We’ve All Been Bullied Into Silence

A few days ago, sportscaster Bob Costas touched off a firestorm by saying that maybe Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins would still be alive if handguns weren’t so easily available. Belcher was a starting linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs who had shot and killed Ms. Belcher, the mother of his child, and himself.

The Belcher-Perkins tragedy raised a lot of issues worthy of debate, including the possibility that Belcher’s behavior might have been caused by football-related brain injury. But there was no debate, because as soon as Costas spoke he was subjected to howling outrage from the Right for even suggesting that guns might be a problem.

According to the code of Conservative Political Correctness, gun control is not a fit subject for discussion, never mind action. Any public figure who dares bring up the subject is slammed with relentless vilification. And as many have noted, whenever anyone links gun control to a mass shooting incident, the entire Right-Wing Noise Machine goes into overdrive about “politicizing” a tragedy. Like what they’re doing isn’t politicizing a tragedy.

I don’t blame Democratic politicians for going silent on gun control, because right-wing craziness has brought about several threats to the future of the United States and its citizens. We have been forced to pick fights to win enough elections to gain, or maintain, seats in the Senate and House. We have, in effect, decided that issues like saving Medicare and getting out of Iraq take precedence over gun control. Being silent on gun control was the price of a Senate majority, allowing red-state Democrats like Jon Tester and Claire McCaskill to win elections.

The Right has done such an effective job of drowning out any attempt to discuss gun control publicly it’s probable most of the public doesn’t understand gun laws and the absurd degree to which Republican lawmakers have worked to make guns easily available to people who shouldn’t have them, including people on terrorist watch lists. For example, just yesterday Michigan passed a law that will allow concealed carry in places like schools, churches, day-care centers, sports arenas and stadiums, hospitals, bars, and college campuses. Great timing there, sports.

Ezra Klein published a post yesterday that exploded many beloved myths about guns, including the myth that widespread gun ownership somehow decreases gun violence. But this is not new; in the past I’ve linked to data showing a strong correlation between high rates of gun ownership and high rates of gun fatalities in the U.S. And “stand your ground” laws have led to an increase in homicides.

But even today, all over the Web you can find wingnuts opining that being slaughtered in schools, malls, movie theaters, or wherever is the price we pay for “freedom.” These people have a weird definition of “freedom.”

One encouraging bit of data in Ezra’s post is that the percentage of Americans who own guns actually is declining. And recent polls say that about 75 percent of Americans think there should be some restrictions on gun ownership, in spite of the fact that we’re not allowed to discuss gun control.

One of the most encouraging aspects of the last election was the uncompromising support for women’s reproductive rights voiced by Democrats. It hasn’t been that long since Dems were telling each other to not bring up abortion unless asked, and if asked just say it should be safe, legal and rare. We’ve also seen a swift shift in public opinion in favor of marriage equality.

This tells us that sometimes, things do change.

Even as we’re hearing the usual nonsense about how the teachers had been disarmed by “gun free zone” laws, and God has been taken out of classrooms (and I say Mike Huckabee’s god is a pathetic weenie who doesn’t deserve worship, anyway), maybe we’ve finally reached a tipping point at which the public has had it up to here with the bullies screaming at them to shut up about gun control.

21 thoughts on “We’ve All Been Bullied Into Silence

  1. Any public figure who dares bring up the subject is slammed with relentless vilification.

    They may actually be breaking the law.

    The Maine state constitution: “Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.

    Amended by referendum in 1987.

  2. If not now, when?

    Nothing happened when a Congresswoman got shot, and others near her, died.
    Nothing happened when a movie theater was shot up, with dozens dasd, and even more wounded.
    Nothing happened earlier this week, when a shopping mall was shot up. The “realtively” small body-count made that shooting-spree a short story.
    It was always “too soon” to talk about it, until the next slaughter happened, making the last one “old news,” and it being ‘too soon” to talk about the present one.

    But maybe now, that the killing field is a Kingergarten classroom, people will finally wake up, and tell the NRA to shove its guns where the sun don’t shine.

    No one wants to take away a hunter’s gun. Nobody’s talking about that.
    And, if to feel safe in your home, you feel you need a handgun, no one’s going to take that away from you either (though you might not feel you need one, if the “others” guns are eliminated).

    It’s the semi-and-automatic’s that are useless to hunt with (unless you like shredded venison, rabbit bits, or metal-ground squirrel), and also useless for home defense (unless a baseball team decides to steal, and invades your home base, en masse).

