The Economist has an article in the latest issue asking why gun laws having come under closer scrutiny in the wake of the shooting in Arizona. Many commentators on the left have accused the right of stoking the flames of hate, using Sarah Palin's crosshairs map as exhibit A. The right has responded with a chorus of "that guy was crazy, he has nothing to do with us." Never mind that in July a right wing lunatic had a shootout with the cops en route to shoot up the Tides Foundation and the ACLU in San Francisco, two of Glenn Beck's favorite bad guys. And never mind that the right has stoked the fires of racist hatred and fear of the far right, using the mob mentality of groups like the Tea Party to get more republicans in office in 2010.
They are right, though, the Arizona shooter wasn't a right-winger, he was just crazy. But he was armed to the fucking teeth legally. And the response by many on the right is that we need MORE not LESS guns. There is a growing "Concealed Carry" movement in this country, which means giving people permits to carry concealed firearms. The logic goes like this: if bad guys know that normal citizens are armed, they'll be less likely to prey on them. Also, if more citizens are armed, they can respond to crimes. The first argument sounds like the argument against wearing a bike helmet: if you don't wear a helmet, cars will be more likely to steer clear of you so they don't hurt your unprotected head. Also, if you start an arms race, the bad guys will always win - they have better access to illegal shit. The second argument is madness. In one out of a million cases, some John Woo shit might go down with the good guys gunning down the bad guys. In the other 999,999 cases, innocent people are going to get shot. More people with guns means more gun violence. Instead of just being afraid of the thugs with guns, I'll have to be afraid that any jackass I bump into might pull out is their gat and start gunning. Not to mention that people might get shot for misdemeanors - a purse snatcher shot in the back by a hero with a cannon, dead for the 100 bucks he stole. I can't believe we as a nation are going to buy into this vigilante bullshit. It scares the hell out of me.
Especially since the police, who are law enforcement professionals, haven't proven themselves to be good at using their arms in many cases. They have a bad habit of gunning down unarmed black men. If we have a bunch of armed rednecks, we are going to have a lot more people of color gunned down for no reason. I'm a liberal who is for second amendment rights, but strongly, strongly against concealed carry. We are not the wild fucking west.
This is part of a larger trend that has been breaking my heart lately. America has been going through a tough time, and our reaction is to turn on one another. Politics have gotten more divisive. There is a growing libertarian movement, which is essentially "I got mine, fuck you!" (There's irony in Fox news painting George Soros as a liberal bogeyman, when they are owned by Rupert Murdoch, a foreigner who has taken control of the U.S. media and used it as a mouthpiece for his personal ideology, which happens to profit him nicely). As cities and counties and states struggle with deficits, we turn on one another, blaming each other for problems. If you can tell the character of a country by how it responds to crisis, we are failing. We are showing ourselves to be a bunch of whiney, selfish, hateful, spoiled little bitches.
This artificial red state/blue state conservative/liberal divide isn't helping. We fit our opponents into stereotypes, and then follow a knee-jerk party line based on our own hot button topics and talking points. If you look at the conservative view of liberals, it doesn't reflect what liberals actually believe, and I'm sure the same goes for how liberals view conservatives. Our political ideologies become like sports teams, things we identify with and get passionate about just so we can feel like we belong to something. Not that there are serious differences between the two ideologies. But we need to find common ground so that we can start to find solutions to the problems facing us, rather than the pissing contest that politics has become. One side takes power, enacts a bunch of laws that reflect their ideology, and the other side tries to undo them. How the hell is that helping anything?
Hopefully I'm wrong. Maybe I should just forget about it. After all, losing sleep over the state of the world isn't helping me any, and it isn't helping the state of the world much.
So I'll stop ranting, and stop ruining my beautiful saturday morning by being pissed off about things I have no control over. Gah.
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