I’ve shot maybe two guns in my life. The first was at summer camp when I was about eleven, where I shot a small, light rifle at my own illustration of Dick Cheney. The second was also at summer camp a year later, where I tried shooting clay pigeons with a shotgun. I hit one out of six and decided to retire while I was on top.
So yeah, I guess I don’t really understand why people get so hyped up about their firearms. But I’ve learned to respect gun aficionados, mostly for the sake of keeping my political talk from becoming a moral diatribe. To get anywhere in the newly revamped gun control debate, it’s hard to even insinuate that gun ownership is inherently dangerous without insulting someone’s life choices, let alone the omnipotent, God-ordained Bill of Rights. We’re too polarized by the 2nd Amendment issue to express our stances honestly without stepping on at least a few toes. George W. Bush closed the debate when he let the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expire, and Obama, trying to make too many friends in a rival Congress and racist constituency, has done little to re-open the discussion.
But the past year’s multitude of shootings – at Aurora’s Century 16 movie theatre, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, just yesterday in an Aurora home where a shooter killed three hostages and himself, and countless more – has recently put the political right in a difficult positions, as Republicans and as humans. Their balls shrunk after Romney’s defeat in November, and pundits immediately began mourning the death of the GOP as we knew it. Then a sick man killed twenty elementary school kids and six teachers in Newtown, CT, just eleven days before Christmas.
The nation’s outward response was varied. Friends and relatives of victims are still grieving, some demanding change from Washington, others protesting Connecticut’s own Colt Firearms Manufacturing Company, and still more blaming the influence of violent movies, music, and video games. Los Angeles hosted a gun buyback, paying people hundreds of dollars to turn in their handguns and assault weapons (one man even brought in a rocket launcher). But Obama’s speech following the massacre, in which he recounted his immediate reaction not as a president, but as a parent.
Some Republicans responded in predictable fashion: gun sales spiked all over the country, the NRA Executive Wayne LaPierre called for armed guards at all American schools, Ann Coulter tweeted “More guns, less mass shootings,” and internet idiots protested the NFL’s decision to air Obama’s speech before a Sunday Night Football game (“Take that n****r off the TV, we wanna watch football!”). But plenty of Republicans were shook to their humanest core by Sandy Hook. They went to sleep on Christmas Eve dreaming of a more compromising 113th Congress, the revival of rational, moderate, and democratic debate . Obama tried and failed to cultivate this in his first term, but now that we can all see through Boehner’s new clothes, Republicans are beginning to admit that working with Democrats won’t turn them into sodomizing stoners.
Even outside of the gun debate, compromise already seems to be returning. Perhaps to signal that they’re ready for change (or perhaps just because the fiscal cliff would have raised taxes anyway, the Republican Congress passed a bipartisan budget plan that raised taxes on the wealthy, violating a pledge that many Republican Congressmen signed to never vote to raise taxes. In his second term, Obama plans to push through legislation on a few more contentious issues, like immigration, gay rights, and gun control, so we’ll see how willing to compromise Republicans actually are.
Things might get worse before they get better. But they will change. As our nation grows more multiracial, liberal, and accepting, then our government must also transform if it wishes to remain of the people, by the people, and for the people. The Republican Party will most likely remain the haven for conservative Americans for decades to come, but I can’t guarantee how long they’ll be able to protect you from the homos, the Mexicans, and gun control. If you feel your Second Amendment rights threatened, join the state militia, whose right to bear arms is explicitly stated in the constitution. But if you’re ready to watch compromise and respect return to Washington, then join me in gun users’ retirement.
Dick Cheney defending his constitutional rights. Credit: PoliticalHumor.About.com