Let’s be clear: when Congress passes an “assault weapons” ban (and they will pass a ban), it’ll be pretty much toothless.
That the law will likely leave most things unchanged doesn’t matter — the government simply has to do something.
Much like Clinton’s ban in 1994, this new legislation will be rife with loopholes.
To effectively ban weapons in the U.S., a country with 90 guns for every 100 people, the government would have to outlaw all semiautomatic weapons.
That’s not all though.
It would then have to double, if not triple, the staff at Alcohol Tobacco Firearms, and sweep through the nation conducting mandatory buybacks, using the FBI’s gun registry as a roadmap. That’s right, no grandfathered weapons allowed either (unlike Rep. Diane Feinstein’s new bill, which allows grandfathered weapons).
To call the strategy costly would be an understatement — even in terms of human cost — how long before the ATF is in an intense shootout with some Midwestern militia?
On Friday, Wayne LaPierre was a veritable one-liner parody of all the worst possible things you could say at a funeral — (yes, America is still slogging through a highly publicized, collective funeral for the 20 children and seven adults killed in Sandy Hook).
As we emerge from the visceral throes of mourning the deaths of innocent children, as we sober up to the idea that violence is a problem in America, we should also turn the scope of inspection upon ourselves.
It’s easy to blame guns. Even I, a proud Second Amendment supporting Iraq War veteran, am second-guessing the necessity for ownership of AR-series rifles (even glocks and deadly pistols).
Gun ownership is only the surface of the problem though, and we’re lying to ourselves if we don’t admit it. I’ll point to a few obvious examples to illustrate the complexity of violence in America — in an effort to say that we should be talking about these things as we concurrently talk about guns.
Kirby Dick, in his documentary “This Film Is Not Yet Rated”, showed that the though the Motion Picture Association of America, a movie rating organisation staffed with “mums and dads,” slapped an R rating on Rambo, they also put an NC-17 rating on a movie which showed a vagina.
So let’s get this straight, chaperoned with an adult, a kid can watch Rambo gun down a couple hundred people in five minutes with a 50 calibre machine gun (not an exaggeration), but we must stop them from catching the merest glimpse of a vagina.
It doesn’t stop there though, nobody seems to have noticed this recent whopper: The Atlantic wrote on Saturday that the CIA was pretty pissed about its portrayal in a movie it psychologically subsidized, Zero Dark 30. CIA Director Michael Morell pretty much lambasted the movie, and the media clamped down mainly on his statements about enhanced interrogation.
What they didn’t focus on was this gem — from the Atlantic:
“I would not normally comment on a Hollywood film,” Morell starts, “but I think it important to put Zero Dark 30, which deals with one of the most significant achievements in our history, into some context.”
So killing bin Laden is one of ‘the most significant achievements in our history,’ grouped in there so cavalierly with curing polio, inventing flight, or building the internet. Yes, along with those, one of America’s most significant achievements is spending eleven years to find a guy who’s terrified to even use a cell phone, and then shooting him in the head.
Let’s focus on torture though.
Even America’s all out celebration of the Osama raid is somewhat troubling. Upon hearing of his death, the media and we all, myself included, actually celebrated putting a bullet into his head.
So guns are the problem?
The biggest, most popular heroes in U.S. culture are usually one of two things, Uber-filthy rich or superheroes (or both). Most superheroes are only super because of the good-violence they can perpetrate as they seek to put a stop to evil-violence — Robert Downey Jr.’s much lauded Iron Man typifies Wayne LaPierre’s bizarre statement that “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.” (Or maybe a good guy who is, himself, a gun incarnate.)
The late re-edit of Tom Cruise’s “Jack Reacher,” the delay of Terantino’s Django Unchained, and the postponing of Family Guy and American Dad episodes are at least a hat tip to the fact that our culture is pre-occupied with all things violent (ever seen Bugs Bunny wrapped over the head with a hammer?).
Maybe that’s part of the American spirit, but it should be included in the conversation, at the very least — as we prepare to kick back and watch several large men throttle each other around the gridiron every Sunday, to the delight of child and adult alike — we ought to take a larger look at ourselves, the celebrators, creators, subsidizers of stuff like the MMA, Chuck Norris, and Obama’s drone program.
The Washington Post rightly points out (as begrudgingly as possible), that global gun violence rates, when compared with gun ownership, don’t show causation between ownership and deaths. Even the correlation is somewhat of a stretch, which Ezra Klein claims is at the very least “suggestive”.
The problem is much larger than guns. To not admit as much is willful ignorance.