    And if we can’t outlaw these semi, and automatic, weapons, as I’ve asked before, ‘why can’t we outlaw bullets?’
    There is NO Constitutional right to bear/have bullets.

    So, after a Connecticut Kindergarten classroom ends up a killing field, with its floor awash in the blood of the innocent, and the childrens fingerpaintings and drawings on the walls splattered with their own gore, and families whose carefully hidden gifts will never be torn open on Christmas morning by eager little hands -after all of this, NOW can we at least start a discussion about the out-of-control gun culture that too many people in America have, literally, bought into – to pad the pockets of the gun and arms manufacturers and their Lobbyists?

    And if not now, when?
    Sweet Jesus, if not now, when?…

  3. The last clause was added in ’87. The vote was 57-43%.
    I expect it would do about the same today.

  4. You know what will take an act of courage, that I don’t think I’d be able to muster?

    Being the parents of one of those slain children, and opening up the closets where their gifts were carefully hidden.
    Loving gifts whose holiday wrappings will never be torn open by their children’s eager little hands.
    Gifts which never be played with, or worn by, the child they were intended for.
    Gifts, which, if they’re lucky, will end up at some charity, to be distributed to needy children – and not thrown out into a landfill, the wrapping stained with the tears of parents and siblings.

    The greatest gift we can give ourselves, after this slaughter of the innocent, is some sensible gun control – and not wrapped Glocks for every teacher and Principal.

  5. It’s useful that the bullies screaming about gun control are the same bullies screaming about abortion rights, taxes, Obama’s birth certificate, Israel, illegal immigration, etc. etc. ad nauseam. My hope is that more and more people will see it as all being part of th esame pathology. The recent election helped highlight how deranged and medieval their views on women’s rights are, so maybe something similar can happen with guns. Even since the news broke, yesterday’s horror has shown that a lot of Americans care more about gun rights than dead children. That’s just as twisted as believing that it’s a gift from God if you’re impregnated by a rapist.

  6. I heard a report this morning that the three guns in this incident were all purchased legally, and registered to the gunman’s mother.

    The reporter just moved on from there, but I thought, wait, you mean the mother who was found dead at home, probably the first victim?

    Guess owning three guns didn’t keep her very safe, did it? She not only couldn’t defend herself with the magical invulnerability the gun nuts suggest gun ownership provides, but then the guns were taken and used to wipe out the lives of 20 little children.

    Gun ownership didn’t help Mrs. Lanza, or anyone in Newtown, one bit.

  7. I have some friends in the ah-hem, “Second Amendment community” there seems to be an inverse correlation between the desire for faster, more deadly guns and a nodding acquaintance with reality. My most gun crazy friend really seems to live in a fantasy world, which includes any and all conspiracy theories and character assaults involving president Obama. He lives in a constant state of fear and anger. In his spare time he plays violent video games and watches apocalyptic TV shows. That sounds like a great life, right? I’ve know a few people who quickly made the journey from “highstrung” to psychotic break.

    I don’t know if “magical thinking” is exactly the correct term, but, so many gun rights people seem to have a desperate need to see themselves as heroes. Not, the kind of hero who throws herself between a gunman and her students, the kind that unleashes some judicious mayhem, and wins the heart of every babe in town.

    As Maha once noted, “They think all you have to do is wave a gun at the problem and it will go away.” That really sums it up. They think if they can visualize confronting a gunman and taking him out, that’s the same as it would play in the real world. They have pegged the crazy meter.

    The other half formed idea that comes to mind is that crazy people aren’t crazy all of the time and sane people experience periods of mental instability. We live in a high stress culture people can go over the line and come back in time to go to work the next morning, until they go too far over. I’ve know a few people who quickly made the journey from “highstrung” to psychotic break. Fortunately, none of them were into guns.

  8. Great comment Goatherd.
    Hey, I spend more time trying to make spelling corrections in my comments than I spend forming my opinions.The older I get, the more time I spend on corrections.
    Frustrating.I cringe quite a bit after I hit “submit comment”. You’re not alone.

  9. It’s like conservatives and stupidity; not all conservatives are stupid, but stupid people are usually conservative. Similarly, not all NRA lifetime members are mobster thugs, but mobster thugs are usually NRA lifetime members.

