, an authentic hero of the civil-rights movement, treat the Democratic demonstration in the House of Representatives as a "sit-in." That's a dubious assertion of moral equivalence, considering that the original sit-ins involved an element of physical risk that was almost entirely absent in the Capitol building yesterday. The whole point of a sit-in, some would say, was to call attention to the immoral absurdity of segregation by making someone arrest you or beat you up to enforce it. So unless the House Democrats were expecting Republicans or National Rifle Association members to charge in and shoot them, their little Occupy moment doesn't rise to the gravitas of a true sit-in. The most they had to deal with was an idiot Texas Republican with a short attention span who seemed to believe that only the last two highly-publicized mass shootings were relevant to the current gun-control debate. Rep. Gomer, or whatever his name is, presumably ranks among the opponents of the proposal to forbid people on the "terrorist watch list," aka the Terrorist Screening Database, from purchasing assault weapons. Such a proposal would seem to be the no-brainer of all time, but instead we hear Republicans and NRA hacks whining that the list is too large and some people are on it unfairly, or by mistake. I take this to mean that there are too many white conservative Christians on the list for their comfort. Too bad: if there isn't a process for applying to be removed from the list, make sure there is one and go ahead with the legislation. Instead, it seems unlikely that even a compromise proposal that would limit the ban to those on the more stringent "no-fly" list will pass. In President Obama's final year in office there seems to be even more clinging to guns (and in some cases, religion) than ever. The NRA even found itself to the left of Donald Trump at one point this month, gently reminding the presumptive candidate that it might not be the best idea to let people drinking in nightclubs carry firearms. They are not far behind him, however, in their longing for a return to traditional values and the good old days -- true or not -- of the Wild West. It makes you wonder what a modern Wyatt Earp would actually do.