  10. I’m in the same camp as Mayor Bloomberg..Enough of the bullshit talking and do something meaningful..Propose and pass a Federal firearms registration act where guns are treated the same as automobiles..Requiring annual registration fees and insurance..If people are willing to spend a few hundred dollars a year to maintain their right to bear arms then so be it..But it could do a lot to bring in revenue and reduce the number of guns in circulation.. point is..do something to make gun ownership a bit more costly and cumbersome.

  11. Those killed, in alphabetical order, and their ages:

    •Charlotte Bacon, 6
    •Daniel Barden, 7
    •Olivia Engel, 6
    •Josephine Gay, 7
    •Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
    •Dylan Hockley, 6
    •Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
    •Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
    •Chase Kowalski, 7
    •Jesse Lewis, 6
    •James Mattioli, 6
    •Grace McDonnell, 7
    •Emilie Parker, 6
    •Jack Pinto, 6
    •Noah Pozner, 6
    •Caroline Previdi, 6
    •Jessica Rekos, 6
    •Aveille Richman, 6
    •Benjamin Wheeler, 6
    •Allison N. Wyatt, 6

    •Rachel Davino, 29
    •Dawn Hocksprung, 47 (principal)
    •Anne Marie Murphy, 52
    •Lauren Russeau, 30
    •Mary Sherlach, 56 (counselor)
    •Victoria Soto, 27 (teacher)

  12. I think there is more to this than guns; although gun control would be the best way to start in resolving these problems of death by crazed gun nut. I often wonder where does a man get off figuring he has the divine right to kill his wife and children when things go wrong. If he wants to commit suicide, then do so but he DOES NOT have the right to take any other life with him. His life is his to do with as he pleases; but, no one else’s life is his to take. I thought Costas’ comment was right on and was glad to hear him make the very simple but relevant comment. Still, I think we need to get into the male ego/psyche to see why he thinks he has the right to go out and kill women and children or other innocent people. Most are actually cowards. And, the cowardice is proven and shown by the fact that they always shoot themselves after all the carnage they have created. They don’t have the guts to deal with the consequences of their actions. I wish there was some way to keep these a$$holes from committing suicide so that they could face the damage they have caused and be punished for it. And, then, the shooter/s has/have to take the punishment like a man (whatever the heck that means).

  13. Well like clockwork as soon as I tried to open a discussion about this on a local forum the gun nuts chimed in to tell me that I was too stupid to understand the Constitution, and thank goodness some smart man was there to explain it all for me so i know what to think or otherwise my little head would have exploded.. HOW they can argue for their guns at a time like this is a disgrace.It is all they care about..it’s like :Yeah it’s a shame about those kids, don’t take my guns!”

    I suggested that there was in fact no constitutional right to bullets. I tell this to a group who does not believe it to be a living breathing document or one that can be changed. And I am impaled with threats, called stupid and told I am to ignorant to understand that AMMO is included. And that I should know what they meant. Well yes I do read simple English and it only speaks of a right to keep and bear arms( not arms and ammo). I can still point a gun without ammo in it..my constitutional right would remain in tact.

    And don’t take a stupid persons word for it. Just take a trip with me into the past. Remember ” cop – killer” bullets? Well they were banned after congress in cooperation with the NRA passed a law. That was in 1987? And they passed further legislation in 1994. A few points to this trip back in time: The first being that Congress agrees with me..there is no constitutional right to Ammo. They try not to pass laws that violate constitutional rights. It must have been their feeling Ammo was NOT included. Further the NRA helped to craft the law, they must understand the limits also. And I can find no place where such laws were ever challenged in court based on ammo being part of any right and not having such ammo therefore violated their constitutional right after how many years since 1987?

    And further I pointed out to the gun crazies that if they wanted to say ” You know what they meant and arms includes ammo” then lets assume I “do know what they meant and arms DOES include ammo” the ammo they meant was a gun powder loaded musket. Oh holy shit the fireworks that set off! But I found it interesting how stupid I was to not understand the right to bear arms includes ammo because even though it doesn’t say it we all know(?) they meant it, but then when I take them to task about the ammo they had in mind when they wrote that all the sudden that isn’t what they meant..

    But I ask you to consider this. Remove guns from the subject for a moment.
    Jane Doe does not own a gun. Jane Doe walks into a bullet store to buy 100 bullets to make into key chains. There is no waiting period or backround check to buy bullets like there is with fire arms btw. Lets say bullets are now illegal or lets even say the store thinks she smells bad and doesn’t want to sell them to her..if she leaves that store not allowed to buy bullets has her right to bear arms in any way been violated?

    You are not going to stop gun violence unless you stop the guns ability to be violent.. bullets killed those kids, the gun and the nut would have been almost harmless without bullets. Bottom line.

  14. Erinyes, thanks that was very charitable of you. I am feeling a little under the weather today.

    Many years ago when I was in my twenties, I stepped into the wrong place at the wrong time. I was confronted by an overwrought, stressed out person who was freaked out because someone had knocked on her door, or at least that was how she explained the fact that she was pointing a K frame S&W .38 (6 inch barrel) straight at my solar plexus. She was convinced that I was the “guilty” party, but I was really headed to an apartment nearby. She had the hammer pulled back, which reduces the trigger pull, and she was shaking. I wasn’t mad at her for being scared but, I didn’t want to get blown away either. Everything happened in slow motion and gradually I took a chance and I said, “It’s okay to act crazy, but, just don’t act crazy with one of those things.” That wasn’t the most articulate things I had ever said in my life, but it worked. I turned my back and walked away. Pretty obviously, she didn’t shoot me. but, I learned a valuable lesson. If something like that happens, stay calm. Don’t challenge, but, don’t retreat. Wait until the tension has slacked and calmly state you intention to leave peaceably. The, slowly, try to leave.

    Under normal circumstances she was probably a very rational person. But, at that moment she was off balance and that at that moment she had access to a gun. If she accidentally pulled the trigger and gut shot me, I probably would have survived. But, it would have been a painful experience. I think both of us would prefer that it hadn’t happened at all.

    I have worked with a lot of people post gun shot wound (GSW) it’s really not very pretty.

  15. Right or wrong, George Zimmerman standing his ground didn’t work out very well for him. The lesson I learned from Zimmerman is if you shoot someone, you’re gonna spend a lot of time and money before things get back to normal. If they ever do.
    I was in an on line chat about the second amendment yesterday also. I happened to mention that I’m 58, and things like this did not happen when I was a kid. This prompted a young woman to say I am a senile old dumb fuck;I thanked her for her observation, and that it is an honor coming from one with such a stellar intellect. The best way to win a debate or influence a conversation is to fling verbal poo.
    The young woman thought the second amendment necessary because we have so many people here from Mexico, Jamaica,etc, etc; and that we may need to overthrow the government someday. I guess she didn’t realize her constitutional rights go away upon conviction of a felony, and damned near every crime in Florida is now a felony;Makes me wonder how many convicted felons are running around here with weapons. Rubber bullets might solve some of the problem, rubber rooms might help also.
    The fact that 20 little kids were shot several times each at close range, and died a painful terrifying death is lost on so many.I just don’t get it.
    Several years ago, I saw a bumpersticker that read ” welfare should be as hard to get as a contractor’s license”;well perhaps the same should be true for assault rifles and high powered weapons.

  16. Tipping point? Not until the numbers seeking action to lessen the carnage (it will never be eliminated in the sense that polio was) either far exceed or simply organize so as to engender equal or greater fear of losing their jobs in politicians. It should be apparent enough that safety and protection now have become euphemisms for taking matters into ones hand as judge and jury and when accompanied by a sense of disenfranchisement (like a large % of the population), anxiety and a confused mental state. This includes a healthy % of those on whm the NRA would have no regulation whatsoever. It should only take one offense involving self-annointed law enforcement types taking matters into their own hands as a posse of one (encouraged y SYG laws) to permanently revoke one’s right to a gun. We can’t ban yahoos but there can be consequences for yahoo behavior.

    Public healthcare has a subtle benefit in that fewer would fly under the radar of the system.Medical healthcare records standards are being upgraded. Other countries leverage them as means of effective screening for gun purchases. The point is, I think, not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Improvment of the whole is the sum of the improvement of the parts. But each and every small change (dare we use the “R” word?) Will be opposed by those informing us that it won’t solve the problem once and for all. They’ll be right about despite their blatant disinterest in improving the situation even a little.

    I’d love to see the rationale for warrantless wiretapping applied as in “if you aren’t mentally unbalanced you should have nothing to fear from firearm restrictions pertaining to the mentally unbalanced. It becomes a little more complicated than the vastly simpler NRA solution by which individuals make their own rules. Isn’t that the problem we’d like improvement on in the first place? People with guns making their own rules?

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